Social Skills Development

September 29, 2022

Social Skills Development takes many forms. This spot is where we’ll share stories from our classrooms and therapy areas about how our students are making gains every day in the area of social, emotional, and communication skills. Please leave a comment of encouragement for our staff, students, and families.  ♥ 

Ask for a Hug 9.29.22

Kids like ours can be at risk of being targets of bullying, aggression, or other inappropriate conduct from others as they grow older. It’s so important to teach them social skills that will keep them safe. One such behavior we often see and hear about here is children approaching others unrestrictedly. In other words, rushing in to hug someone, even strangers. It is hard to teach boundaries, but teaching them to ask for a hug, or for other types of affection could be a life-saver, literally. Our educators are always prompting students to say hello with words when visitors come around, and to ask first for hugs when seeing adults they know and trust.

At snack time in Room 3 recently, Z asked his teacher, Ms. Melissa, for a hug. What happened? She gave him a great hug, and complimented him on his asking first. Great job, Z!


Doll Houses and Other Buildings 9.22.22

This play center in Room 14 is set up with a doll house, some furniture and some people. Why? Because children in the room are working on skills such as turn taking, functions and roles. They are working on questions like “what room do we eat in?” and “where do people sleep?’ This center gives them a fun way to role play and process real life roles and functions.

K and T use their young hands to set up rooms with what goes in them. They move their people through the rooms. They make sounds for cars and speech to their people.


Soothing Snack Time

9.22.22

When everyone is hot and sweaty after a half hour of running around in the gym, and when everyone is a teensy bit cranky because they are hungry, and when everyone is also a little heightened in terms of environmental stimulation… what do you do?

Here’s an idea from Ms. Kenzie, Room 4‘s teacher. She has strung up strings of lights around the room. She turns off the bright ceiling lights, and turns on these small twinkles. She has her students bring their snacks to the table, where they can eat and interact peacefully with the team, meeting individual needs for space and assistance. This strategy to bring students from 100 to 10 in energy level is well-executed and very effective.


Chips Ahoy!

8.9.22

It’s a Friday afternoon at Crossroads Center for Children, and kids in Room 5 are having a chip taste test. If you can look closely at the pictures, there are yellow/white chips and orange ones – probably something zesty, cheesy or barbequey. Yes, they each have had their healthy snacks from home, but this is a special treat and chance to use their words to describe different flavors, contrast and compare.

If you are in the room at this session, you’ll hear laughing and chatting, and see kids sitting and staying at their tables, enjoying their friends, and making a few faces, perhaps in response to the flavors. We love to see these blossoming social interaction skills!


Group Games 8.5.22

Teachers and therapists here commonly use board games and other group games to address social skills that their students need to work on. Games can help improve skills such as interacting and communicating. Students learn to play with others and express themselves.

Today, for instance, Room 11’s crew assembled at the table for their Group Games slot. ‘B” and “J” got the board all set up while the rest of the gang made their way to the table.

Some of the things that students are working on, and you can see in these pictures:

  • Sitting with or near others, and increasing tolerance for others in one’s proximity.
  • Taking turns
  • Staying focused on the goal of the game
  • Being patient when it’s someone else’s turn.
  • Following rules.
  • Losing gracefully
  • Congratulating others when you win.
  • Collaborating in team play.
  • Accepting other games than the one that is your favorite.

Not always the case; these skills have taken a lot of practice and repetition, positive reinforcement and more practice. We’re all really proud of these guys!


 Dollhouses, Tree Houses, and Other Play Buildings 6.17.22

The benefits of dollhouse play are many. Children will learn the names of rooms, and the functions of those rooms, such as the kitchen is where we cook our food, the bedroom is where we sleep. They’ll also work on fine motor skills as they move their action figure or doll throughout the house. Creativity comes into play as they create a story to go with their doll’s actions. Interaction with other children and their dolls makes it an interactive activity for parallel or cooperative play.

Here “A” is enjoying both a tree house and a doll house, side by side, essentially a small village. He is alone at the center at the moment, so shares a doll with the photographer when approached, inviting a play partner. That is a great skill learned this year, in Room 1.


