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Developing Social Skills at Chesapeake Bay Academy

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rhonda Osisek is a speech and language pathologist who specializes in social communication in children.  She is the owner of Social Learning, LLC in Virginia Beach and the creator of The Social Butterflies Club Social Skills Program for children and The Monarch Club Social Skills Program for teens.

What are social skills and why are they important for children?

Social skills are much more than manners. It is the basis from which all language is built. Without social skills, a person cannot maneuver through the world!  Social skills are a set of unspoken rules that are expected in a given situation.

How do children develop social skills?

Children develop social communication skills in much the same way that they acquire milestones in other areas of development. Social communication skills, such as eye contact and smiling, begin to develop soon after birth. They coincide with and are embedded within regular language development and play skill development. In the normal course of language development, children learn about the rules of verbal interactions, such as how to engage others, maintain comfortable speaking distances, take conversational turns, change topics, clarify messages, and add verbal or nonverbal information. As in other areas of development, it is not unusual for children to experience some occasional social communication difficulties as they learn these unspoken rules. In addition, we are seeing an increase in the number of children that are having social communication delays because we are living in the age of technology now so more and more children are having less exposure to natural social situations to practice and develop social skills.

What are some things to look for?

Children with social communication difficulties have great trouble using language in ways that are appropriate for their age or for the setting.

  • They may not understand that we take turns to talk.
  • They may talk over another speaker or respond with inappropriate silences.
  • They may interrupt excessively.
  • They may not know how to play on the playground- some children will walk the perimeter of the playground or just stand and watch other children.
  • They may have difficulty following rules or schedules in the classroom.
  • They may not use appropriate personal space- when they are in line they may bump into other children. .
  • Their behavior may appear rude, distracted or self-involved.

* There is a checklist on our website to help parents identify any social skill weaknesses.

How can parents help their children develop social skills?

Follow the interest of your child!

  • If your child loves video games like “Minecraft” you can often find “clubs” or groups that are centered on that theme.  Local libraries often offer these groups for free or nominal fees.
  •  If your child loves to watch “Thomas the Train”, turn off the television and pull out some Thomas themed toys and engaged him in pretend play with those toys. 
  • Have play dates with peers that have the same interests.
  • Play board games with your child.  These classic games teach many social skills at one time.  Now they make them with popular themes like “Angry Birds” or “Sponge Bob”.
  • Of course, social skills groups will help teach these skills.

Find more information about our group at CBA and other locations on our website: or or call 757-422-6342