Assignment: Education – Social skills curriculum

One La Crosse school uses social skills curriculum to help students with special needs

A new curriculum geared toward kids with behavior disorders is teaching proper social skills in school.

The curriculum is called “Superheroes.”

The special education teacher at North Woods International School in La Crosse, Heather Stern, bought the curriculum with a $1,300 grant she received this year from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Stern uses the curriculum with individual students, small groups and, in one particular case, an entire classroom.

Stern meets with the students in the classroom for about 30 minutes every day to practice a lesson. Five students in the classroom have special needs.

While the lessons are geared toward kids with emotional behavioral disorders and kids on the autism spectrum, Stern said all kids can benefit from the curriculum.

“We talked about following directions,” said Stern. “What does it look to follow directions? I look at you. I listen. I nod my head or say okay, and I do what you tell me to do. So, those simple things that you or I take for granted, but kids need to be taught that stuff.”

Stern said while academics are important, for some children with special needs, they have to learn how to regulate their emotions and be in control before they will be able to learn in class.

The new curriculum she’s using is teaching students strategies to accomplish these goals.

“When you have kids going off or kids making bad choices or kids just not being able to regulate their emotions, you need something quick and easy sometimes, and this is one of those. It’s all prepared for me. I can add to it and go outside the box, but instead of recreating the circle, someone’s already done it and it’s there. The lessons are prepared. It gives me everything I need.”

Stern said the curriculum also includes incentives to help motivate students to practice the new social skills they’ve learned.