 Lego Love

 6.7.22

We really can’t say enough about Legos! The minds of our little ones are sharpened and shaped daily with these construction toys, which come in many sizes, colors and can build anything the child wishes to build.

Here are some pictures from Room 5 where all things Lego were on the tables. By creating centers in this classroom, the teachers give students the opportunity to work within a group to solve problems, and model from one another.

Let the construction begin!


Toys That Build

5.30.22

Constructing buildings, walls, automobiles, and even animals and people, Legos and other building toys are a great way to work on fine motor skills, creative problem-solving, and group-cohesion skills.

Pictured here are youngsters in Room 8 working with blocks in individual projects but together at one table, where modeling and idea-sharing are encouraged, as well as asking each other to use parts and pieces that are desired.

The final results? Impressive for sure!


Play-Doh – 3.28.22

It’s squishy, it holds form, it’s colorful, when it comes to Play-Doh, what’s not to love?

Children in Room 5, here, are enjoying centers, and at this particular table, Play-Doh is the activity at hand. You can see Ms. May with students creating pizza slices in many colors. Giving their senses a workout, they are also exercising fine-motor skills and imagination. Most importantly of all, for the purpose of this blog-spot, the interactions within the group are ample: “J” creates a pizza slice and offers it to “K”. She accepts with a “thank you.” She asks “M” what tool he has. He shows his rolling-pin abilities. These conversations are great, since it’s taken the better part of the year to have students learn to work in groups, stay in centers until the time is signaled, and interact with children they hadn’t been with in previous years. Yes, Play-Doh is a smart choice for social skills development!


Making Shapes

3.21.22

When it’s time to focus on shape skills, here are a couple of cute ideas from Room 3 today. A is working with a shape sorter, and getting the correct piece for each of the holes, while K is working with a group of piggy bank coins. The piggy bank is pictured, but what is most interesting is that K is making shapes OUT of the coins, by lining them up according to what Ms. Melissa suggests. So he has created a triangle out of circles, a rectangle, a square and so on.


3.15.22 Table Games

Do you remember Candy Land? Chutes and Ladders? These games have been around since the 1940’s and are still favored by children, parents and teachers, for the fun and the learning opportunities that avail. Board games in general lead to practice of waiting, turn-taking, problem-solving, and chances to learn to deal with disappointment along the way. But the little marker/mover that small fingers need to manipulate can make such board games just a little bit out of reach for some of our kiddos, and so teachers find games that will teach needed skills and also allow their students to engage with the motor skills they have.

Here is a wonderful group in Room 8 recently. They were playing Hungry Hungry Hippo, and loving it for at least 20 minutes, a great stretch of time for this age. See how each child is attending to task, and able to handle the playing pieces.


2.15.22 Blocks

Blocks are a classic toy and for many reasons, not the least of which is the area of mathematics, including concepts and practice with shape, size, and measurement.

Today we work with a small group of children in Room 1 as they stack and build with blocks of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Children at this age are learning to work and play in a group of children, share and take turns with supervision, and play safely with the toys at hand. The blocks serve well for these group goals and for individual goals such as naming colors, counting, pretending, and gaining fine motor finesse.

Here’s a nice article from https://www.teachearlyyears.com/ that breaks down the benefits of block play for kids!

https://www.teachearlyyears.com/learning-and-development/view/the-benefits-of-block-play

 


1.27.22 Pull Toys

Today we’re focusing on how beneficial pull-toys are for children. The article below, a blog post from MyFourand More.com, breaks it down very well; this type of toy gives children a chance to exercise on both fine and gross motor levels. Pull-toys foster independence and self-control and build muscle and hand-eye coordination.

To all of the information shared in the article, we’d like to add that for a majority of our children, toys are not always used functionally, that is to say, our children don’t always use toys – or other items – the way they are intended to be used. Legos lined up instead of connected, for example, cars sorted by color instead of “vroomed”, for another. These types of behaviors with toys are common for our kiddos, and teachers work on teaching their students to play “appropriately” with toys, or as the toys are intended, one toy at a time.

