Social Development

Social Development at Villa

For children with learning disabilities, social skills can often be a challenge as well. How to start a conversation. The importance of looking someone in the eye. How to stay on topic. An appropriate response to a conversation or request.

At Villa Maria, our social development curriculum encourages more productive and positive interactions with others – through a comprehensive character education program as well as opportunities to practice and learn social-emotional skills. Whether a school-wide character theme, a small-group discussion about appropriate behavior, or one of countless teachable moments throughout the school day, our students are learning respect, cooperation and positive social engagement each and every day.

To insure that the emotional needs of students are met, Villa Maria employs a full time social worker, and every student receives social skills classes. The social development curriculum supports and encourages more productive and positive interactions with others. It has two components, character education and development of social-emotional skills.

As part of a planned and comprehensive approach for teaching and integrating core ethical values into the life of the school, each year a school-wide theme, such as Unity in Diversity or Help Everyone Respect Others, is selected. The theme incorporates key elements of our character education program. Each month the entire school focuses on a particular virtue, such as respect, responsibility or cooperation, that is related to the overall theme. This year Villa Maria is integrating the FISH philosophy into the curriculum to inspire students to develop more positive attitudes and to have fun in their work, at school and at home every day of the week.

Villa Maria provides a structured environment that allows the opportunity to practice and learn social-emotional skills. Students in kindergarten through ninth grade meet weekly in a group setting to learn targeted behaviors or skills that are reinforced throughout the school day. The skill selected will vary by the age and needs of each group. Students learn to express feelings in a safe and acceptable manner, and demonstrate positive interpersonal communication skills, to increase social and emotional competence, and to strengthen problem solving and conflict resolution strategies.

Our students learn best through active involvement and engagement with materials and people in their environment. Each skill or behavior is discussed, modeled, practiced and role-played, then monitored with feedback provided during the school day. Students are prompted and coached in different settings and circumstances to increase the likelihood of generalization of the skill or behavior beyond the classroom.

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“The culture at Villa Maria School is one of mutual respect and understanding. The teachers and staff integrate lessons of compassion and kindness into the lessons, and the social-emotional classes further enhance our son’s developing confidence and self-esteem.”

Mother of a 3rd grader.

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