Practicing Social Skills During the Holiday Season

Dr. Sharon SacksHello, and happy holidays to all. My name is Dr. Sharon Sacks. I have worked in the field of education for students with visual impairments for over thirty years as a teacher of students with visual impairments, a university professor in teacher preparation for students with visual impairments and students with multiple disabilities, a school administrator, and a researcher.

Because of my own personal experiences as a person with a visual impairment, I am passionate about working with children, their teachers, and families on the acquisition of socially competent behavior. This vital area of the Expanded Core Curriculum is the key to developing friendships with peers, learning to interact with adults and others in the community, improving self-advocacy skills to make appropriate decisions, and even getting and maintaining a job as a teen or young adult.

The holidays are a perfect time for families and friends to gather together. Children with visual impairments should be expected to be part of all of the excitement and fun of the holiday season. Providing your child with opportunities to experience all the sounds, smells, tactile, and visual images of the holidays allows your child to share memories with others.

For example, giving your child opportunities to cook and bake special recipes, shop for a special gift for a friend or relative, or attend a holiday movie or show helps students to feel capable and reach beyond themselves. Also, the holiday season allows children who are blind or with low vision to practice their manners at family meals, social greetings when visiting others, and expand their ability to engage in meaningful and age-appropriate conversations.

Finally, I believe strongly that being a socially competent person means giving to others who are less fortunate. Think about having your child purchase a canned good or a toy for another person. I hope as you listen and read my interview about social skills instruction, you will use many of the ideas and strategies with your child while enjoying the beauty and joy of these winter holidays.