Tips for Talking about Social Skills

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Have you ever said this to your child?

“When my voice sounds harsh, that means I’m frustrated.”

“When I raise one eyebrow up, it means I’m confused.”

I’m pretty sure the answer is NO.

That’s because traditionally, parents and educators typically don’t have to “teach” children the basics of social interaction or the nuances of social situations. However, interacting with others can be both confusing and frustrating for many children. Children with poor social skills are often socially isolated and that along with lack of social awareness can have life long effects.

Check out the article I wrote for the Carolina Pediatric Therapy blog by clicking the link below. I came up with six basic talking points to help parents and teachers educate students who struggle socially.

FOCUS ON SOCIAL SKILLS: TALKING POINTS TO IMPROVE SOCIAL AWARENESS

My Friends Can Tell What I’m Thinking

“My friends know me so well. They can tell what I’m thinking just by looking in my eyes.” -Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston’s friends must have good social awareness! They are able to tell what she’s thinking by looking at her eyes. I suspect… is what they’re REALLY doing is looking not only at her eyes, but checking in with her entire face and body to figure out what she’s thinking. They are observing and paying attention to her non-verbal language.

Non-verbal language is how we communicate nearly half of our verbal message! Many students struggle to pick up on this social skill. Think about how much meaning they are missing or how much they misunderstand if they struggle to understand the importance that non-verbal language has on communicating meaning.

What IS non-verbal language? Well, in the most basic sense non-verbal language includes:

  • Facial expressions- Movement of eyebrows, eyes, forehead, cheeks, lips, etc.
  • Body Language- Posture, hand gestures, proximity or change in closeness during social interaction,  etc.
  • Tone of Voice- Differences in the way the voice sounds, different stress or emphasis placed on  words or phrases

If Jennifer Aniston wasn’t trying to sell eye care products, she would’ve said,

“My friends know me so well. They can tell what I’m thinking by paying attention to my entire body and to the way my voice sounds.”

Use this commercial to get a conversation going with your children or students about the importance of non-verbal language and the meaning it conveys or how it can change the meaning of what people communicate.

I’ve created some lessons specifically teaching non-verbal language and the importance of paying attention to it during social interaction on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. You can find them by clicking the links below:

Non-Verbal Language                

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    How Do You Communicate Without Talking?

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Click below for a helpful article written by Michelle Garcia Winner about the importance of attending to non-verbal language:

4 Steps to Communication

Enjoy (non-verbal head nod given)!

Cat Tintle, M. Ed. CCC-SLP

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It’s Time to Talk to Yourself!

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Students these days are very fortunate. When I was in school, I was never directly taught social skills, how to study, or even how to organize my work. Today, teachers and other education professionals have started to learn effective ways to help students become more independent thinkers and problem solvers.

The list of skills that executive functions are involved with is very long. It can be overwhelming to try to understand how to address and improve these skills. Most people understand that executive functions are related to organization, but the skills involved include so much more than just that. Executive functioning is everything! So check out the blog article I wrote for the awesome company I work for, Carolina Pediatric Therapy . I love how they are always looking for new ideas and ways to help educate the community. This is the first article I’ve written for them and there are many more to come. Enjoy!

5 QUESTIONS EVERY PARENT SHOULD ASK BEFORE SENDING THEIR CHILD BACK TO SCHOOL

Directly speaking, how INDIRECT is your teaching?

“Boys and girls!”

“I’ll begin when you’re ready.”

“I’m busy.”

“It’s time to do your work.”

If you work with children, you probably have heard teachers or parents make similar comments. I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past! When I first began working with students with language disorders, I quickly realized I’d have to make a conscious effort to change the phrasing of my directions and requests. I learned during my training as a speech-language pathologist about how to help improve inferential language comprehension, but didn’t realize how much of our social and conversational speech is indirect until I began working.

I love learning about what’s relevant in the field of business and brain research and finding ways to apply that to education. As I listened to the Steven Pinker talk about indirect language as a window to social relations, it reminded me of how important it is that teachers, parents and other educators be aware of and make a conscious effort to not use too much indirect speech when giving directions to students. So much meaning can be missed for students with language based learning difficulties.

It’s in our nature to use indirect speech acts as a means to be perceived as polite. For example, in my early years as a speech-language pathologist, I unconsciously asked students, “Are you ready to work?” They often laughed and replied, “No.” I quickly learned to be more direct in my directions and requests. Instead of doing what’s in our nature to be polite, I learned to give direct and simple commands. Instead of asking, “Are you ready to work,” I’d tell them, “Now it’s time to work.”

So enjoy this informative and eye-opening video from RSA ANIMATE that illustrates a section of Steven Pinker’s TED talk “What Our Language Habits Reveal” and, as you get ready to start back school (Where did the summer go?) ask yourself, “How indirect is my teaching?”

Instead of saying:                            Say this instead:

“Boys and girls!”     ——–     “Sit down and stop talking.”

“I’ll begin when you’re ready.”  ——–  “Sit down, get your paper & pencil  and stop talking.”

“I’m busy.”    ——–   “I can’t talk to you right now.”

“It’s time to do your work.”  ——–  “Stop talking and begin working.”

