Remaking Recess featured in "Autism Spectrum News"

Check out this article on Remaking Recess from the Autism Spectrum News. 

With the rising cost of educational services for these children and fiscal challenges that school districts face, it is imperative to identify cost-effective autism-related interventions that are easily implemented and sustained in schools. [...] Remaking Recess was developed to address the significant difficulties that children with ASD encounter on school playgrounds. 

Read the full article here

Understanding Classroom Social Networks

By Jill Locke

Do you know who your child's friends are in his or her classroom?

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By asking children to privately write down who likes to hang out together we can reveal a social network of their classroom’s peer groupings that indicates: 1) who's connected to whom, and 2) the strength of that relationship. Four different classifications are possible that will help you understand a child’s social salience in the classroom. Children can be considered “isolates”, which means they do not belong to any peer group in the classroom or peripheral, which means they are in the bottom 30% of their classroom’s social structure. Children also can be secondary, which means they are very well connected in their classroom (the middle 40%) or nuclear, which means they are highly salient and within the top 30% of their classroom’s social structure. It is important for all children to be connected to at least one other child in their classroom to promote healthy social development.

Pictured above is a map of a real classroom's social network. All of the names have been changed. Each line represents a connection between children. The number in parentheses represents the number of times that child was nominated to any peer group, or his/her individual salience. The number among the lines is the child’s group salience, which determines how well connected the peer group is overall. Joe is a student with autism. Both he and Bailey are considered isolates. Felipe and Brian are considered peripheral as they were infrequently nominated (1) time each and have a group salience of (1) as well. Valery and Zara are considered secondary, whereas Jessica and Lily are considered nuclear given their high individual salience (10) and (12), respectively, and high group salience (11). Understanding social networks and the power dynamics within a classroom is an important way to learn more about your child’s social development. And remember, there are ways to improve social network inclusion – is your child, isolated, peripheral, secondary, or nuclear?

Help Children Talk to Peers at Lunch

There are very few opportunities during the school day when children have a chance to engage with classmates in "free" conversation.  Lunchtime is a great chance to chat with peers.  Talking with classmates at lunch is a great way for children to boost their social skills.  Observe children at lunch/snack and see if they are able to eat, relax AND talk to peers.  Some kids need a boost!  Watch the video to see Caitlin help two boys talk to each other during lunch

Peer Engagement States

By Mark Kretzmann

How engaged with peers is the child you are observing?  Is she or he solitary, parallel, parallel aware, an onlooker, jointly engaged or playing a game with rules?  Learning to identify different states of peer engagement for the children at your recess will help you help them engage.  To maximize the social benefits of recess children should regularly engage with their peers.  Aim for games!

Remaking Recess uses a coding system based on the Playground Observation of Peer Engagement (POPE) to track a child's interaction with peers during social times at school.  The POPE form and codebook can be downloaded from the Toolbox.

Teach Your Children Popular Games

Engaging with peers at a high level during recess is a great way to build social skills. Teach your child how to play games that are popular at their school. We asked 1764 elementary school students in California, Michigan, Boston and Seattle what they liked to play with their friends at school.  See the graph for their answers.

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