In 2018, I have been fortunate to provide occupational therapy services with children and their families in Barcaldine, Aramac and Muttaburra. My most recent trip was slightly different to previous clinics, as I spent 2 days at Aramac State School delivering workshops to teachers. I provided information and education on the ‘We Thinkers Curriculum’ developed by Social Thinking®, that can be used in the classroom to assist with the development of social skills.
Social skills are not “one thing” we can isolate and teach. It’s a combination of thoughts, feelings, ideas and actions working in tandem with each other in unique ways for each social situation we encounter (Michelle Garcia Winner and Deborah Meringolo, 2018). By supporting children to become better social thinkers, we are supporting their ability to be flexible when things don’t go their way, they learn that their might be more than one way to solve a problem and they see the possibility of overcoming a challenge.
Here is one quick tip you can use support children to develop their social skills:
- At the center of social learning is thoughts and feelings. Teach children to recognise the thoughts and feelings of themselves and of other people. When reading books or watching movies, encourage them to ‘think with their eyes’. Use a thought bubble to support their ability to understand that people have thoughts. Talk about them about the body clues we see that tell us how people are feeling.
If I was to make a smart guess - right now, you are probably thinking about the email you have received from Outback Futures. This thought is then impacting on how you feel about the email and I hope that it's making you feel happy!