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Children’s Resilience Programs July 30, 2011

The Second World Congress on Positive Psychology took place in Philadelphia last weekend. I didn’t attend it, but I learned  about some interesting educational projects around the world from the Final Program:

Children’s Resilience Program in India

Steve Leventhal from University of California, Global Health Sciences, San Francisco, CA, United States:

We present findings from CorStone’s ‘Children‘s Resiliency Program (CRP)’ in New Delhi, Mumbai and Surat, India.

CRP is a 24-week, school-based prevention program that incorporates elements of positive psychology, restorative practices, and social-emotional learning skills for at-risk adolescent youth in developing countries. The CRP seeks to provide youth with knowledge and tools that build character strengths, inter-personal skills, problem-solving and conflict resolution. In 2009 the CRP was piloted with 97 female students, ages 12-18 at a school in a poverty-stricken Muslim community in New Delhi. Teachers were trained to facilitate weekly one-hour support groups (10 students per group). Group sessions included an interactive 20 minute lesson plan followed by 40 minutes of group sharing and problem-solving. Emotional resilience was assessed by levels of optimism, locus of control, and emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Standardized assessments administered at baseline, midpoint and post intervention, showed large emotional and behavioral effects. ‘Normal’ scores on the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) increased from 33% at baseline to 61% at mid-intervention (12 weeks), whereas the percentage of students having an abnormal score decreased from 45% to 6%. Significant decreases in pessimism and external locus of control were found in post-intervention scores. Attendance increased markedly on days when the program was offered. 99% of students reported that the topics were relevant to their lives and that the program provided valuable learning experiences.

An intervention for 1,000 adolescent girl students in slum communities in Mumbai and Gujarat is currently underway, using a quasi-experimental design with 500 girls receiving the intervention and 500 girls serving as a control group.

School Based Relationship Programs: A Foundation for Building Resilience

Jonathan Toussaint, Karen Morris from Interrelate Family Centres, Sydney, Australia

The Australian Government’s initiative and focus on Respectful Relationships has informed the development of Kids Connexions, a program for children encouraging them to build healthy relationships. Th e program covers the importance of: maintaining a sense of self; respecting differences in others; normalizing respectful ways of relating to others; empowering children to make healthy choices about relationships; and highlighting effective ways to connect with peers.

Kids Connexions has been evaluated with outstanding results. The philosophy of Interrelate is to build resilience in the life of a child. With over 84 years experience in cutting edge school based program development and delivery, Interrelate continues to inform children as they first begin to establish conscious relationships in primary school. This interactive workshop provides participants with an overview of the program, useful tools to engage with children, and techniques to encourage active participation in the classroom. Strategies to promote and increase the involvement of schools will also be addressed.

Children’s Character Strengths and the Transition from Kindergarten to First Grade

Anat Shoshani from Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Psychology, Herzliya, Israel

The transition from kindergarten to first grade is one of the major challenges children face during early childhood, and children´s character strengths can be crucial for effectively adjusting to this transition. In this talk, I will present findings from a pioneering study attempting to integrate the body of knowledge accumulated in the strengths and virtues field with the school adjustment literature. Specifically, parents of 108 first-grade Israeli children rated their child’s character strengths using a Hebrew version of the 24-items Values in Action (VIA) scale and reported on their child´s cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social engagement in school.

Findings provided extensive support to the hypothesis that children´s character strengths positively contribute to school adjustment. Curiosity and self regulation were the most important predictors of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral adjustment to school. Implications for early childhood practices and strengths-based skills relevant to school adjustment will be discussed.

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