Language Play: Get Social to Support Language Development

Social Skills: Time to Share!

Halloween is a great opportunity to have your children share their excitement socially! Kids love to have conversations about their costumes, where they got the idea, what they’re doing today, their all-time favorite Halloween, the scariest thing that happened….Don’t forget to encourage them to ask questions back to their listeners to make it a true conversation.

There’s a buzz about social skills these days. There’s such a tendency for all of us to be so involved with technology that we have less time for face-to-face social experiences. A few years ago, I read all of my grandfather’s diaries, from the turn of the century until the 1970s. I was amazed at his social life as a teacher in New York City! Every night after work and before dinner, my grandparents went to the park across the street where they met their neighbors. After dinner, they had people over to play bridge, canasta, and Scrabble, to listen to concerts or baseball games on the radio, or to watch the latest invention (television) together. Every day of the week! It was a golden age of social interaction!

If you’re at all concerned about promoting social skills for your children, you’ve come to the right place! Hilltown Families is the perfect answer. Start picking those events to go to! Every one of them is a social experience! That’s why I choose to write here. This website fosters what I care about: Social skills and language development.

After you’ve attended a Hilltown Families event, a great idea is to encourage your children to tell others who weren’t there about what you did. Perhaps they could call their grandparents, or write them a letter. If they need help to organize their ideas, use “what, who, where, when, how, and why questions” as a starting point.

Another place that fosters social skills is Michelle Garcia-Winner’s breakthrough website www.socialthinking.com. Garcia-Winner has revolutionized the way we (especially speech- language pathologists and educators) help people who have social interaction deficits. She believes learning new ways to think socially will help people to navigate the world of dynamic social relationships. She gives us a framework and vocabulary, as well as books and games to support these skills.

I’ve also been thinking about dinner times in a new light lately. I always advised parents who have children who stutter to use dinnertime sharing so that every family member could have a turn to share at their own pace and with little pressure (you are always allowed to pass if you have nothing to share). I know it might be difficult for families to eat together every day; but when you do, remember what a great opportunity to model social behavior and language it truly is! Parents can model many skills until children learn and participate. Skills such as listening and expressing, asking clarification questions, learning how to engage in verbal routines, thinking about main ideas and big picture thinking (“What are two things that happened that you want to share tonight?”), organizing your thoughts, perspective-taking, explaining, describing, processing events, narrating, using emotional vocabulary, using turn-taking skills and politeness scripts in conversation! Holy cow! It’s a true feast of language skills!

Halloween is today! It’s another great opportunity to share the excitement socially! Kids love to have conversations about their costumes, where they got the idea, what they’re doing today, their all-time favorite Halloween, the scariest thing that happened….Don’t forget to encourage them to ask questions back to their listeners to make it a true conversation.

So in or out of the house, share and have a great time!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathy Puckett

Kathy is a private practice speech-language pathologist living in Shelburne, MA and the author of our monthly speech and language column, Time to Talk. Living in Western Massachusetts since 1970, she raised two children here and has two grandsons, ages 15 and 8 years old. She has worked as an SLP with people of all ages for the last 14 years. She runs social thinking skill groups and often works with teens. As a professional artist, she has a unique and creative approach to her practice. She loves technology, neurology, gardening, orchids, and photography. She uses an iPad for therapies. She grows 500 orchids and moderates her own forum for orchid growers (Crazy Orchid Lady). Kathy is dedicated to the families of her private practice, and offers practical, creative ideas to parents. She blogs about communication at kathypuckett.com

[Photo credit: (ccl) Jonas Seaman]

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