When children make progress with this foundational skill set, the possibilities increase for them to be welcomed into play by their peers. When they leave the nurture of Crossroads, they will be accepted by new friends, able to play with them, and as they grow, learn and socialize with others.

Here we can appreciate “L” a Room 6 student and delight in the fun he is having with a dinosaur pull toy. In his play, he is also using his ability to pretend, (something else that is often a deficit for our kiddos developmentally), by talking to the dinosaur and treating it as a pet of sorts.

Benefits of Pull Toys for Young Children


1.26.22 Birthday Party.

Students celebrate their birthdays in class, and we aren’t always able to share those stories. But “C” recently turned 12, and it was a very big deal, not only to him but to many staff members who have come to love him.

C made cupcakes at home and brought them in to share. Mrs. Kathy, our HR Specialist also brought in cupcakes for him, so the food was plentiful. The students in Room 12 were thrilled, of course, and so were all of the friends around the building that C visited with a cupcake.

In terms of social skills practiced during this special snack time, C and his classmates got to participate in the Happy Birthday song, waiting for others to be served before eating, saying “happy birthday” to their friend, making a choice between chocolate and vanilla, and cleaning up when done.


1.13.2022 Say “Cheese!”

Eye contact is an important aspect of communication and one that many of our students struggle with. That’s why teachers and therapists work on this with them, teaching and reinforcing children for looking, responding to their name, and showing attention in this way.

Here’s a great article found on SocialProNow breaking down the importance of eye contact. https://socialpronow.com/blog/eye-contact-important/

Ms. McKenzie, Room 4′s Special Education Teacher has sent these pictures capturing some of her kiddos responding to their names and smiling. Say cheese is a great strategy to build eye contact and smiles, because immediately she can show the child his/her picture and reinforce him/her for looking and smiling. Children love to look at themselves on camera, so it is a very natural and contextual form of reinforcement.


12.15.21 Doll House Play

Playing with dolls and a dollhouse, H moves her dolls through the rooms. She gives them a goodnight kiss when it’s time for them to go to bed. Her young hands work to move the dolls, and her mind works to role-play with them.

Children playing with dolls practice colors and positions, feelings, and rooms, and when Room 3 gets the dollhouse out, it’s one that everyone enjoys their turn with, H included. Teacher Ms. Melissa is happy because she has planned the activity center in order to address the very skills named, as well as intricate social skills such as are discussed in an interesting article below.  Researchers from UK’s Cardiff University found that doll play helps children “develop empathy and social processing skills,” when certain brain regions are activated during such play.

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/10/01/human-neuroscience-child-play-dolls-cognitive-social-benefits-children/

We love research that helps inform our practices. Almost as much as H loves the doll she’s kissing goodnight.


11.24.21 Classroom Party!

Celebrations are the best, are they not? The other day, Room 6 had an early Thanksgiving party, with special plates and napkins, placemats, and snacks. Many thanks to the moms who sent in treats to make the day special.


11.2.21 Let’s talk about lunch!

Room 12 Teaching Assistant Ms. Danielle helps student N to tell her what he wants for lunch. Yes, he has brought his lunch with him in his lunchbox sent in from home, but here she has him ask her for what else he needs in order to eat it. For example, he can ask for plasticware or a napkin. He might need help to heat his food up in the microwave or get something from the refrigerator. Maybe he needs assistance opening a package.

N uses an assistive technology device to communicate. By learning to tell someone what he wants and needs, he will be able to do so with other people outside of the classroom, such as in a later school, or in his community. Danielle and her team know the importance of teaching communication skills and giving children the practice they need to master those skills, to prepare for successful lives.

This is an example of what people who support Crossroads are supporting.

 


10.10.21 Lego Centers

Children and even many adults enjoy legos. Teachers love to use legos to address color identification, patterning, and building in increasing numbers of blocks. Legos offer fine motor work, problem-solving opportunities, and challenges that relate to engineering. (Check out a cool article below from MIT).

