Social and Emotional Skills Programmes

Social and Emotional Skills Programmes

I have taught for 10 years in a school which has a very high number of children with social skills and emotional difficulties. Explicit teaching of social skills and self-regulation skills is crucial for these children as they generally do not just “pick up” these skills through observation and interactions with others. The following are some of the best programmes that I have used over the years as a mainstream class teacher, support teacher, and autism class teacher.

Name of Resource

Main Focus

Suitable for

My experience

Available from

Stop, think do: Social Skills Training

Social skills and self-regulation

Ages 4-8, 8-12, or 12-15

Works with the whole class or a small group of pupils

I used the Ealy Years programme when teaching Infants. It is a very good programme, but requires commitment from the teacher as there is a lot of content in it.

It can be difficult to fit in to an already overcrowded SPHE programme where Stay Safe, Walk Tall, and RSE need to be covered, but for a class where challenging behaviour is widespread, it would be worth implementing. If the difficulties pertain to only a few pupils, then it would be best covered with the SET with just these pupils.

Outside the Box Learning Resources

TalkAbout Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem

Developing self-awareness and self-esteem

Most infants would find it difficult. I have used it successfully from 1st class upwards.

Best used with a small group of pupils.

This is an excellent programme for use by a SET teacher or in a special class setting with verbal pupils. Developing self-awareness is a prerequisite to developing social skills, so I would always cover this programme with children before beginning work on a social skills programme.

The programme takes 40 sessions to complete. For a group that works with the Special Education Teacher every day, I would advise completing this programme in Term 1, then beginning work on one of the TalkAbout Social Skills Programmes in term 2. or

TalkAbout Developing Social Skills

Developing social skills

Most suitable from 1st-4th class.

Best used with a small group of pupils.

This is an excellent programme to follow on from the TalkAbout developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem programme above.

It is most suitable for a small group of pupils with the SET teacher or in a special class setting with verbal pupils. The programme takes 60 sessions to complete. For a group that works with the Special Education Teacher every day, I would advise completing the Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem programme in Term 1, then completing this programme in terms 2 and 3. or

TalkAbout Developing Friendship Skills

Developing friendship skills

Activities could be used with a whole class or with a small group of pupils

This book contains 25 games and activities to develop friendship skills.

It would be a good follow on after completing the more structured TalkAbout Self-Awareness and Self Esteem, and TalkAbout Social Skills Programmes above. or

TalkAbout for Teenagers

Developing social and relationship skills

Best used with a small group of pupils from 5th/6th class and upwards

The TalkAbout Developing Social Skills Programme can be a bit too childish for pupils in the senior end of Primary school, in which case, Talk About for Teenagers is a more appropriate option. It covers self-awareness and self-esteem, body language, conversational skills, friendship skills, and assertiveness, and so is a great choice for pupils in the senior end of primary school who need to work on their social skills. or

Dealing with Feeling

Emotional regulation

Small group or 1 to 1.

Ages 7-14+

The programme is recommended for ages 7-14+, but I find some of the stories need to be modified to be made more age appropriate if using for ages 10 and under.

There is a lot in the programme and it comes with 40 lessons and 236 activity pages, so it would take the whole academic year to complete with a pupil. I would recommend completing the TalkAbout programmes first, before beginning this programme when a child is in 4th class upwards.

The Zones of Regulation

Emotional regulation

Most effective in a small group or can be modified to use 1 to 1. Ideal for an autism class setting. I have used from 1st class up very successfully.

The programme consists of 18 lessons which could be covered over Term 1. The programme doesn’t end when the 18 lessons are completed however. The Zones is a whole framework for helping students learn to regulate their emotions and for it to be successful, the children need ongoing support in recognising how they are feeling and choosing appropriate tools to help them regulate.

It takes commitment and effort from the teachers and SNAs working with the pupils who all need to be on the same page when completing the Zones, but it is an excellent programme which I have found very effective.

Outside the Box Learning Resources or

Friendship Terrace

Developing friendship skills

Most suitable for Infants – 2nd class. The programme website says ages 4-12 years, but I would feel 3rd class onwards would find it too childish.

Works great for a whole class or small group.

This is a short programme which takes 10 sessions to complete. In each session we hear the story of a different character who lives on “Friendship Terrace”. Each character has a social skill they need to work on e.g. coping with winning and losing, and the story is followed by questions to ask the children.

The children I have used this with have all loved it, and I was asked to read the stories again and again. It is particularly helpful to have a display in the classroom with a picture of each of the characters and to refer to it as needed throughout the year. For instance, if a child is being rough on yard, you can re-read and talk about the story of “Rough Ryan”.

The Incredible 5 Point Scale

Emotional regulation, social skills, developing appropriate behaviour

Works with any age and in a whole class, group, or 1 to 1 setting

The Incredible 5 Point Scale is one of the resources that I have used the most, and with the most success, in teaching social skills and appropriate behaviour.

It is particularly suitable for autistic children due to its colour coded and visual nature.

This isn’t a programme to follow with set lesson plans, rather it is a method of teaching social skills or behaviours that the teacher identifies as being most appropriate. For older pupils who engage in challenging behaviour or who step over social boundaries to the point where they get into trouble, there is an excellent follow-on book called “A 5 is Against the Law!”.

Time to Talk

Communication and social interactions


Works with a whole class or small group.

This is a programme which is appropriate for Junior or Senior Infant pupils. It includes 40 sessions which should take place 2-3 times per week.

Socially Speaking

Social skills

 Small group setting

Infants – 2nd class

The first section focuses on developing communication skills, including listening skills. It then moves to developing friendship skills in the second part and practicing these skills in the final part.

There is also a board game that you can buy to complement the programme. I have used this too and the children enjoy it. or

Social Skills Training by Jed Baker

Social skills

Small group or 1 to 1

Most appropriate for 4th class and up

This programme covers 70 of the skills which most cause difficulty for autistic people e.g. eye contact, conversation skills, saying no to peer pressure etc.

Outside the Box Learning Resources

The Watson Institute

Social skills, emotional regulation, appropriate behaviour

Small group or 1 to 1 as needed.

Each resource is targeted at a specific issue rather than at an age group. Check the suitability of individual resources.

The Watson Institute has a huge bank of free downloadable social stories and lesson plans for teaching social skills to children with autism. They are generally excellent and I have used them extensively over the years.

There isn’t a set programme to follow. You just choose the lessons and social stories that fit best with difficulties that your pupil is encountering.

All of the social stories are editable so you can put in photographs and names relevant to your pupils.

Many of the lessons come with PowerPoint presentations and worksheets which are very useful.

The Watson Institute

I hope you will find the above information useful if you are planning for teaching social skills and are unsure where to start. If you would like me to cover any other topics in my blog, please leave a comment below!

2 thoughts on “Social and Emotional Skills Programmes

    • Teaching Plans says:

      Hi Josephien,

      Thanks for your comment. I am a primary school teacher so I don’t have any resources for Post Primary. You could look into the Talk About for Teenagers mentioned in the post.

      Kind regards,


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