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Excerpted from chapter 1 of Promoting Social Success: A Curriculum for Children with Special Needs, by Gary N. Siperstein, Ph.D., & Emily Paige Rickards, M.A.
Copyright © 2004 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PROMOTING SOCIAL SUCCESS CURRICULUM
Why Are Social Skills Important?
Social skills are essential to a productive and satisfying educational experience. They are the building blocks on which a child's academic success and emotional well-being are founded, and they allow students to take full advantage of classroom instruction and activities. The development of appropriate social skills becomes even more important as more and more schools welcome students with special needs into inclusive classrooms. Students with special needs must adjust to the increased complexity of social demands found in inclusive settings, and general education students must adjust to a more heterogeneous classroom environment. Unfortunately, without social skills training, students with special needs often experience social rejection or isolation.
Achieving the social competence necessary to make and keep friends can be a catch-22 situation: Without basic social skills, children are unable to make and maintain friendships; yet it is within these peer relationships that children learn and practice ways of relating to one another. Simply put, without social skills, friends are hard to make; without friendships, social skills are hard to learn. Therefore, it is essential that students who have difficulty interacting appropriately with their peers receive explicit social instruction so they can begin building and practicing the social skills necessary to form beneficial interpersonal relationships. Social skills instruction helps students reach a level of social competence that they otherwise would be unable to obtain. The Promoting Social Success curriculum is designed to teach all children the skills they need to be socially successful, with particular emphasis on children with special needs.
Every day, teachers deal with the conflicts, emotional outbursts, changing alliances, and hurt feelings that so often characterize the social interactions of children. All of these events affect, and often interrupt, student learning. The more time you take to deal with conflicts and inappropriate behavior, the less time you have to devote to teaching actual subject matter. More and more, teachers just like you are using strategies such as cooperative groups and peer tutoring to improve the academic performance of students. These teaching strategies, however, require that students be able to interact with one another in collaborative and productive ways. Without basic social skills, students are unable to benefit from these learning experiences. Social skills instruction is a way of improving both the academic and social functioning of individual students and improving the interpersonal climate of the classroom for all students.
What Makes the Promoting Social Success Curriculum Unique?
We recognize that many teachers have tried one or even several programs that focus on improving their students' ability to get along with others. However, we believe that the Promoting Social Success curriculum, with its cognitive approach to social skills development, can make a difference for your students. Riley, the student whose drawing appears on the frontispiece and back cover, had difficulty making and maintaining friends within his peer group. The sentiment expressed in his drawing and the big smiles on the faces of the boys reflect Riley's idea of how it might feel to have friends. No one, especially not a child, should go through life without knowing what it feels like to have a friend.
Teachers already usi
An Introduction to the Promoting Social Success Curriculum