Encouraging social interaction through games
Imaginative, board, physical or interactive games can all be great fun and hugely educational in lots of different ways!
Many people say that playing games aren’t educational, but I couldn’t disagree more. If a child is engaged, participating and willing then they are learning (even if they don’t think they are!).
Quick example! Take a look at the picture below. The children are sat on the floor playing with plastic building bricks. Which skills do you think they are they using and developing?
Fine motor skills
The list could go on and on and on and on...(you get it!).
We don’t often think about all of the skills we use in everyday life, but if we did, we'd realise how sophisticated and clever we are!
Time for a challenge! Try and think of...
We use social communication every single day and in lots of different ways, so it is vitally important we explicitly challenge and develop our social skills in a fun environment, that way it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Helping younger children (KS1 and KS2)
Playing ‘shop’ and taking turns to be the customer or shopkeeper uses so many communication skills. Plus, it's fun, uses imagination and role play.
If a child is less confident, try setting up a carpet picnic with teddies and dolls as guests. The child will often feel less threatened by using toys. This is a great way to introduce games and practice social etiquette. By helping the child to set up the picnic, there will be communication and interaction with you which is a huge step in the right direction.
Helping older children (KS3 and KS4)
For older children, you could try playing their favourite video game with them. You don’t have to verbally communicate at first if it doesn't feel natural, just sit and interact through their chosen game. This makes them feel less vulnerable and they may be able to ‘teach’ you how to play. Also, you’d be sharing their space which is a privileged and trusted position to be in.
Social interaction can be very difficult for some people; both adults and children. Naturally, some of us are more socially confident and aware than others. Being different is what makes our world so diverse, we need different types of people in our lives to make it whole and full.
However, we all need to socially interact whether that is on a 1:1 basis or as part of a team or group. Our families are our first ‘team’ or group, so from day one we are integrated and surrounded by human interaction.
Word association games
Word association games are easy to play as they don’t take any time to set up, you don’t need resources and they require minimum verbal communication - any type of communication is great! Here's an example:
Dog or cat? Orange or lemon? Pool or beach?
Fish or chicken? Jeans or trackies? Chips or mash?
Red or Blue? Bath or shower? Rugby or Football?
Snow or Sun? Indoors or outdoors? Toast or cereal?
"Would you rather..." games
This game gives children easy options to make decisions so they feel less nervous. It also requires minimal verbal communication and encourages turn-taking, interaction and above all it's fun!
Would you rather... drink a big bowl of cold gravy or have a spider tangled in your hair?
Would you rather... have free superspeed wifi for a year or free Nandos for a year?
Would you rather... never eat chocolate again or never listen to music?
Once a person feels confident in themselves, they will then be able to express themselves and communicate effectively. More than anything, they will feel internally happier and become less isolated which is imperative for them to access learning opportunities.
How can EdPlace help SEND learners?
Set personally motivating and individually encouraging rewards for your child using EdPlace. Have fun learning new topics with our activities and worksheets that last between 10 - 20 minutes to ensure maximum engagement and attention! Use our varied blog posts as a stimulus or talking point to encourage thoughts around social skills and differences or abilities. Our accessibility toolbar creates a bespoke learning environment that is personal to your preferred learning style. Choose an alternative colour palette or use a reading option to reduce visual stress, or use the read-aloud feature to recite the text to you. There are so many additional features to remove barriers to learning, therefore ensuring that your child has access to all the curriculum aligned content.