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New Lesson for FL Classrooms: Teaching Social Skills

August 23, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's back to school in Florida and across the country, and teachers and parents are realizing that some children could use some help with the simplest of social skills - such things as greeting a stranger or carrying on a casual conversation. The National Association of School Psychologists now includes training in such basic social skills in their recommended curriculum.

In the past, social skills training was exclusively used for students with diagnosed problems such as autism, but therapist Kristen Wynns says more children now need basic training on how to relate to others.

"Everyone is extremely busy, extremely focused on technology as a means of communicating with each other. As a result of that, sometimes parents aren't teaching their children some of the social skills that perhaps a few generations back it was just natural to teach your kids."

Wynns uses social skills training in individual therapy sessions and even hosts social skills camps during the summer months. There are also programs available commercially that offer multimedia lessons for children to help them improve social interaction. One such program, Boost Kids, has seen sales double in the last year, as parents and educators become more aware of the problem.

Boost Kids founder Rob Heller created the program six years ago when he realized his own pre-teen son was in need of some social education.

"To me they're, you know, life's most important lessons, and the interesting thing is that these things can be taught. I mean certainly they come more natural to some kids, but at the same time these are things that can be taught."

Social skills training also includes concepts like how to resolve conflicts. The National Association of School Psychologists maintains that improving social skills also improves school safety.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL