Pragmatics and Social Skills
At the Fremantle LDC it is recognised that children with DLD typically experience difficulty in developing age appropriate play and socialisation skills due to their language disorder.
As play and social skills are such a vital area to both the successful language and general development of the child, the Fremantle LDC has developed specific play and social skills assessment processes and programs that teach strategies and skills in identified areas of need.
The Fun Friends Program is implemented in all year 1 and 2 classes and the Friends for Life Program is implemented across year 3 classes. These programs have shown to help children develop emotionally and socially and teach emotional resilience through a variety of practical and useful strategies.
The Friends for Life program is specifically targeted at the LDC speech and language impaired year 3 students as they prepare to return to their home school. This is often an anxious time for students who can find it difficult to communicate and express their fears.
Through this program of weekly lessons, children learn to deal with anxieties, are presented with interactive social skills and are helped to identify appropriate role models and peer support networks.
Two parent workshops are provided at each site so parents can support and encourage their child during the transition to the new school.
A whole school focus on Values and the language of Virtues is implemented as an effective program to support the development of resilience.
Teachers assess and program for students’ Play and Social Skills using the assessment and planning documents, anecdotal notes, checklists and observations in a range of classroom and social environments.
The language of emotions is explicity taught along with the social skills strategies outlined in Connect for Kids Programs. Parent workshops and information sessions are provided to develop their awareness and understanding of the impact of speech and language difficulties on social skill development.
The Fremantle LDC has a strong NO Bullying Policy that incorporates the strategies taught in the social skills programs.
Joint Action Routines
The FLDC use Joint Action Routines to support students in the early years to develop the skills of social play with their peers. A Joint Action Routine is a powerful teaching tool for children with communication disorders. The term describes a play routine in which two or more children (child/adult, child/child) engage in a meaningful activity together wherein communication patterns are taught and rehearsed. The routines are:
- generally based on familiar experiences such as going shopping, visiting the doctor, getting ready for school, having lunch at a café or buying a pet.
- there is an expectation that each partner will participate in specified actions and communicative responses within a logical sequence based on a unifying theme.
- the routines must require participants to interact and negotiate within the context provided. They generally involve two settings which require the participants to move between scenarios.
- scripts are designed to provide opportunities for turn taking and allow for planned repetition and builds on strengths and skills gained in previous scenarios.
- ultimately the children are encouraged to transfer their developing play skills to other scenarios and to generalise across different play environments.
In 2012, Fremantle LDC began the implementation of KidsMatter Primary, a mental health and wellbeing framework proven to make a positive difference to the lives of Australian children. KidsMatter Primary provides the methods, tools and support to help schools work with parents and carers, health services and the wider community to nurture happy, balanced kids.
Through KidsMatter Primary, schools undertake a two to three year cyclical process in which they plan and take action to be a positive community – one that is founded on respectful relationships and a sense of belonging and inclusion, and that promotes:
- social and emotional learning (including evidence-based social and emotional learning programs)
- working authentically with parents, carers and families
- Support for students who may be experiencing mental health difficulties
Following an introductory session outlining the programme, a KidsMatter Action Team was formed that includes staff from all three sites as well as our school chaplain and a parent representative. The Action Team attended two days of Professional Development, to provide them with the tools and skills to provide ongoing professional development on the KidsMatter framework to all staff within the school. Component 1 covers the importance of building a Positive School Community through:
- developing a sense of Belonging and Connectedness in families, students and staff.
- ensuring Collaboration occurs between families, students and staff and,
- enhancing Inclusivity of all families, students and staff.
Information gathered from staff and families will be used to create a Mental Health Map of our school as well as an Action Plan to address any identified areas of need and support areas of strength. It is planned that the school will continue to implement the other components over the next three years.