 

*THERE IS a time for indirect language in education. Indirect language can be a great way to get students thinking for themselves during instruction and when teaching and building critical thinking skills. My point is to reduce indirect language when giving directions and in general consider when speaking to students, “How much of my language is indirect and which students are struggling to read between the lines?”

*ALSO, use indirect language to get a discussion going when working on building social skills. Have students role play different social situations and help students practice observing non-verbal language and tone of voice to determine the speaker’s true intentions and meaning. 

stuffofthought

http://stevenpinker.com/publications/stuff-thought

https://www.amazon.com/Stuff-Thought-Language-Window-Nature/dp/0143114247

This CAN’T be happening!

 

After finally creating my blog this past weekend, I spent a few days pondering about what to post. There are so many topics to cover. But then, as I came home today for a quick lunch break, it came to me. Well, it came on my TV. The topic that I’m most passionate about is social skills. And, after watching this hilarious commercial, I knew exactly what to post.  For students who struggle socially, trying to figure out what people are REALLY saying can leave you feeling just as “jacked up” as the guy in this commercial!

If you have children or work with students who struggle socially, this video will be a fun and easy way to get a few very important ideas across. Try this and let me know how it goes!

Before showing the commercial, have the child practice saying the following sentences a few times. *Encourage them to add more stress or emotion to the words that are in bold. 

         Is this MY CAR? What?! THIS is RIDICULOUS! This can’t be HAPPENING!

Then ask them what they think is happening based on the sentences.  Discuss with them how they think a different tone of voice, or the way you change your voice as you speak, impacts the meaning of what you say. Also, ask them if they think context, or where you are/who you’re with, has anything to do with the meaning of what you say.

THEN, show them this commercial:

After watching the commercial, revisit your discussion and ask the questions again and discuss.

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Ask them what they thought the girl was thinking and feeling as she realized she just got a new car.

Ask them what they think the man was thinking and feeling after he realized his tires were stolen.

Next, have them practice saying the same sentences, but take turns speaking as the girl and then as the man. *You may have to help them practice changing the tone in their voice. 

Is this MY CAR? What?! THIS is RIDICULOUS! This can’t be HAPPENING!

&

Is THIS my car? What?! This is ridiculous! This CAN’T be happening.

Have them answer how the context of the situation gave them clues about the meaning of what they were saying. Help them discuss how that applies to their lives and how it matters where you are and who you’re with when you say things.

Finally, have them summarize what they learned. Help them come up with a “take away” lesson about TONE OF VOICE and CONTEXT. AND…if you really want what they’ve learned to “sink in”, have them teach what they’ve learned to their family or other friends. Encourage them to use the State Farm commercial to help them explain what they learned.

I can’t wait to try this with my social skills clients!

Check out this website for more useful info about how to support and build social skills:

https://www.socialthinking.com/

what IS a creative slp?

You might be thinking… What does it MEAN to be a creative slp?

For my second post, I thought I’d do some self reflection and attempt to define what being a creative slp means to me.  You see, I haven’t always considered myself creative. I’m a terrible artist and a horrible singer. I can’t play any instruments and I wouldn’t exactly consider my personal style to be that original. However, after working in a private school that required the development of original lessons, I frequently found myself needing to come up with ideas. In order to create classroom assignments that helped students deepen understanding and develop critical thinking skills, my co-workers and I often had to “think outside the box”. We needed methods better than the standard multiple choice worksheets and popcorn style teacher questioning (term my boss coined referring to teacher asking a question and then having students raise hands to answer, calling on one student while the rest of the class sits unengaged and only thinking/hoping not to be the one called on).

I realized that the more I had to think of ideas, the easier it became and the number of ideas increased over time. In a sense, I learned that IDEAS BREED MORE IDEAS. I started to have so many ideas that I had to buy a notebook to write them down so I wouldn’t forget. This inspired me to create a Teachers Pay Teachers profile to develop lessons for specific speech and language concepts. Ideas for lessons and projects came to me at many times of the day and night. Now, I always carry around my idea book and LOVE checking off ideas as I create lessons for them.

I also found that the same was true when working with students. Students often have original and clever ideas for how to learn if you take the time to ask them.

In my work with clients as a private speech-language pathologist, being a creative slp means NOT buying expensive, canned programs from websites that are far from “super” (slps you know which one I’m referring to). Being a creative slp means NOT engaging in out-of-context drill practice and using dry worksheets to build articulation and language skills.

Being a creative slp DOES mean:

  • incorporating play and functional skills in order to teach concepts
  • allowing the client to have a say in how they learn
  • asking the client to help create an original game to practice a skill
  • developing new rules for playing basic children’s games while they learn
  • incorporating the interests and ideas of the client in the lesson
  • explaining the purpose of the lesson to the client
  • making sure the lesson has a purpose
  • having the client “teach” the skill to others
  • creating visuals and verbal associations for skills
  • having fun and laughing often
  • reinforcing the learning and accomplishment of persistence and effort rather than extrinsic reinforces such as “prize boxes” or candy

Check out this website for some effective and creative teaching ideas:

http://www.pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines

Thanks and let me know how you’ve used creative approaches to teaching  and speech therapy.