Setting Up a SocialSkills Training GroupPrimary and Post-PrimaryInformation Pack2015This NEPS Good Practice Guide was developed by educational psychologists.It is based on current knowledge in this area. It is intended as a guide only. Notall the suggestions here will apply to any one student or situation.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Setting up a Social Skills GroupSome practical considerationsThis guide was prepared by Shirley Murphy and the NEPSWaterford team. While no particular social skills programme isrecommended, key socials skills programmes referred to herewere used as part of a two year action research project inWaterford. These programmes were found to be evaluated byteachers as effective.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Setting Up a Social Skills GroupPurpose of a Social Skills Group: The aim is to teach and develop social and behavioural skills that maybe absent or ineffectively used. To identify and evaluate an effective and user-friendly programme thatcan be implemented by the school To provide a caring environment for children to learn by encouragement,experience and practise. As well as working on developing the skills within the group sessions, itis important that these are followed through at home and in the yard.Therefore meeting parents/guardians, teachers and children beforehandto discuss the group with them is important to ensure that theyunderstand the purpose of the group and are willing participants. Thiswill increase the chances of success.Who would benefit from being included in a social skills group?The following are potential participants of a social skills group. Children who the teachers think are negatively affected by feelingdifferent in some way. Children who find it difficult to make and keep friends. Children who attract attention by use of negative processes andbehaviours such as attention seeking behaviours, calling outinappropriately, inappropriate social contacts and those exhibitingdifficulties with basic social skills such as listening, turn taking andsharing. Children who are not asking for help when needed because they do notknow how to effectively seek help from adults and other children.Participants and Identifying Key Areas of FocusIt is suggested that social skills groups are between 4 and 6 participants in orderto work effectively. These participants need to be matched in theiremotional/social/behavioural needs in order to be able to effectively implementa programme. However, it is also helpful if members of the group have theirindividual areas of strength in order to act as models for each other.It is suggested that participants are identified through the use of behaviourchecklists/rating scales completed by teachers in order to identify children withGPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

specific needs and what these are. These checklists/rating scales also serveas a baseline in order to evaluate performance at the end of the programme.Parental InvolvementIn order for social skills groups to be as successful as possible, parental/guardian involvement is vital. It is suggested that meetings are held initially withparents/legal guardians to help them understand what the group is about, thekey areas of focus and to discuss with them how they can help. At thesemeetings, it is suggested that parent/guardians are advised that each week,their child will bring home a letter for them to read which outlines what theyhave been doing in the social skills group and how they, as parents/guardianscan help.Teachers’ InvolvementIt is suggested that whenever possible, teachers meet as a staff group todiscuss the social skills programme being implemented in the school and howthey can help to encourage and develop the social skills being targeted.Research has shown the significant impact that this may have on the successof the social skills programme and working towards generalisation of the skillsbeing targeted.Social skills background informationFor our purposes here we define social skills as being a range of behavioursyou need to have available to you in order to access relationships and behaveappropriately in social situations. Social skills can be tools for bringing aboutchange. They allow the individual to communicate appropriately and to havethe skills to manage the process of change.The assumption for inclusion in the group is therefore that these children havenot, for whatever reason, had the opportunity to learn or apply the targetedsocial skills effectively.It is envisaged that the group will be run in a way that is attentive to the needsof each individual participant. Because the number of pupils involved will befewer than in an average class, more attention can be given on a one-to-onebasis. This attention may go some way toward meeting individual specialeducational needs. The group cannot be seen as therapeutic in a psychologicalsense but should perhaps be seen as providing some additional help spaceand attention for children who are experiencing a specific learning difficulty withregard to some aspects of social skills acquisition.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

A General Guide to Running a Social Skills GroupThe following is a step-by-step guide to starting and running a social skillstraining group.TimeEstablish a consistent time and day the group is to meet and stick to this. Thiswill help to establish a routine and cement the importance of this work by givingthe sessions a definite time and place in the timetable.Meeting PlaceWhere the group meets is again important. It should be somewhere where: The group has sole use of the space for each session during the periodof the programme. The group will not be interrupted, over looked or overheard.In addition, the following considerations are important: Set the room up in the same way each time to avoid time being wastedand the pupils getting distracted by changes in the environment.Remove anything that may be a distraction to the participantsbeforehand, especially when working with younger children. It is a good idea to provide a circle of chairs that are all the same toprevent arguing over the one considered the best. If posters of the group rules are to be used each session, these need tobe put up before the pupils arrive. Keeping all the materials together ina folder readily accessible to all involved with the group is helpful. If the pupils have a folder/materials to bring with them, provide a trayplaced in the centre of the table/circle for them to leave these untilneeded. This will help to reduce fiddling and pupils becoming distracted.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Rules:You may choose to have no rules but some rules help the children to feel safe,secure and set clear limits.It is important that the children are involved in deciding on these rules as thiswill again contribute to the feeling of ownership of the group.Suggested rules include the following: Confidentiality within the group of what's discussed within the group(Discuss this with reference to when you, as group leader, may have tobreak that confidentiality). Only one person to talk at any one time. No eating or drinking. Treat others with respect.When rules are discussed, it is also important to talk about the consequencesif these rules are broken. Again, include the participants in this to enhanceownership and their feeling of control of the group.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Social Skills ProgrammesThe following programmes are a selection of social skills programmes availablecurrently and this selection is by no means exhaustive. This selectioncomprises of those programmes that schools are currently using and have beenfound to be useful. They are available from distributors such as Outside theBox, ETC Consult and Amazon. Prices quoted here are as appears on relevantwebsites at this time.Time to TalkPrice: 30 approxA Programme to develop oral and social interaction skills in 4 to 6-YearOldsHelps 4-6-Year-old pupils to gain access to the curriculum and developfriendships. School can be a frustrating and confusing experience for childrenwho have not developed their communication skills. Access to the curriculummay be difficult, as will developing co-operative skills and friendships. Time toTalk has been developed to teach and develop oral language and socialinteraction skills to young children. Containing 40 sessions, designed to takeplace 2 or 3 times a week, Time to Talk will help you teach and develop the'rules' of interaction with the help of Ginger Bear who features in all theactivities.The skills taught include: Eye ContactTurn TakingSharingGreetingsAwareness of FeelingsGiving and Following InstructionsListeningAttentionPlay SkillsYour pupils and your whole class will benefit from Time to Talk.[ISBN: 9781855033092; 224 Pages][Author: Alison Schroeder; Suitability: 4 - 6 ]GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Additional Resources:The Time to Talk Game‘This fantastic board game will teach and develop essential language and socialskills to pupils in Reception and Key Stage 1. The game is centred aroundGinger Bear and is designed to complement the Time to Talk book. It is a funand accessible way of helping younger children improve their communicationskills and social interactions. Pupils have the opportunity to perform a variety ofrole-play activities, practice everyday actions and provide information aboutthemselves. Through these enjoyable tasks they learn vital social skillsincluding: listening, turn-taking, asking and answering questions, engaging inbasic conversations, non-verbal communication, eye-contact andunderstanding feelings. Contains game board, 96 question cards, Ginger Beartoy, 4 Ginger Bear jigsaws, 4 playing pieces, die and teacher's notes’.Ginger Bear Puppet‘This friendly and very cute Ginger Bear puppet will be an invaluable resourcefor all social, emotional and behavioural work with your class. It is ideal for useeither on its own, or to accompany and enhance use of the Time to Talk bookor game. Ginger Bear will encourage and develop a variety of social,communication and language skills such as turn-taking, active listening, roleplay and building friendships, and will be a popular addition to any classroom.Ginger measures 280mm’.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Socially SpeakingPrice: 30 approxEffective social interaction does not come naturally to many children withlearning disabilities and yet is vital for developing and maintaining relationshipsand for independent living outside the school context.This social skills programme for pupils with mild to moderate learningdisabilities, physical and/or medical disabilities and for those with specialneeds in mainstream education is divided into three units: let's communicate;let's be friendslet's practice.It aims to increase self-esteem and improve listening skills and expressivelanguage abilities.Teacher's notes, photocopiable illustrated pupil worksheets and assessmentand evaluation forms are included.[ISBN: 9781855032521; 149 Pages][Authors: Alison Schroeder; Age Suitability: All]Additional Resource:Socially Speaking Game‘This brilliant new board game teaches and reinforces important social skills ina fun way. Designed to complement the Socially Speaking book, the gamefocuses on social interaction in 3 key areas: home, school and the widercommunity. Through a variety of role-play and problem-solving activities,children are given the opportunity to practise vital skills such as listening, turntaking, giving compliments, asking questions, making telephone calls andconveying emotions. Contains game board, 100 question cards, playing piecesand teacher's notes. Ideal for 3-6 players at Key Stage 1 & 2, plus older childrenwith special needs’.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Social Skills Programmes- an Integrated Approach from Early Years to AdolescenceMaureen Aarons & Tessa Gittens (2003)Price: 40 approxPlease note this book went out of print at the end of 2013. However, somesuppliers still have available stick.From the authors of Autism: A Social Skills Approach for Children &Adolescents, this publication contains detailed photocopiable session plans forearly years, infants, juniors and adolescents.Primarily for able and verbal children with an autistic spectrum disorder, theprogrammes are relevant to the needs of a much wider group of children thanthose with a formal diagnosis. The session plans are very flexible; they can be used as presented, oradjusted to include aspects of the national curriculum or to meet theneeds of particular groups in both clinical and educational settings.At the early-years level the programme introduces children to goodattention behaviour, which includes looking, listening and turn-taking. Byadolescence, the participants are helped to deal effectively with real-lifesituations, as well as gaining some insight into the thoughts,perspectives and intentions of others.The programmes emphasise integrated working practices that crossprofessional boundaries, particularly for teachers and speech &language therapists, which reflects the current focus for the integrationof children with special needs into mainstream education.ContentsThe introduction; The programmes (over 10 sessions for early years, infants,juniors and adolescents); Appendix.ReadershipTeachers and speech & language therapists working together in aneducational setting.ISBN: 0863883109GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

