When you think of social skills what comes to mind? Do you imagine talking to people, hanging out or being part of a group in a class or at an event? Yes, these are all great examples of social skills but there is so much more.
At Re-Education Services, we use a methodology created by Michelle Garcia-Winner called Social Thinking©. According to an article on her website, August 2018, social thinking is “what we do when we’re around others and when we send an email, sit in a classroom, line up at the grocery store, read a work of fiction, watch a funny video, participate in a business meeting, drive in traffic, and engage in a host of other daily activities that involve social interpretation.”
As a speech-language pathologist, this is exciting news. It frees the educator from the traditional teaching of lessons in the classroom, with hopes of it transferring over into a student’s daily life, to real life experiences. Yes, of course, there is still classroom learning but as most of us know, the real learning comes in the doing.
In Mr. Mitchell’s class, social groups are going to start will a focus on our behavior and communication within the community. We will begin right outside our building with the parking lot and street safety then expanding as we gain knowledge to include car safety and going to multiple places in the community such as the grocery store and restaurants.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created some amazing visuals that we will be using when teaching street safety.
We will also be using a resource by Brenda Smith Miles called Hidden Curriculum The hidden curriculum what is used to describe the unwritten expectations and rules that come along with any social situation. These rules are often not explicitly taught but rather gained from experience. Research shows that students with learning difficulties are not picking up on these hidden social rules and thus must be taught them directly. Some examples of hidden social rules within the community are:
- It is impolite to interrupt someone when they are talking to someone else unless it’s an emergency.
- Treat all authority figures with respect (ex: police officers) and use formal language when speaking to them.
- People do not always want to know the honest truth when they ask you a question. The person does not really want to hear about stomach issues in detail when they ask; “How are you?”
- Acceptable slang when you’re talking to your friends (What up, dawg?) may not be acceptable when speaking to an adult.
The benefit of learning these hidden rules are many for instance helping us to maintain friendships, display respect and to keep us out of trouble.
I can’t wait to get out into the community with our students and help them learn to navigate the complex social situations that arise. Stay tuned for pictures and videos of our students in action!
See you soon,