Lego®, Helping Children “Master” Social Skills Development
Mastering the Perfect Learning Toy
Can there be a more versatile toy? Is there toy we can love at any age or use at any age? Lego® could therefore be the perfect tool to use in programs that support the development of social skills in children. As Lego® is all about making and building while playing, social play development can be supported in ways that match each child’s needs. The play can simple or complex, and the support structured or flexible.
The upcoming “Lego® Masters” is proof of Lego’s® potential for collaborative play. The participants need to not only be creative with Lego® but need to demonstrate high levels of skill in communicating and working together. The level of interest in the show demonstrates its appeal to all ages and all types of people.
EarlyEd has been delivering our Lego® Friendship Skills Group programs regularly for many years, particularly in the school holidays, using the Lego®-Based Therapy Program developed by Daniel B. LeGoff (2014). Lego Masters’ host, Hamish Blake’s visit to EarlyEd’s “Lego® Friendship Skills Group” offered the opportunity to demonstrate how children benefit from these programs and how Lego can be fun while providing the structure for an evidence based approach to social skill development.
Children with a disability often need support developing social skills. Just as they do with learning in other developmental areas they need a step by step individually planned program. The best thing about learning social skills is that you need to do it with people and that makes it fun. What better way could there be to learn than by playing? The EarlyEd team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists or special educators delivering our Lego® Friendship groups make the most of each intervention session by supporting each child’s individual communication, motor, perceptual and behavioural goals.
Lego play is typically presented as a solo play activity. How can it then be used as a social activity? Just as “Lego Masters” has a team in this program we group children into pairs and give them turns at specific social roles. We have “builders” and “part finders”. Each team member takes turns, waits, listens, asks for help and builds something they have chosen together. This structure for play, the Lego® instruction booklets and the easily identified Lego® pieces makes communicating, playing and building together achievable.
EarlyEd is committed to using evidence based programs like the Lego®-Base Therapy Program. Our groups involve all family members in the play. In this way everyone learns how to support social skill development with hands on experience. Brothers and sisters model social and creative play and learn strategies to use at home. This makes it easier to transfer the Lego® play skills into everyday play.
Ask EarlyEd to deliver at schools and OOSH
Lego® Friendship Skills Group programs is not just ideal for the school holidays. It could work well delivered over a block of 3-5 weeks after school, before school and at vacation care (at OOSH programs). Parents can ask OOSH services if they can use their NDIS package funding to have their therapists deliver an inclusive peer mediated play session. Parents could ask their school if they can use their NDIS package to have EarlyEd run a lunch time social skills program. OOSH services can use their professional development training budget to learn through EarlyEd about supporting social skills.
EarlyEd’s approaches are recognised as best practices in early intervention particularly those that are family-centred and inclusive. If we want to make sure children are getting the most out of learning opportunities we need make sure early intervention organisations like EarlyEd can continue to operate under NDIS. EarlyEd has to fund raise to cover supports for parents and families. The under spend by NDIS of up to $3.5b because of slow processing means families are waiting for services and providers like EarlyEd are drowning in red tape.
Our Families Matter campaign aims to find ways to make sure all families with a child with a disability have the support they need when they need it. Gaps have arisen since the roll out of NDIS and families are able to access less support than they used to. Families have more control over what supports they want for their child. This means they need support to be informed and look after themselves. See here for more.
EarlyEd’s Friendship skills program is only one of the interventions offered by EarlyEd to support the skill development and for school aged children. You can view the range of options by clicking here.
It is not the only program we offer where children develop skills though play and interaction. That is because we all learn better when learning is meaningful.
It is however the ideal way to become a “Master” player of Lego®.