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What are social skills?

Social skills are the skills we use every day to interact and communicate with others. These skills include verbal and non-verbal communication such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Whenever you interact with people, you use some form of social skills.

Read about Pragmatics Milestones.

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Why are social skills important?

Social skills are important and necessary for children to establish and maintain deep, positive, and healthy relationships. Many of these skills are needed to know how to behave in different social interactions. Having good social skills allows kids to make friends, engage in conversations, deal with conflict, problem solve, and show empathy.


Things to look for in a child struggling with social skills:

  • Does not consistently use eye contact
  • Difficulty sharing
  • Does not engage in appropriate conversation (starting a conversation, turn-taking during conversation, staying on topic, appropriately ending a conversation)
  • Difficulty using appropriate body language (standing too close to someone)
  • Difficulty understanding jokes and humor
  • Difficulty understanding gestures and facial cues
  • Lack of empathy
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What problems can occur?

  • Behavior: The child may not understand how to appropriately behave in certain situations
  • Completing academic work: The child may misinterpret verbal instructions and cues to complete the work
  • Receptive language: How the child understands language
  • Expressive language: How the child uses language
  • Self-regulation: The child’s ability to control his or her behavior, emotions, and thoughts appropriate for a situation in a socially appropriate manner
  • Executive functioning: Higher-order reasoning and thinking skills


How can social groups help?

Social skills groups provide a safe and supportive environment for small groups of children to practice social skills with peers. Social skills are learned and practiced through play, role-playing, video modeling, and social stories. The goal is for children to learn these skills through peer interactions, joint attention, visual supports, and visual models. Some benefits of social skills groups include: engaging in conversation, sharing and taking turns, understanding emotions, dealing with conflict and problem-solving.


Who can benefit from social skills groups?

  • Children who are not socially developing as fast as their peers
  • Children with ADHD
  • Children with nonverbal learning disabilities
  • Children with learning or behavior issues

How can social groups help different developmental ages:

Preschool: Social skills for 4 and 5-year-olds are taught through play, role-playing, and hands-on activities. Peer socialization is the focus and is accomplished through turn-taking games (i.e. board games), engaging in make-believe games (i.e. playing house), and playing cooperative games (teaming up to match and sort).

Elementary School: Social skills for elementary age are taught through play, role-playing, hands-on activities, and stories. Peer socialization is accomplished through group games, engaging in appropriate conversation, understanding emotions, problem-solving, and dealing with conflict. Activities such as engaging in story-based discussions, playing charades, creative play (i.e. drawing), and memory games are used to teach these skills in a fun and social way. In a remote setting, social skills groups support school-age children in building their social competencies. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, the child’s role in a group, perspective-taking, problem-solving, turn-taking, demystifying emotions, how to read the room, etc. These topics are covered through various modes through role-playing, group games, group, and 1:1 discussions. The goal of the group is to increase the child’s social confidence and competence.

Middle School: Social skills for middle-school-age are taught through structured and unstructured activities, including group games and activities, role-playing, hands-on activities, and stories. Some skills that are addressed are more meaningful conversations, perspective-taking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Activities such as story-based discussions, creative play (creating your own comics), and cooperative activities (scavenger hunt, puzzles) are used to strengthen these skills. In a remote setting, social skills for middle-school-age students help strengthen the child’s self-advocacy skills. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, the child’s role in a group, perspective-taking, problem-solving, gray area thinking, demystifying emotions, how to read the room, figurative language, and idioms, etc. These topics are covered through various modes through role-playing, group games, group, and 1:1 discussions. The goal of the group is to increase the child’s social confidence and competence as well as to strengthen their self-advocacy skills.

High School: Social skills for high-school-age are taught through role-playing, storytelling, mock interviews, and learning about pragmatics (staying on topic, using gestures, and body language). Social communication skills include using language for different reasons, changing language for the listener or situation, and taking turns. By observing different scenarios and identifying varying emotions and nonverbal communication, students improve their social communication skills.

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Watch Coach Lena


Watch Coach Lena


Lena is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCCs) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and is a certified Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities. She currently holds a position in a District 75 school in Park Slope. She earned her masters in Speech Language Pathology at Long Island University. Lena is experienced working with children in Early Intervention to high school. She worked with various speech and language delays and disorders, including articulation and phonology delays/disorders, auditory processing disorder, literacy difficulties (phonics, comprehension, writing), social difficulties, and autism spectrum disorders. She is also trained and has experience with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, including picture exchange communication and speech-generating devices. Lena creates fun, enjoyable activities for all her clients, and she ties her clients interests into various activities. Excellent parent relationships and team collaboration are important for carry over and progress when working on speech and language goals.









We use a standardized empirically validated parent-report questionnaire (optional) to help assess pragmatic language development in 18- to 47-month-old children. This assessment helps identify children with delay or impairment in pragmatic language development (i.e., the use of language in a broad variety of everyday settings and in interaction with other people) compared to children of the same sex and age in months; to identify children whose expressive language skills should be further evaluated with a comprehensive speech and language assessment. We mail you the questionnaire, you fill it out, mail it back to us & we score it, provide you with the results, and schedule a 30 minute phone consultation.


This experience has been wonderful, for both my son and myself. You ve offered amazing support, for which I am grateful, and have continuously given me great strategies and suggestions. I feel like I’ve gained more tools in these 10 weeks than I have with various other therapists with whom we worked for years.

– Jackie

Our four-year old son, Kenzie, really enjoyed his play time with Caroline, Sarah and his playmate. We could tell week after week that he was developing good social skills and becoming more verbally expressive. We were right that this would be a good stepping stone to starting kindergarten. He looked forward to his playgroup therapy sessions every week!

– Roland


Language (sound, vocabulary, play, social language, grammar) developmental milestones (12 months-5 years old): Gard, Gilman & Gorman, Speech and Language Development Chart, Pro-ed, Inc. 1993.
NY State Common Core Standards (Pre-K through 12th grade), including speaking and listening.