The social skills transition group was created to support the needs of our families we serve at ECMHP. Transition services originate from the Comprehensive Therapeutic Nursery School (CTN). This service follows the child through Kindergarten and first grade. Our Transition Specialist works with the child, parent and teacher to support their success in school. Nearly three out of four children graduating from CTN go on to mainstream classrooms. Transition services have been limited to children only enrolled in CTN. With frequent consultation and collaboration with ECMHP child & family therapists, it became evident that other children, who did not attend CTN, needed social-emotional support. Out of this need, the social skills transition group was created.
The social skills transitions group consists of a 8 week summer course followed by a monthly support group. The social skills group clinicians work with the caregivers, the children, and are available to offer consultation to the child’s therapist and Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten teacher.
The 8-week summer course provides children with an opportunity to practice their social skills to be successful in Kindergarten. The group is 90 mins long and is conducted 1x/week. We focus on the following skills: sharing, taking turns, accepting no and using calming strategies, listening and following rules, stating needs, transitioning activities, and being flexible. Every child who participates is not currently demonstrating these social skills at an age appropriate level.
While the children are participating in the social skills group, we simultaneously provide the caregivers emotional support and psychoeducation in a support group. The caregivers are given concrete information on how to support their child through this transition, how to advocate for their child within the school district, and how to separate their own thoughts/feelings in order to meet the unique needs of their child at this time. WE have facilitated the following: how to communicate with school staff, managing homework, child/parent conferences: what to say & what not say, ways to support your child’s learning at home, advocating for your child: IEP vs. 504 plan.
To end each session, the caregivers join their child for a 30 min. dyadic activity facilitated by the social skills group clinicians. These activities aim to increase the child’s ability to seek adults for support when needed, increase their ability to follow rules, support the caregiver in attuning to their child’s needs, and increase the dyad’s capacity to engage reciprocally and in a mutually enjoyable way. Supporting the dyad during the 30 min. exercise allows them to practice the skills needed to be successful in managing daily routines (e.g. bedtime, getting ready for school in morning, and homework).
Upon completion of the 8-week summer course, families are invited to participate in a monthly support group September-May to help globalize gains made in treatment. The monthly meetings are structured in the same way: children’s group, caregiver group, and 30 min. dyadic activity.
STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES