Teacher Tips: Improving Social Skills in ADHD Students
Here are some tips on Improving Social Skills:
Provide a safe environment for the child. Make sure the child knows you
are his friend and you are there to help him. Treat him with respect.
Never belittle him in front of his peers. Both he and the other children
know that he stands out, and if the teacher belittles the child, then
the rest of the children will see that as permission from the teacher
to belittle the child as well.
Enlisting the support of peers in the classroom can greatly enhance your student's self-esteem. Students with good social awareness and who like to be helpful can be paired with him. This pairing can take the form of being a "study buddy", doing activities/projects, or playing on the playground. Cross-age tutoring with older or younger students can also have social benefits. Most successful pairing is done with adequate preparation of the paired student, planning meetings with the pair to set expectations, and with parental permission. Pairing expectations and time-commitments should be fairly limited in scope to increase the opportunity for success and lessen the constraints on the paired students.
Students with attentional problems tend to do well in the cooperative group instructional format. Small student groupings of three to five members, in which the students "sink or swim" together to complete assignments/projects, encourage students to share organizational ideas and responsibilities, and gives an ideal setting for processing interpersonal skills on a regular basis.
Small "play groups" of two to four students can help your student
to develop more effective social skills. These groups are most effective
if socially competent peers are willingly included in the group. The group
should be focused on activities that stress interaction and cooperation.
Board games, building projects, and sessions that promote frequent verbal
interactions provide the greatest opportunity for learning appropriate
social skills and controlling impulsivity. Your student would benefit
most when the target social skills are identified and practiced with them
prior to the activity and processed after the activity.
A subtle way for your student to learn social skills is through the use of guided observation of his peers on the playground. Accompany them on to the playground and point out the way other students initiate activities, cooperate in a game, respond to rejection, deal with being alone, etc.
For many students, thirty minutes on the playground is beyond their capability
to maintain peer relationships successfully. If necessary, break up the
recess into ten minutes of activity, a ten minute check-in with the teacher/playground
supervisor, then another ten minute activity period.
It is helpful to meet with your student prior to his lunchroom/playground period to review his plan for recess activity and with whom he will sit during lunch. Have him ask peers in advance of the recess block to do a certain activity with him. Process the activity with your student after recess and make suggestions for the following day.
Hopefully these will help the ADHD students in your classroom to be more successful. You can learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder at the ADHD Information Library.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. This is a sampling of over 500 classroom interventions for your use at http://www.ADDinSchool.com
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