How to Use a Social Skills Story to Improve Student Behavior

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A social skills story can be an effective way to teach students how to behave appropriately in a given social situation.  Explicit social skills instruction can be difficult but using a social skills story can give students and teachers the script of the expectations they need to meet to experience success at school.  The social script of a social skills story can provide is especially helpful for students with autism and behavior concerns. Social skills stories can be used for endless behaviors and situations.  As long as they are well written and used consistently, social skills stories are an excellent tool for social skills instruction.
how to write and use social stories in the classroom

How Should You Use A Social Skills Story?

Teachers should use a social skills story to teach specific social skills to students.  To use a social skills story effectively, teachers must be consistent and follow through.  If the social skills story says a student can take a break when they are upset, and the student follows the script, teachers must follow through and grant the break.  Consistency is truly the most critical component of any classroom management tool.  Kids need to trust that you are going to do what you say will do.
Use social stories to give your students the social skills they need
Some kids will need to read their social skills story every day all school year for it to be effective.  Other kids may only need to read it a few times to be successful.  I once had a student who would leave the classroom when he got upset.  We developed a social skills story to teach him to stay in an assigned space until someone could come to give him break in these situations.  As soon as he figured out that if he followed the directions, he got his break.  After a few weeks of using the story consistently, he didn’t need to read his story daily anymore.  We would still pull the story out every so often to review. 
 

Tips For Writing a Social Skills Story

To write a social skills story you need to identify the behavior or social situation you would like to improve.  If you are working on a specific behavior, it is important to understand the function of the behavior (that’s a whole separate blog post!) to know what to include in your story.  If you have a student who constantly calls out, you’ll want to write a story to remind him to raise his hand and wait quietly.  You should also include a replacement behavior.  Like holding a finger in front of his mouth (quiet sign) to remind him to not talk.  Maybe your target behavior is bigger like throwing a tantrum when a student is upset.  You’ll definitely want to include calming strategy options in your story. 
learn how to write effective social stories
It’s best to write a social skills story in first person using “I can” or “I will” statements to give students the power to make a positive choice.  Using first-person helps to give students the scripts or directions they need to be successful in a variety of social situations.  If a student has a difficult time during fire drills, you can write a social skills story to help the child to know what to expect and the appropriate way to react. 
I like to end my social skills stories with why we do these behaviors. A simple explanation like, “When I used my words instead of hitting, my friends are happy.  This makes me feel happy, too.” is all you need in most cases.  This ending helps to wrap it all up and helps students to understand that our behavior affects those around us.  In order for everyone to be safe or happy at school, we need to follow the school rules.  Social skills stories go a long way to help students to understand these protocols.
get a free social story to use with your students!
Writing social skills stories doesn’t have to be difficult (even for regular ed teachers!).  Just keep things simple and keep your students in mind.  If you have a student who loves Mario, try to incorporate Mario in the story.  Be creative and have fun with it.  After all, you’ll be reading them or hearing them pretty often!  Want to give social skills stories a try?  You can grab my Social Skills Story – I Will Not Call Out freebie here.  If you’re short on time but ready to take the plunge into using social skills stories, my complete bundle of social skills stories is here. 

Looking for more helpful social skills resources?  Learn all about visual supports in the classroom here. 

Amy

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