Here in this blog spot, we focus on and can certainly see the many social benefits of playing together in a group with legos. For one thing, being in a group gives students the opportunity to observe what others are doing, and exchange creative ideas. For another, when there is sharing and turn-taking involved, kids learn the balance of advocating for themselves and also thinking of others. Another social aspect at play here is the one of learning to work as a group to build a common project, and yet another is the flow of language as words to describe color, size, shape, and design concepts flow.

Here Room 5 has 3 tables set with different lego tasks at each. Enjoy their cuteness as we show off their progress!

What do Legos have to do with engineering?


9.6.2021 Building play skills

What? Vacation daycare play centers.

When? Over the end of summer break.

Why? Because helping children be successful in life is our mission.

Where? Crossroads Center for Children.

How? By providing structure and guidance, supervision and modeling during play and interactions, our young learners were given opportunities to play and engage with new toys, new friends, and in new places. These experiences coupled with the support of the teachers and therapists lead to the development of the social skills for the children.


7.1.21 A Last Lunch

Before we broke for summer, last week in Room 7 students shared a table for lunch one last time. Of course, most children at Crossroads will be back in July for Summer Session, but celebrating the year with a time to eat and be together was enjoyed for sure. This class has worked hard this year on their table skills, and getting everyone at this table at one time for a picture is something of an accomplishment!


6.21.21 Picnics

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather to enjoy lunches outdoors is one of the best perks of this season. A picnic is a celebration in and of itself – of a nice day, the people you’re with, and of good times! And a picnic with your class is a fun way to do all of that plus practice the skills that you’ve worked on all year long in your classroom, skills that come with food time, like sharing spaces, eating what parents have packed for us, eating meal items first and dessert items last, conversing with each other, throwing away garbage and not throwing away utensils and dishes that need to go home…

Here are a couple of pictures that Room 14 recently sent in (thank you Room 14) of one of their recent picnics.


6.7.2021 Sound and Tech Toys

If there’s anything kids seem to love, it’s noise-making toys with switches, knobs, and other technological features. There are lots of reasons not to use these toys with babies, but as children get older, this category of toys can help with fine motor skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and preparing for using technology for other reasons besides play.

Here’s an article we found that readers might find helpful when weighing the benefits of tech toys.  https://blog.sensoryedge.com/8-ways-stem-toys-can-benefit-young-children/

Here, Room 4 included tech toys as a play center. These children were able to transition from the table where there were toy tablets, keyboards, and such, to the rug for playing with dinosaurs. What a great combination for fun and learning.

 


5.12.2021 Cause and Effect Games

To play Dragon Snacks, you have to wave your hand in front of the dragon’s tummy, get clues from his nose, and reach into his mouth to get the treasure. Think of all of the cause and effect that this game fosters. With turn-taking involved there’s also a bit of competition and teamwork involved. It’s a favorite in Room 3.

Why is cause and effect important? Because children need to know that their behaviors and actions create results. This is conceptual knowledge that is the foundation for understanding concepts in literacy, science, and socialization. Here’s a great video about this subject found at 1to1 Autism Therapy.com.

https://1to1therapy.ca/the-importance-of-teaching-your-child-cause-and-effect/


4.21.2021 Board Games.

Have you been following our #Crossroads21Challenge group on Facebook? It’s been a lot of fun – each month a different classroom decides on a challenge and people can share their pictures and experiences. Getting to know people from different aspects of our community is wonderful. Right now, the challenge is #GAMES. If you head to that group right now, you’ll catch lots of our students playing games in their classrooms. Games are an important part tool for social skills development, and our classrooms select games that are geared to the particulars of the children in the group.

For today, though, we have games in Room 14. These children have been working on games all year. Some of the goals for this group are expanding the repertoire of activities beyond preferred ones, tolerating others in proximity, playing in a group of children, taking turns, and sportsmanship, to name just a few. As you can see, they are doing great on all counts!


