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New Lesson for NC Classrooms: Teaching Social Skills

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 By Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC, Contact
August 16, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - It's back to school in North Carolina and across the country, and teachers and parents are realizing some children could use help with the simplest of social skills, like greeting a stranger or carrying on casual conversation. The National Association of School Psychologists now includes the training in its recommended curriculum.

In the past, social skills training was exclusively used for students with diagnosed problems such as autism, but Raleigh psychotherapist 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 preteen son was in need of some social education.

"To me they're life's most important lessons and the interesting thing is that these things can be taught. 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 conflict. The National Association of School Psychologists maintains that improving social skills also improves school safety.


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