Evidence-based research indicates that peer socialization and play experiences compose vital parts of children’s learning and development.* Playing with peers allows children to acquire social skills – an essential part of childhood. Peer play cannot be duplicated by adults. Through play, rather than formal learning, children learn to communicate effectively with peers, negotiate, compromise, resolve conflicts and understand the feelings and perspectives of others.
Facilitated play offers a system of support for those children who may be excluded from group activities or who choose to isolate themselves. A trained adult guides children in play experiences that foster social interaction, communication, adaptability and respect for others. Each child is encouraged to feel safe expressing him/herself, while the peer group is taught to be responsive, accepting and inclusive. Facilitated, collaborative play in early childhood prevents future isolation and bullying. Children learn to respect each others’ differences, overcome the “bystander” mentality and defend themselves and others against teasing, aggression and other bullying behaviors. In addition, studies have found that academic performance improves when children feel socially accepted and able to develop meaningful relationships with their peers.*
Connect Us gives children tools that increase social skills and self-esteem and help them become more socially and emotionally regulated. We measure social attributes and skills at the beginning and end of each program using the Parent Questionnaire Intake (PQI), Parent Post-Program Assessment (PPA) and the Children’s Social Competence Scale (CSCS). After one eight-week Connect Us session, parents’ PPA responses indicate positive results:
- 91% reported that their children had increased confidence with peers
- 89% reported that their children had developed a more positive attitude
- 82% reported that their children had improved their ability to deal with frustration by using words and calming techniques
- 74% of children developed at least one new friendship
- 71% of parents reported that their children were more cooperative at home
*Source: Thompson, Thom. “People Make the Difference in School Playground Safety.” Executive Educator 13.8 (1991): 28-29.