As social skills develop, children need us to adapt and respond in different ways. Activities need to change in order to support or challenge this development. Mandy talked to me about Christopher, who was struggling to navigate through his time at nursery. We came up with 3 ideas to help everyone:
Tip 1 – Tune Into Play
The next time Christopher was playing Mandy watched for a while, tuning into what he was doing and saying. Then she gradually joined in alongside, mirroring Christopher’s play to let him know she was interested.
Tip 2 – Taking Turns
Sharing and taking turns were a big problem at nursery. At home, Mandy began taking turns with games that let both of them take part and share some fun. Games like throw and catch with a ball, rolling marbles down the marble run or a car down the car run, as well as taking turns to pop bubbles from the bubble machine. Christopher didn’t have to wait long for his turn so it was an easy way to start.
Tip 3 – ‘Freeze’ and Feedback
Something else we discussed was how often play would end in tears and people would only seem to remember what went wrong. So from then on Mandy’s task was to split when something was going well, then to ‘freeze’ the moment and give Christopher positive feedback. Such as, “Freeze! I like how you gave me the car – well done for sharing your toys”.
By practising his social skills at home, Christopher started to do better in nursery too.