2.12.2021 Approaching Others.

One of the things Room 7 works on throughout the year is increasing students’ interactions with others. Whether this comes about verbally, via a P.E.C.S. book, or by use of an assistive device, it is important for children to learn to communicate rather than being dependent upon others to anticipate or guess their needs. So, via games, art projects, one-to-one sessions, and so on, responding to and initiating interactions with others is a big part of their school day.

In this activity, the class made cards for some of the other departments around the school for Valentine’s Day. Then they went on a little walk through the building to deliver them. They knocked on doors, said Happy Valentine’s Day, and interacted as the delighted recipient of their approach thanked them, admired the card, and complimented their work. Getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time, however, was a whole different thing!


2.4.2021 Self Acceptance.

It’s said that self-acceptance is the first step to positive interpersonal relationships.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves”… Dalai Lama (xiv)

— Dalai Lama (xiv)

 “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” …..Gautam Buddha

— Gautam Buddha

Yet self-acceptance is almost always tricky for pre-tweens; it’s just a tricky time in one’s life. And when special needs are in play as well, social skills – including those with oneself – are further complicated.

That’s why Room 11 works on helping students to value their positive qualities and those of others. By incorporating writing skills, affirmations, and art into the classroom, students are developing social skills, starting with self-acceptance.

The portraits were done by Mr. Joey, TA.


 


1.19.2021 Playing Games.

These pictures from Room 14 actually go back a couple of months, but today, we want to talk about games and their benefits.

At Crossroads, board games are frequently used to address social skills that students need to work on. Indeed, all children, and even adults, can use board games to improve skills with interacting and communicating. However, many of our students need extra help to learn to play with others and express themselves.

Some of the things that you can see in these pictures from Room 14 include:

  • Sitting with or near others, and increasing tolerance for others in one’s proximity.
  • Taking turns
  • Staying focused on the goal of the game
  • Being patient when it’s someone else’s turn.
  • Following rules.
  • Losing gracefully
  • Congratulating others when they win.
  • Collaborating in team play.

Here’s a great article from Scholastic with even more benefits of playing board games. https://www.scholastic.com/parents/kids-activities-and-printables/activities-for-kids/arts-and-craft-ideas/benefits-board-games.html


9.18.20 Back to school

…..and back to lunches in the classroom. Children are physically distanced at their tables, but they’re still able to interact, enjoy each other’s company, and get a little bit silly. This visit was chock full of social skills, despite the increased focus on distancing!


9.1.2020 Greeting Others.

Say hello to B. This little guy is here to say hello to you this morning. Something he’s been working hard on has been “opening up” around others: greeting them, exchanging conversation, and answering social questions. Today, he is all smiles, as he confidently approaches and greets some administrative staff during the school-break. He is assisted by Ms. Erene, Behavior Technician.

GREETING OTHERS (CLICK TO VIEW)


8.21.2020 It’s the last day of ESY (Extended School Year, also known as “summer session” and Room 4 is enjoying their lunch together. You can see that they’re eating nicely, but you can’t hear their conversation, which includes labeling food items, asking questions of others, answering questions from others. Topics include the tee-shirts they’re all wearing, made in class, who has a “room” and what’s in their room, and where everyone will be in the fall. Social skills have come so far this year!


7.29.2020 Social Skills Development – Back together is where we belong!

For our kiddos, social skills often come hard. Whether a student is working on developing language and communication for interacting with others, or learning how to play functionally with toys, the skills for socialization and play are targeted throughout his/her day by teachers and therapists.

This morning, students in this classroom, Room 3 started their day with hand-washing and snack, and then had play activities, each child working on goals for his own education plan. You’ll notice that each teacher below has a clipboard or two in front of her, and is taking data on the child’s responses or actions on the goals that this setting gives opportunities for. With a variety of toys on the table, this group is working on a plethora of different goals. One boy is working on responding to his peers, another on initiating greetings to others. One is practicing manipulating pieces into a shape sorter, while another is identifying numbers. One is waiting for his turn with a preferred toy, and another is asking questions of others. Teachers are giving directions, or there are natural environmental prompts within the opportunity at hand, and noting the responses that the child makes, then giving further prompts as needed to shape the behavior or response to what is wanted.

