This summer our Social Adventures groups at Children’s Therapy Associates in Natick, MA are going great! We are especially excited about the dynamics we have among the kids. While we always work hard to match kids with complimentary peers, the fact is that some groups just seem to have that “just right” chemistry. That is the case with one of the groups that I am leading this summer with an awesome OT, Alicia.
The thing about this group is that we have one super silly kiddo with almost no impulse control and then we have a few other kids who tend to be bandwagon jumpers. This combination can, needless to say, make group management rather challenging. The first week or two, our silly friend was in the “honeymoon phase” and kept himself in check pretty well. And then came last week… Right from the beginning our silly friend got going, the rest of the kids piled on, and chaos ensued. We tried to pull the silly friend aside and explain to him that there is a time to be silly, but this isn’t it. But this didn’t work too well. In response, he simply pointed to his laughing peers and announced, “Yes it is! They all think I’m funny.”
And he was pretty funny, so getting him to stop seemed unlikely. We had to take another tactic. Enter… Role Play. We immediately told the kids that they would be making a movie called, Making My Own Good Choices. I was the Silly Kid and each of the kids got to take turns being the other starring role, The Friend. The kids in the audience were The Teacher and The Judges.
Before we started, we explained that The Friend had 3 choices when I started to get silly: to copy, to laugh or to make a good choice to ignore. The Judges would then call out “Cut!” for the first two responses and “Thumbs Up!” for the last. Each child was allowed to respond in any of these 3 ways.
The show began with The Teacher saying, “Everyone open your book and do your work quietly.” The Friend and I then used one hand as paper and the other to mime writing. After a few seconds, I began to act silly. When The Friend made a choice to ignore, I kept being silly for a couple of seconds. Then I dramatically looked over at The Friend and used body language to convey that I just remembered what I was supposed to be doing and went back to “writing” quietly. When The Friend chose to laugh or copy, the audience would say, “Cut!” and then The Friend would have a chance to try again and make the Good Choice.
After several rounds of the role play, the rest of the group ran pretty smoothly. But, I am sure we have more challenges ahead because this little guy is really funny
How have you been managing the summer sillies?
Submitted by: Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP
photo by: www.cheriejphotography.com
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