Outings & Activities
Years of working with young adolescents at Chapman Farm School have taught us the importance of teaching "soft skills," the often invisible code of conduct we are all expected to just understand.
We find that while social education groups are invaluable for teaching the hidden rules explicitly, the best way to move kids toward mastery of these skills is to put them in the position for purposeful, guided practice, early and often.
We have been using social outings to teach soft skills to our own students for years, and given the success with the transference of skills, have decided to open them up to other South Shore students in grades 3-6.
Think about the hidden skills required for a child to enjoy a typical "night out" with a group of friends- maybe a trip to Whole Foods for dinner and then to play a few rounds of laser tag:
Negotiating a grocery store
Money handling and management
Conversation over a meal
"In public" table manners
Cleaning up for the next person coming into the space
Traveling in a group in a large van
Waiting your turn
Coping with equipment malfunction
Winning and losing
Leaving a preferred activity with grace
Our outings teach kids to notice and understand, then practice, in a real-life setting, "social whys" with guidance. The magic is in the presentation- kids work hard on their social skills during a night out- but don't even notice because they are having so much fun. It's kind of like the social version of hiding pureed veggies in pizza sauce.