Social Skills Curriculum
The High Road Schools & Academies of Connecticut are diligent about advancing the social skills development of all our students. It is important for each of them to receive social skills instruction that is appropriate for their age, grade level, and disability. Accordingly, our school social workers have infused our daily curriculum with targeted social skills components that help our students reach their fullest potential.
In addition to Rachel’s Challenge—an initiative implemented at all of our schools that promotes kindness and compassion while it works to eradicate bullying among peers—here are a few of the social skills programs we currently employ:
The Second Step program can take students from preschool all the way through middle school. Each grade level features developmentally appropriate ways to teach core social-emotional skills such as empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. For grades K–5, the program concentrates on self-regulation, executive functioning, and skills for early learning, to give young kids that extra boost. The middle school program focuses on more advanced skills, like communication techniques, anger management, coping strategies, and decision making. These skills help students stay engaged in school, make good choices, set goals, and avoid peer pressure to become involved with such negative influences as substance abuse, bullying, and cyber bullying.
This program teaches students relationship boundaries and relationship-specific behaviors. Particularly applicable to students on the autism spectrum and those with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, Circles: Level 1serves as an ideal introduction to the Circle Paradigm by presenting highly abstract concepts in very simple, concrete ways that make them easy for youngsters to understand. Step-by-step dramatizations visually portray the connection between the kind of relationship and the appropriate corresponding level of intimacy (for example, it’s okay to hug your mother, but it’s not okay to hug the mail carrier).
Techniques for Tough Times
This program was originally created to provide field-proven curriculum and training for educators striving to teach life skills to at-risk students. Leigh VandenAkker and Gayle Threet, a teacher and counselor respectively, developed the program based on years of experience in the trenches. Techniques for Tough Times offers new techniques in violence prevention, conflict resolution, leadership skills, relationship skill building, and counseling. Twelve years of data from the program show increased school attendance, higher grade point averages, and significant decreases in disciplinary referrals to administration. All of this translates to a more positive school environment, in all education settings with all kinds of challenging student populations.
The High Road Schools & Academies of Connecticut help students make the most of learning opportunities by employing certified specialists to give each student additional support as needed.
Our Speech & Language Therapy Program features a coordinated and individualized approach. In group work as well as in individual sessions, our certified speech therapists work with students to correctly produce the sounds in words, increase speech intelligibility, develop vocabulary knowledge and understanding, and utilize appropriate conversational skills. Emphasis is placed on pragmatics, such as turn taking, topic maintenance, asking appropriate questions, and socialization. Grammar, syntax, and written expression are also addressed.
Our occupational therapists support students with sensory, perceptual, and motor problems in better meeting the daily demands of their environment. OTs use directed play as the primary method of treatment; however, classroom consultation directly with teachers and assistants regarding the student’s abilities is also key to their success. Directed play includes such activities as mazes and target games to develop hand-eye coordination and ball games to increase coordination between two sides of the body. Through the use of movement, touch, and other functional activities, the student more effectively develops the responses needed to function in the classroom, home, and community environments. As the child ages and his or her needs change, the focus is on the acquisition of specific skills used in daily life. These can include learning to measure baking ingredients, personal care, or crossing busy streets, depending on the student’s abilities.
Our social workers guide students through emotional and social growth issues. They focuses on helping the student develop age-appropriate skills and behaviors for the classroom and beyond. Through the use of recreational and other activities, they assist students in building self-esteem, applying social skills, and practicing leadership and team participation. The students are seen individually and in small-group sessions. It is also not unusual to find social workers in the classroom leading social skills activities.
A consulting psychologist and behaviorist are also available on an as-needed basis.
At High Road, all related services personnel work closely with classroom teachers to assure integration of learned skills into all classroom activities.
The High Road School of Hartford has a comprehensive Transition Program in place for all high school students. The vocational coordinators on staff address the transition goals listed in each student’s individualized educational plan, as well as coordinate vocational interest inventories, community out-placements, and on-site school jobs.
The first year of the Transition Program entails student participation in a preparatory multi-level curriculum. The Work Readiness class in the morning provides instruction in developing the basic skills needed to succeed in a job. The curriculum also provides individual student support in such areas as hygiene and professional dress, interviewing skills, taking directives, and dealing with unexpected scenarios. Each skill is taught through classroom-based instruction complemented by role-playing, to give the students an opportunity to practice typical work situations. The students must display acquisition of each skill taught before advancing to the next. The Work Readiness class runs 6 to 10 weeks, depending on the extensiveness of the content being taught.
The beginning of this phase of the curriculum also includes administering a Vocational Interest Survey that assesses student interests and aptitudes using a variety of quick-response inventories, as well as a computer-based inventory called CareerScope. The results of these reports guide the future training programs and community experiences in which each student would most likely achieve success by narrowing the employment possibilities to those that reflect their particular preferences and proficiencies.
The second component of the first-year student’s program consists of afternoon job cluster rotations. Based on areas of interest identified through the vocational surveys, students rotate among major training areas we offer to gauge true interest in performing jobs in these fields daily. Rotations are limited to three students at a time, ensuring individualized skill development throughout a two- to three-month period and giving staff and students an accurate record of the depth and breadth of their interest. Long-term success remains a guiding principle in the development of needed skills. During this phase, data collection obtained through ongoing assessments reveals specific supports the student will need to be successful (e.g., a one-to-one job coach, diminishing supervision, etc.).
After narrowing down the possibilities for the most suitable career paths per student, the second year of our Transition Program focuses on functional academics and work readiness remediation and troubleshooting, in the morning, followed by customized training in the relevant field(s) through volunteer opportunities, in the afternoon. Students enter specialized training in a specific field with the expectation of eventually completing the final phase of the program in the third or fourth year by filling a community-based employment need. This can be fulfilled in a variety of ways—through an enclave, through supported employment, or through independent or competitive employment—with the community-based opportunities negotiated and secured by our vocational training staff.
Lastly, the vocational coordinators for these community-based positions conduct periodic surveys with employers to gather feedback on what refinements are needed to continue advancing the student’s skill set. The ultimate goal is sustaining their community-based job en route to a productive and rewarding future in a field well suited to each student.
Click here to download flyer
The High Road Hornets are gearing up for another exciting year playing a wide range of sports, including cross-country, basketball, volleyball, softball and flag football. High Road students in grades 8–12 from across the region are eligible to be on the team once they achieve upper-level status on our behavior management system.
The team faces challenging games with students from other nonpublic schools in the area. The Hornets look forward to Fridays, when they travel to selected schools for the competition.
The competitive sports program enables the students to learn more about a variety of games as well as giving them a great opportunity to interact with new peers. Along with exercise and good sportsmanship, this activity provides team members with another venue where they can put their social skills into practice.