Group/Social activities for 5 year old...

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Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

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Joined: 12 Jun 2013
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 178

21 May 2015, 5:40 am

Recently, my boy has been saying more and more that he wants to be around other kids. After a really rough year at preschool last year, he's been home with me and my daughter who is 2. We are planning to homeschool next year for kindergarten too. We don't have good options for school for him at this time where we live, but that may change in the future.

Right now, he really doesn't have too many social opportunities. We take him to neighbourhood playgrounds and our pool where he sees the same kids all the time, almost everyday. He comes to playgroups when I take my daughter and joins in her gymnastics class for 2-3 year olds occasionally. He also goes to soccer for autistic kids once a week. And he plays with his sister a lot, all the time. We don't really have friends with kids that we can set up for structured play dates. We don't have family around either. In general my husband and I are kind of antisocial- we like to do family stuff and other independent things. I guess this makes it a bit more difficult than if we were social butterflies ourselves.

We work on social skills at home and try to get him to practice what he's learning when we are out and about. When he's around other kids, he doesn't really try to interact with them other than running or climbing with him. My husband is really good at corralling a few kids together on the playground for a game of tag or hide and seek which my son can join in. I'm not good at this. Occasionally he gets paranoid they are trying to take his toys or hurt his sister and he lashes out. Most of the time he seems happy doing his own thing and isn't too interested in the other kids.

I was thinking of starting a social skills group with other kids with HFA or Asperger's. We don't have anything like that here. It would be a lot of work for me on top of everything else. Has anyone run a group like this before?

What kinds of structured activities would be good for a 5 year old? We tried karate this year (will try again in the fall), but he didn't want to listen or follow the directions or join in with the other kids. It's the same with soccer too, but they are more accommodating there as it is for autistic kids anyway.

He is generally a happy kid and we do a lot of fun stuff together as a family and he's learning a lot and always exploring his special interests. He's also really happy to have a sister who plays with him now. But I think he feels like he is missing out on something. He has a lot of the motivation now to try to join group activities and try to engage with kids. And I know he has developed many social skills and language abilities now that he didn't have when he was at preschool. I can't seem to get him to understand that to have fun with the other kids and play with them in these group activities and situations (which is what he says he wants to do) that he has to put in the effort and remember the skills that we practice and talk about.

I'm trying to put together a plan to address this and give him more opportunities. Any advice will be welcome.
Thanks again.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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Joined: 14 Oct 2014
Gender: Female
Posts: 129

21 May 2015, 7:52 am

I am not as social as I should be I am super friendly but its not the same as being truly social because
I have to force myself to try to make play dates

Libraries sometimes have readings and group activities they are free and usually more quite
Large Craft stores sometimes craft lessons for kids some cost


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Joined: 5 Jan 2014
Gender: Female
Posts: 583

21 May 2015, 8:32 am

I have never run a group like that before, but I have put my kids in social skills group. Usually the format was something like: opening circle, structured game, craft, free play (where socialising is encouraged), ending circle, and it would go for 45 mins-1 hr. The crafts were usually pretty simple, like decorate a mask or colour a flower, and usually tied to some kind of theme. Sometimes they'd read a book about a social skill in opening circle to support the theme. ETA: Usually they sing a song in opening and ending circle. There's a song they sing that I can't currently think of, but it involves saying hello to each child and then also doing an action that each child picks.
Is that the kind of thing you're looking to run? It could be very successful (ours always has a waiting list) but it also sounds like a lot of work. Our groups require volunteers to maintain a low adult:child ratio. I do know someone who started up a therapy centre out of her home though and she runs summer camps, so it is possible.

One time they did a craft where they traced around and cut out the kids' hands and then each kid had to say something they liked about each other kid and write it on the hand. I thought that was a cool idea.

We have a little group that we meet up with but it's not structured. It's just a few people I'm friends with and we pick a destination and hang out. Sometimes we rent a gym or trampoline place together so our kids have free-reign of the place. A parachute is a great investment IMO.

It might be worth it to try to find him a few friends to have over on playdates because I find that with my kids anyway, they do better in one-on-one interaction. When there are a bunch of kids, they are a lot less likely to socialise with anyone. So if you want to get him really socialising, it might good to start with just one person. You could have a kid over to a do a specific activity- maybe you are inviting a friend over to make playdough. This way you are facilitating, but he will need to socialise with his friend, taking turns and stuff. (And then they can have free time after).

Mum to two awesome kids on the spectrum (16 and 13 years old).