As kindergarten teachers, we know that one of the major skill areas that our young students need to work on is social development. This can be a difficult thing to teach directly, but one of my favorite resources for helping students improve their social skills is with social stories. In this post, I’m going to share my favorite tips and resources for kindergarten social stories!
What Are Social Stories?
Social stories are short scripts that are read with students to share expectations for a specific situation or target behavior. Illustrated social stories are especially helpful in kindergarten, particularly for students who could use additional support and cueing for behavior or social skills.
The general formula for a social story includes a behavior or social situation that you’d like to improve, an acceptable replacement behavior, and a simple explanation of why it’s important to use appropriate behavior at school.
There are truly countless uses for social stories in kindergarten! Here are a few examples of social stories that are commonly used in kindergarten:
- Classroom Procedures: Washing hands, lining up, going to the cafeteria
- Emotional Regulation: Taking a break, using words to express feelings
- School Expectations: Staying on task, asking for help, sitting at carpet time
- Social Skills: Interacting with peers, going to recess, taking turns
3 Social Skills That Can Be Improved with Social Stories
I have written an entire post specifically about how social stories can improve student behavior. For this post, we’re going to focus on how social stories can improve social skills in kindergarten.
1. Establishing and Maintaining Friendships
Some kindergarten students come to school having only followed along with older siblings. Other students are experiencing the school setting for the very first time. Some of the children in your class might have communication, behavior, and social challenges that will make it difficult for them to establish friendships. No matter the reason your students might have difficulty making friends, social stories are a great way to help!
A social story about friendship can create a mental script for students to use as they interact with peers. It can use descriptive statements about friendship such as “I can share my toys with a friend” or “I can ask a friend to play with me.” This will help your students understand what it means to be a friend with specific, concrete examples.
2. Navigating Unstructured Time with Peers
One of the biggest social challenges in kindergarten is navigating interactions with peers when adult support is not readily available. This happens most commonly during less structured times during the school day. Social stories can provide a predictable script and structure for students who would benefit from more social direction during these times.
For example, a social story about recess can give a student a script of choices that they can make at recess, along with behaviors that they should avoid during this time. When reviewed every day before recess, students can be reminded of these tips for unstructured parts of the daily routine.
3. Communicating with Others
There are many aspects of communicating with peers that can be challenging for young students. Social stories can walk students through solutions for various communication difficulties that they might experience during the school day.
Your students might benefit from a social story such as “I Can Use a Quiet Voice” to help them speak with an appropriate volume level for the classroom. For students who frequently resort to physical altercations instead of using their words, a social story about not hitting can provide a helpful script. It can show the student what they can do to communicate their feelings and needs without hitting.
Tips for Kindergarten Social Stories
Are you interested in using social stories to improve your students’ social skills? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of social stories in your classroom:
Use First Person
To make the social story the most effective script possible, use “I can” or “I will” statements throughout. Not only does this create an internal script that students can more easily remember, it also empowers them to make the positive choices mentioned in the social story.
Address the Function of Behavior
In order to create social stories that support your students’ needs, it’s important to identify the function of the behavior that you will be targeting. If your student is having trouble playing appropriately with peers at recess, you’ll want to find the root of the difficulty. Are they having trouble asking to join activities? Is it difficult for them to wait for their turn? Do they get angry when they lose a game? The social story for this student will vary greatly depending on the function of their behavior.
Remember that social stories are scripts that students can depend on. If they are offered a break as an option in the social story, it needs to consistently be granted when the student follows their part of the script.
The most important tip I can provide for social stories is that you actually use them! When a social story is first introduced, it’s important to read it with the student every day. If the social story involves a particular part of the school routine, you can read it together right before that point in the schedule. Over time, you might find that students only need to a quick refresher with their social story once a week or so. The goal is that the social story becomes an inner script that they can remember any time they find themselves in situations that challenge them.
Printable Social Stories for Kindergarten
If you would like to get started with social stories in your classroom, I have a resource to save you some major time! I’ve created a bundle of social stories that are helpful for a variety of social situations and behaviors common in kindergarten. These stories can help your students improve their social skills and maintain appropriate behavior in the classroom. Each story comes with black and white as well as color versions of a one-page social story and a booklet.
Save These Tips for Kindergarten Social Stories
Be sure to add this pin to your favorite teaching board! You’ll be able to quickly find these social stories for kindergarten whenever you need to give your students’ social skills a boost!