As we continue 11-day journey through the “non-academic/learning to learn” skills all children need, detailing the skill of expanding cool topics, I just want to remind you that these shouldn’t be complicated. Don’t get overwhelmed, just do what you can. And – if you have questions, make sure to reach out! I’m ready and available to support you during this unexpected break from school!
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Skill #6: Expanding Cool Topics
One of my favorite skills to work on is expanding “cool” topics. When it comes to being successful socially, one of the most important factors is actually having something to talk about. The example I like to give is this; if I went to a party and everyone at the party was a neurosurgeon and they were all talking about neurosurgeon topics, even if I had great social skills, it would be really hard for me to be successful socially because I just wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Some kids often have this same experience when they interact with peers in a social setting.
Oftentimes, when kids’ interests are not what other kids are interested in or when they have very limited interests, every social interaction is like the neurosurgeon party for them. There is no better time or place to work on these skills than at home! People often dismiss this skill as not important or think that their child should only have to be interested in what they are interested in. This is one way to look at it but another way to look at it is that teaching this skill is a gift to them. By helping them expand their interests, you help expand their world!
Hint for Teachers: Share with parents what some “cool” topics are that other kids in your class are interested in so they know where to start!
Topics You Can Use to Expand Your Child’s Interests
- Famous Athletes
- Musical Artists
- TV Shows
- Video Games
- Outside Activities (skateboarding, bike riding, going to the beach/pool/lake)
- Youtube stars
- Tic Tock videos
- Books (popular)
- Comic books
How to Practice Expanding Cool Topics
- Pick a topic of the week- you can pick one, have your child pick one or make it a family activity
- Do some research; either together or as an assignment, find as many facts about that topic as they can.
- Have your child share the facts they learn and keep it as a reference. (I like to write the facts down and keep it to refer back to.
- Spend the rest of the week doing fun activities around the topic. The more you can vary these activities the better. So for example if your topic that week is athletes, watch videos of them playing, watch interviews, have your child share the information with family members, have everyone in the family find one fact about the athlete and share at a meal, etc)
- Even after you move on to a new “cool” topic, keep coming back to the others so that they stay comfortable talking about it.
- If they find a topic they want to spend more time on, that’s awesome! But keep adding to that. Remember- the goal is to give them a full toolbox full of topics they can pull from when in a social situation!
Remember: There are so many ways to be interested in a topic. For example, your child may say they don’t like sports because they don’t like to PLAY sports, but there are so many other aspects of sports they can learn about. (ex: statistics of players, information about different stadiums, history of sports)
Reinforce the Skill of Expanding Cool Topics
Setting up a simple reinforcement around this particular skill can be very simple.
Step 1: Define the behavior clearly. Make sure your child knows exactly what is expected of them around this topic
Step 2: Decide when you want to work on the skill. There is no right amount. Ultimately, your goal should be to make this time doable for you and your child. (you can do it one time a day or more. Whatever works for your family!
Step 3: Decide what kind of reinforcement you want to use and how often they receive it. For example;
- Set a time you want your child to research or interact in some way with the new topic
- Use a timer if that visual will help
- When your child spends the determined time on the topic they receive the reinforcement
Step 4: Discuss what the plan is with your child and then stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to reinforcing behavior!
I can contribute, be valuable, and grow in many ways, since my interests are varied. That is very satisfying- Liya Kebede
Find More Resources
No matter what your goals are for this time, make sure to check out the other resources I offer for parents and teachers. Then, come back tomorrow and let’s talk about the next skill all children need to know!