It’s very clear that this group of learners enjoys being together again, where they are able to interact with each other, model each other, and have fun as a group.


7.28.2020 Reopening this summer has had many changes in the wake of COVID-19. But one thing that  hasn’t changed is how food times tend to be good times to practice social skills.

When students have lunch in their classrooms, first they wash hands and get their lunch boxes. These are important skills for life that involve health and independence. Eating at designated spots at their tables involves developmental skills in the realms of spatial awareness and attending to boundaries.

But the skills that have to do with communication and interaction are closely knit with developing social skills that will help with relationships going forward. Here’s what we can see:

  • Talking to/communicating with friends as able.
  • Asking for help (with a wrapper or straw).
  • Cleaning up one’s own trash and spills.
  • Offering help to another, or helping another when asked.
  • Responding to teachers to the level able.
  • Exploring humor and silliness!

Thanks to Room 5 for the fun visit and after-lunch pictures today!


3.26.2020 Update

With school closed for the second week in a row over the COVID-19 virus, this post is to offer a resource for addressing snack time for our at home learners. This activity is shared by Ms. Rebecca, Room 5’s Childhood Education Teacher, and is one of the activities she emailed to her parents just this morning. It goes along with WACKY WEDNESDAY of this week’s Virtual Spirit Week, and also gives her students a chance to be creative with food!

Found on LearnPlayImagine.com, this link will show you how make rainbow toast. What better way to make bread WACKY than to paint on it. Here’s a website that tells you how: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2012/03/rainbow-toast.html

Thank you, Rebecca, for this wonderful share!


 

2.1.2020 Social Skills Development with a new classroom pet!

There’s a new friend in town, and his name is Buster! Room 11 has adopted a dwarf hamster and the students agree that he is a super cute pal. But Buster isn’t just here for his soft fur and cute face; he’s really here to help the children work on skills. What can we learn from a hamster? All sorts of things. Social skills, for instance, like increasing compassion and caring through feeding and watering. Turn-taking, and sharing of responsibility. Talking to him so he won’t be afraid in his new home. Routing him on when he’s running in his hamster wheel. Being gentle and petting him with just a finger, because he is so little.

Buster, we’re glad you are here to help!


3.19.2019 What’s so important about social skills?

Especially when there are so many “important” things, like addition and spelling to conquer. After all, aren’t social skills simply picked up from regular daily activities? They’ll come naturally, right?
From listening to others to taking turns in conversations….. from staying calm with others to asking for help when we need it….. from apologizing to saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome”….. social skills are downright important. And often hard to learn.
Truth be told it’s frequently the case that children learn skills through their experiences, “picking them up” as they go through their days. It’s great when that happens, but it’s not always how it goes. For the majority of the children we serve at Crossroads Center for Children, there is a deep need for more attention to targeted instruction of social skills.
That’s why social skills are continually being taught in our classrooms. All of the classrooms plan play and social activities based entirely on the needs of their students. They set up scenarios and provide opportunities that will help the skills to be “picked up”.
 Wikipedia defines a social skill as “any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization”.
Of that definition, the morsel about the process of learning social skills is pretty important here at Crossroads Center for Children. We aim to help children prepare for success in life. We know from research and 20 years of actual experience with children that time spent teaching social skills has benefits in all areas of their development. Social skills are no small part of life success.  It’s easy to see the connection between social skills and skills in other areas of learning. Social skills can be seen as building blocks for other domains of life and learning. And, online, it’s easy to find articles – both scholarly and otherwise – on the topic of social skills development. Searchers can find abundant reading material specific to children with Autism, children with developmental special needs, and children in general.

