A program to support a student’s social skills

What is social thinking?

“It is what we DO before we ACT”. We learn, through experience, to adapt our behaviour based on where we are, who we are with and what is expected in that social situation. We learn to use these skills to impact how we make other people feel, which in turn impacts on we feel about ourselves.  Being a social thinker is about what keeps us connected to others, helps us share space effectively, think flexibly and act collaboratively’ and it isn’t as simple as we think!

Now, lets put ourselves in the shoes of 4-year-old kindergarten student, Ben. Ben’s teacher came to me with concerns that he was having difficulty with recognising that some of his actions had ‘consequences’, he had difficulty building friendships and working in a group and had a difficult time adapting to change in environments and activities. In his kindergarten room he spotted his favourite block activity where his peer, James, was already playing at. At home Ben is a whizz at creating amazing towers with his blocks and his teacher watches as he heads over to the table, sits opposite to James, taking away all the blocks to start on his construction. How did Ben’s thoughts and actions influence James’s thoughts and feelings? You will have answered this question however, for Ben this concept of thinking thoughts and feelings and having a shared group plan does not come as easily to him.

The development of social thinking is an innate process that begins in the early stages of infancy and starts with joint attention of the shared attention of two people on one object. It differs from social skills in that instead of focusing on the actions of our students such as eye contact and turn taking, Social Thinking® focuses on the thought processes behind the action.

So how do we teach Social Thinking®?

The Social Thinking® curriculum applies clear and explicit lessons to teach the abstract concepts of thoughts and feelings. The curriculum is built on 10 concepts. The lessons are taught sequentially, and activity ideas are provided at the end of each lesson to share with your child’s kindergarten and at home to provide added opportunities to practice learning the vocabulary in natural contexts.

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