TalkaboutPrice: 52 approxDesigned to help therapists and teachers run social skills groups in a morestructured way, this comprehensive workbook suggests ideas for therapy andprovides numerous useful handouts to use in practise.Divided into six levels with more than 120 photocopiable ideas, Talkabout willraise self and others' awareness, explore communication, cover the eightaspects of body language, advance paralinguistic skills, better conversationalskills and enhance the use of assertiveness.With forms provided for session planning and evaluation, this complete socialcommunication skills package will be indispensable to professionals workingwith groups of children or adults who need to improve such skills.Contents:- Talkabout Me & You- Talkabout Communication- Talkabout Body Language- Talkabout the way we Talk- Talkabout Conversations- Talkabout AssertivenessThe complete Talkabout range consists of:complete Talkabout range consists of: Talkabout Book 1, Developing self-awareness and self-esteem skillsTalkabout Book 2, Developing social skillsTalkabout Book 3, Developing friendship skills (new in 2014)These core books come with an accompanying CD. Talkabout Activities (Book)Talkabout Relationships (Book)Talkabout for Teenagers (Book & CD)Talkabout DVDTalkabout Assessment Tools CDTalkabout Board GamesTalkabout Cards- Self Awareness[ISBN: 9780863883231, 162 Pages]GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

[Author: Alex Kelly, Suitability: All]Other Social Skills Materials Available:101 Games for Social SkillsThis invaluable new book is packed with creative and dynamic games that willhelp children to develop positive relationships. There are 2 sections to the book;the first part includes games that teach looking, listening, speaking, thinkingand concentration skills. The second consolidates the 5 skill areas and providesopportunities for children to apply them in different social contexts. All of theactivities have been tried, tested and thoroughly enjoyed! They are suitable forschools, youth groups, young adults’ groups, health departments and socialservices. Contains 144 pages (246 x 168mm).101 Games for Self EsteemThis practical book provides a comprehensive collection of innovative gamesthat are essential for any teacher interested in unlocking the full potential ofchildren by promoting their self-esteem. This is vital, as a positive self-imageleads to more effective social skills. 101 Games for Self-Esteem is full ofexciting and engaging games that promote an enjoyable environment in whichto teach and encourage children. The games are a great way for children tolearn how to relate well to others, feel more positive about themselves and toteach valuable skills, such as self-awareness, empathy, co-operation and theconfidence to trust. Benefiting from the authors' considerable knowledge andexperience, this book will enable teachers to share in the fun, humour andfriendship of games, with the positive knowledge that these childhoodexperiences will help shape the adult lives of their pupils. Contains 144 pages(246 x 168mm).Social Skills Activities for Special ChildrenFor all teachers of children with special needs, here are 142 ready-to-uselessons and reproducible line master activity sheets to help children becomeaware of acceptable social behaviour and develop proficiency in acquiring basicsocial skills. Each lesson places a specific skill within the context of real-lifesituations. It gives the teacher a means to guide students to think about thesocial skill and why it is important, and provides a hands-on activity for studentsto work through, think about, discuss, and practice in or outside of theclassroom.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

Jed Baker Resources for Children with Social Skills DifficultiesThere are a range of publications in this series including:‘Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndromeand Social-Communication Disorders (2003)’. Published by AAPCPrice 50 approx.‘Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond. (2001)’. Published byFuture Horizons. Price 44 approx.‘Social Skills Training and Frustration Manual –DVD (2007)’. Published byFuture Horizons. Price 130 approx.STOP, Think, Do, Social Skills Training by Lindy PetersenFinally, the classic 1989 ‘Stop, Think, Do Social Skills Training’ has beenrevised and below are the current editions. Outside the Box organise on-linetraining in the use of these resources and have very positive evaluations of theuse of this resource in Ireland.Stop and Think Learning, a Teacher’s Guide (1995). Price 30 approx.Stop, Think, Do, Social Skills Training, Early Years 4-8yrs (2009). Price 60Stop, Think, Do, Social Skills Training, Primary Years Schooling, 8-12yrs(2009). Price 60 approx.Stop, Think, Do, Social Skills Training, Middle Year, 12-15 (2004). Price 60approx.Stop and Think Friendship DVD Package (2006). Price 70 approx.Social Savvy, Help your child fit in with others (2008). Price 20 approx.GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015

GPG- Social Skills Training Group- NEPS- 2015 Setting Up a Social Skills Group Purpose of a Social Skills Group: The aim is to teach and develop social and behavioural skills that may be absent or ineffectively used. To identify and evaluate an effective and user-friendly programme that can be implemented by the school