What Can Families Do at Home to Support Social Skills?

Mary Ann Siller Listen to Mary Ann Siller's advice on what families can do at home to support social skills.


I'm Mary Ann Siller. I'm the national project manager for the American Foundation for the Blind in our professional development department, and I'm part of the Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, Texas.

How can parents and other family members support the child's acquisition of social skills? What would you like to ask families to do at home?

I feel parents need to know that building a strong portfolio of social skills is a lifelong journey. It makes a melding of skills and information from preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school—and beyond—crucial in the aspect of the journey of learning social skills. It's the foundation that we know supports school programming but also in that important world of work.

Professionals are an important link for providing new pathways for parents to learn about various social skill opportunities. We know professionals can bring the resources/information to the family that can simplify the ways to incorporate these skills in, really, all the nine areas of the expanded core curriculum. For example, we want children to find new avenues to take part in local community activities. Drama classes for incorporating drama skills are a wonderful way for children to build a conversation cycle, learn about eye contact, meeting and greeting people, and basic etiquette.

We want children to experience museums. More and more museums are finding ways to showcase descriptive language and also building hands-on programming. Museum educators realize that this instructional style is good for all patrons. And we want children to learn through experiences, and we know that's so vital. So having that opportunity in the community is so important, and we as professionals can build upon that activity and show parents that children can have those opportunities out in the community.

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