While there are variations on the theme of which particular social skills are most important for success in life, most of us would agree that there are levels or stages that children move through. In teaching social skills, parents and teachers wouldn’t expect a higher level skill from a child who hasn’t yet achieved an earlier one. It would be like expecting an infant who hasn’t yet held his own head up to demonstrate the physical control over his body to run a race or play a game of soccer.
Since we have children across the autism spectrum as well as across the even larger spectrum of child development, our teachers and therapists are experts at assessment and evaluation. They are ingeniously able to pinpoint what skills their students have mastered and what needs to be addressed next.  As an ABA school our teachers go about teaching social skills with precision in planning and articulation of what skills are being targeted and what activities, including materials and location as well as other details, will help to bring about those skills for their children.

No two children are exactly alike, and students may be working on skills in more than one level or stage at a time. This is true for kids with Autism and also for children without disabilities who are typically developing peers here for daycare and nursery school.

So some children are practicing non-verbal social skills, such as tolerating being in close proximity with others, or tolerating physical contact. Some are working on verbal skills, like etiquette and manners, as well as conversational skills.  On the other hand, learning to recognize emotions by name, or label the members of one’s family is another important area for social skills development.  Important in order to become aware of one’s own emotions and those of others, and one’s own family.  Students learn about and develop relationships with family and friends. They learn to self-regulate and cooperate and think of the feelings and needs of others.  They develop play skills, and progress from isolate play to parallel play to cooperative play, dramatic play, and general play.

It’s amazing for a child to learn to tolerate the proximity of others when that used to be overwhelming. It’s a precious achievement to learn to ask for a turn, or to be able to enjoy sitting with peers to listen to a story. As it is to learn to ask for a Lego, for a break or some space when needed.  Families who gain family dinner once their child learns to sit at the table share with teachers the hugeness of their happiness. As do the parents of the child who learns to say “thank you” and later learns to spell those same words, to write them and draw a picture for his grandmother who sent him a birthday gift.
Yes, social skills are important in life. We know they are.

 


3.13.19 In the classrooms of Crossroads, snack and lunch times are frequently much more than simply snack time or lunch time.

In addition to taking in needed nourishments and hydration, another important aspect of snack and lunch times, is the social skills that are impacted. Snack time and lunch time are times each day for students to sit at the table with their friends.

If you’re an observer during snack time or lunch time,  you’ll notice many cool tasks happening at the table. You’ll see children interacting and modeling appropriate eating routines. You’ll notice them trying new foods and following through on foods Mom and Dad wanted their little one to eat.

 

Beyond the Healthy Food Program activities that are done in the classrooms each week, snack times are often the times when teachers will introduce a new healthy item to the classroom.
Frequently a child who previously found the appearance of new foods aversive will show improved tolerance when a new food appears while a familiar and preferred one is present.

 

Young children will often watch each other for cues of how to behave, making snack time and lunch time great points in the day for them to adopt new foods into their  repertoires.

Considering that our Healthy Food Program is guided by a vision that all children in our care will improve their individual eating habits during their time with  us, and grow to be healthy, pro-nourished individuals, our teachers and therapists are always finding fantastic ways to work on the eating challenges that take our special needs population by storm. For our young students, too, healthy eating is something to be learned early for best health through life. Much positive reinforcement is given for the healthy eating steps that children take.

There are several more social, attending and self-care aspects of snack time, too. For example, retrieving snacks from cubbies and backpacks when requested by the teachers, remaining in seats with others at a table for an established duration of time, cleaning up after selves when snack time is done, throwing away trash in the bin, while saving utensils and dishes that need to be washed. For young children these are all skills to be practiced with consistency in order that our students grow to function with maximum independence in life. This also serves as a time to teach communication skills. Teachers and Teaching Assistants teach their students to label the items in lunch boxes, so that they learn to request those foods by name. They work with children to say, “cracker,”, “juice,” and “done.”  They help children to say, “do you want one?”, “yes please” and “no thank you.”

 

 

We’re always proud of our students’ progress and gains with all the skills they work on during the school day, as well as hearing the great things they are doing at home. If you have a story about a skill your child has learned or practiced during snack time or meal time at home, please leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you!

 

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UPDATE posts | Annual DARE TO BE DIFFERENT Gala -2022

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