Improving Social Behaviors in the Classroom.
When it comes to teaching social skills to young learners, instructors are always looking for a defined curriculum that presents the precise skills to address and how to teach them. A group of highly skilled professionals at the UCLA Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program has created a curriculum that provides detailed day-by-day lessons to be incorporated into the regular school day. The intent is to provide teachers with a developmentally appropriate sequence of basic social skills by breaking each skill into its component parts. Each skill is introduced and then built upon throughout the weeks. This is a highly structured, sequenced curriculum that enhances specific social goals that are the stepping stones of building appropriate social behaviors. There are four categories: Possessive Understanding/Acknowledgement of Others; Basic Initiation Skills; Turn Taking and Simple Social Play; and Cooperation. There are daily lessons that span 25 weeks, making implementation of the curriculum a breeze. Each week contains a listing of the behavioral objective, how to identify the skill components and a list of lessons and materials for the week. Each skill is targeted to be learned in a week of themed activities that can be taught in short segments and then revisited and generalized in the classroom. There is even a Dear Parents letter to be photocopied and sent home at the beginning of the week so that families can reinforce and generalize the skills being taught that week. The curriculum is designed for preschool or early elementary special education teachers of students with autism spectrum disorders but can also be used with any students who have developmental or emotional difficulties. The curriculum is highly structured to encourage peer interaction within small groups in the classroom setting. (Authors: Stephanny Freeman, Gazi Begum, Kristen Hayashida & Tanya Paparella.)