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More than Just Social Skills

Finding fun and creative ways to get your child or student to interact with their peers can sometimes be a difficult task. Not knowing how to motivate a child who just doesn't seem interested in socializing with peers is very common, but not to worry!

Here are some simple tips and suggestions to help your child engage with others that end up hitting many other targets and skills children don't even realize they are working on at the same time!

1. Reading Buddies

Two children sitting together sharing their stories and pictures of what they see on their pages can open a world of possibilities when it comes to socializing. With the right amount of required support to guide them along in taking turns sharing their books with each other, reading buddies is a great way to initiate a calm and social setting.

For beginners, even your child sitting next to their peer silently looking at books together is a great way to introduce parallel socializing and to practice being around a peer doing the same activity. Gradual baby steps to communicating with their peer can be focused on from here.

What's on your child's page? Are they showing their book to their friend? What do they think it says? If they can read, this is a great opportunity to practice reading out loud to their peer. Not only is your child now building their reading skills, but they are improving their social skills at the same time. Reading can be fun!

Bonus skills worked on:

  • Reading

  • Decoding

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Creative Thinking

  • Receptive and Expressive Identification (Words and Pictures)

2. "Pop-Up Games"

A favorite among many in social skills programs, pop-up games similar to that of 'Trouble' are enticingly simple and a wonderful way for children to practice playing a game with a friend

From Paw Patrol to Disney characters, these can be found at your local dollar store for under five dollars and make a great 15-30 minute social skill building activity.

Bonus skills worked on:

  • Counting (receptive and expressive: Dice numbers and moving pieces)

  • Taking Turns ("My Turn," "Your Turn")

  • Color Identification

3. Who? What? Where?

**This game is a great lead into maintaining conversation skills!

Children learning the concepts of these three questions love this productive game, and it's proven to be very beneficial in improving their overall social skills in their every day environments.

All You Need:

Flash Cards

How to Play:

Children take turns to flip a card over from the pile between them (any simple flash cards will do) and asking their peer a question of their choice (either "who," "what," or "where") about the picture on their card.

Example: Sam pulls a flash card with a picture of a bear on it.

Sam: "What color is the bear?"

Christopher: "Brown."

Sam: "Your Turn"

Christopher chooses a card form the pile and pulls a picture of a fish.

Christopher: "Where is the fish?"

Sam: "In the water. My turn!"

Game goes back and forth until all WH questions are answered and asked by both peers. A visual checklist can be helpful for some learners. For those working on winning and losing, whoever finished their questions first wins! Otherwise, once all questions have been checked by each player, the game is over.

For a more advanced method, try answering and asking numerous questions for each picture and increasing their conversational exchanges!

Bonus skills worked on:

  • Receptive and Expressive Identification (pictures)

  • Asking WH Questions

  • Answering WH Questions

  • Turn Taking

These are just a few examples of activities that allow children to engage with their peers in simple yet productive ways. Spicing each activity up with visuals, timers and checklists make for interesting and fun prompts if needed.

Don't be afraid to get creative with activities. There is so much opportunity for learning through fun!

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