Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

June 3, 2015

Social Skills Lessons are More Than Just Child’s Play

By: Jamie Hinchey MS, CF-SLP
  • The importance of teaching emotions and social skills to school-age children in the general education classroom
  • New studies show that children who are involved in the various emotion curriculums have positive effects in preschool
  • Results from a study in 1991 now indicate children who received the social skills learning curriculum not only had more success in school, but also had lower rates of mental health problems

In this NPR article, a Baltimore Elementary school has implemented a new program, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS).  This program is designed to help young children learn how to recognize and express various emotions.  The curriculum includes weekly lessons on how to treat others with respect, what to do when you are upset, and includes engaging characters, such as “Twiggle the Turtle”.  A decade long study released results showing a positive effect on teaching emotional skills at the preschool and elementary school.   Read the research here.

PATHSAs a speech-language pathologist, I have taught emotional and social skills to a variety of children from many cultures and backgrounds.  Some children may need more focus on these skills than others, yet I think that it’s a great for all children to learn and practice how to interact in social situations. This article makes a great point; emotions and social skills should not be something only targeted in therapy, but rather in the everyday classroom just like the ABC’s!

Parents play a huge role in their child’s emotional development, as well.  Mother and fathers can introduce their child to social situations and education about feelings at a young age through books, different pictures, and characters in TV shows.  This exercise can become an everyday routine.  At Spectrum Pediatrics, we are able to teach various emotional and social skills to children through peer interaction in social skills groups.  These structured get-togethers are also a great way for children to learn about how to interact appropriately with others.  With this current research as a guide, general education teachers can integrate structured social skills lessons into their everyday classroom, too!


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