Activities and Strategies to Promote Social Communication Skills in Children

Activities and Strategies to Promote Social Communication Skills in Children

Children need to develop good social communication skills in order to fit in to social situations for the rest of their lives. Communication is key to allowing young children to be part of a group like a classroom and have successful, functional relationships with peers and adults in the environment. These communication skills allow them to interpret others emotions, control their own emotions and see the cause and effect of social communication. These activities help develop and increase basic social communication skills for children preschool and kindergarten age.

Social Communication Skills for Classroom Rules and Expectations

This activity helps set the stage for overall social communication skills in the classroom. Begin by asking the children how they are kind to others. Take examples from the children about ways to be kind to friends. You can guide them by giving the examples of sharing and helping. Talk to them about how they are safe at school. Allow them to give examples like using walking feet, sliding on their bottom and keeping hands to themselves. Ask them how they are responsible at school. This is when they clean up, keep their desks or areas tidy and listen to the teacher. Make a poster of the rules, be kind, be safe and be responsible with photos of the kids following these rules. Display this where it can be referenced daily.

Social Communication Skills for Turn Taking

At morning meeting or circle time each day, have the children take turns telling one thing about their evening. This is easily done by offering an object that is passed around and the child with the object gets to talk. Some ideas for objects to pass are a small stuffed animal, a puppet, a bean bag or ball. Make the items based on a classroom theme or upcoming holiday like a small pumpkin or a plastic Easter egg. This activity will give the children practice waiting for a turn. Depending on where they are in the line, some children will have to wait many turns before they get the object. This teaches social communication in the form of patience and listening.

Social Communication Skills and Problem Solving

Young children are notorious for becoming easily upset when things don’t go their way. These situations are probably the most frequent opportunity to teach social communication in the classroom or at home. One common issue that arises is sharing items. Teach children to say “my turn” or “can I have a turn?” instead of taking the item. When there are children who are too shy to ask to play or insert themselves forcefully into play, teach them to use phrases like, “can I play?” or “do you want to play?” For very young or low functioning children it is appropriate to teach them phrases as simple as “mine” or “play” to express their needs. Role-play these situations during small group times to turn this into a structured social communication lesson.

Social Communication Skills and Pretend Play

Give children a chance to pretend play in a structured setting in the classroom. Set up a pretend play scheme like an animal hospital or a restaurant. Assign children specific roles to play like a vet, a groomer, a cook, dishwasher or server. Join in the play to get the children started. Give children examples of what sort of social communication or language to use when pretend playing like “Is your dog sick?”, “What hurts on him?”, or “What would you like to eat?” Act out schemes and encourage them to join. Give children the words if they need help. Choose an assertive child to play a main role with you so when you slowly pull yourself from the play, that child can help take your role as facilitator.

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