Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Look right through me, look right through me...

Well folks, my yearly dollar tree planner has been purchased and I feel ready to admit that summer is almost over. The middle of August will be here before you can say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." (As a side note: I cannot believe the little ones who started out with me in kindergarten are now in 3rd grade! Where has the time gone???!!)

Lately, my mind has been on bullying prevention. I found a new book at Goodwill called "Bullies Never Win." It's a cute introductory book that sort of skims the surface of this very complex topic. I know that there seems to be a divide among school-based SLPs as to whether or not bullying falls within our scope of practice. I am on the side of the fence that says, "Yes. This is a crucial aspect of social skills that our students need help with!" We work with students that are at an increased risk of being singled out by bullies due to the overt symptoms of their delays. It's also a topic that my students specifically asked me about last year. They are getting older and I can still remember when several of my peers truly started up with their bullying campaigns. Eight and nine are not very pleasant ages. 

I know how he feels all too well....
The issue that I have found is that most of my social skills materials focus on basic friendship skills and emotions. It's important that students understand these basic skills first. You have to have a solid foundation before you can tackle such a complex (and abstract) topic. Even as the adult, we also have to educate ourselves before tackling the topic. I really wish we received more training on it in our profession since the small nature of our speech rooms offer much more safety to children. My advice is to read, read, watch videos, ask questions of the school counselor, and read some more for good measure.  

Then, I would find a comfortable starting point. I chose the bucket filler book as my starting point. I like the explanations and examples that the author used. Plus, the teachers in my school use it as a way to introduce their classroom expectations. The students all have "buckets" by the door or on their name tags that they try to fill up each day. The repetition from me helps reinforce the classroom expectation in a positive way. Add in a little mini discussion about "bucket fillers" and "bucket dippers" to each character description following book activities....You get stealthy social skills!

If you want something a little bit more to the point for the older students, I found two really great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. My favorite is the BULLY Prevention worksheet packet by ARTrageous Fun. I also like the Bully or Buddy? Interactive bulletin board activity. It inspired me to make my own packet to use with my 4th and 5th graders.

Grab your copy of Bully vs. Friend here.

My packet is designed to help define bullying by answering the five wh- questions. I even included a special section on girls who bully. It then goes back into a friendship lesson so they can see that there is a difference between an argument and actual bullying. I hope this will help someone else out there. 

A pebble in the water makes a ripple effect
every action in this world will bear a consequence
If you wade around forever, you will surely drown
I see what's going down....
-- Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

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