My name is Jill Mizokawa and I’m an Occupational Therapist. I am currently leading the middle school social skills group!
The current curriculum I use in group is loosely based on the Zones of Regulation, Executive Function tools, and Social Thinking for Tweens and Teens. However, I have tailored these three programs to focus primarily on self-regulation, self-monitoring (feelings and emotions), and perspective taking. We then use the information we gain from self-monitoring to modify the way we interact with others. The group does many activities around providing self-affirmations to build confidence, as well as providing affirmations to others in the group to foster camaraderie and utilize learned social skills. We are also focusing on the different levels of relationships (innermost circle to outer circle) and how this changes the ways in which we interact with people, the types of conversations we have, and the ways we conduct ourselves/filter the information we choose to share.
The structure of group is variable by week and by the group members but we typically engage in activities as a whole group at a large conference table. We focus on one topic per session and spend a lot of time discussing challenges they’re facing at school or with relationships. My ultimate goals are to create a safe space for these middle schoolers to share their concerns and anxieties, to hear from peers how they are dealing with similar issues, and to figure out (as a group) the best ways to tackle challenging topics (like bullying). I would also love for some of the kids to find friends within the group who have similar interests!
We do occasional outings to nearby restaurants and parks, depending on the dynamic of the group. We occasionally incorporate sessions where the middle schoolers run activities for the early elementary social skills group; it’s a great way for them to practice our discussion topics in a real way!
I like to debrief with families for about 10 minutes after sessions to discuss questions, concerns, and progress. I’m open to all feedback and have developed the current curriculum through feedback by parents; I hope to continue with this in the future!
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the group or if this is a good fit for your child, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jill Mizokawa OTR/L