Thursday, January 19, 2017

Social Skills

At last year's closing parent-teacher conference, when asked what our expectations were for the coming academic term, I expressed the hope that more interaction between the typical and challenged children at school could be fostered.

Little A's second grade class had three typical, two high functioning, and two moderately challenged children in attendance, and the last period of each school day was "free play". I usually arrived early enough to catch part of this session, and observed that what ended up happening was that the typical and high functioning kids tended to play together while the other two were generally left out. They would be asked to join, but if no interested was shown, there was no further encouragement to integrate the less socially adept child into the fold of the rest.

While I appreciate that the teachers at this point in the day wanted to let the students work on their own group dynamic,  they did also know that children like Little A needed more of a "push" to join the bigger group.

Thankfully, my suggestion was heeded, and this year the period at the end of each schoolday  is a social skills lesson. Instead of choosing their own activities, an integrated play group activity is instigated, and all the children in the class are required to participate until the closing bell sounds.

At this year's first parent-teacher conference, I was told that social skills is the class Little A enjoys the most in each day, and looks forward to. This brought about mixed emotions. While glad my son is starting to socialise appropriately, I longed for more opportunities to do this outside of the classroom. The biggest challenge for a child like mine is making friends, and play dates are hard to arrange when most kids have schedules packed with after-school sports and activities.

Still, I am sure we will find a way, and since Little A has been spending most afternoons after school at the pool again, even if the weather is still decidedly chilly, the children in the building are also around, and there are more chances to practice these new skills. 

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