A school-based wellbeing programme to promote social functioning in middle childhood
This study was done from a positive psychology perspective and was based on Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological systems theory as well as Erikson’s psychosocial theory. Educators’ experiences of the social functioning of learners in middle childhood as well as the skills and competencies these learners need, were explored. This was done by conducting focus groups with 29 educators of 10- to 12-year-old learners (in grades five and six) from four schools that each represent one section into which schools of a selected area in the North-West Province of South Africa are divided. The results indicated that context and culture are important in learners’ social functioning, that learners in middle childhood display both appropriate and inappropriate behaviour during their interactions, and that the intentional development and strengthening of certain social skills and competencies are needed. A school-based wellbeing programme called the Social Treasures Programme (STP) was developed by taking the abovementioned needed skills and competencies as well as literature reviews on social skills programmes into consideration. The STP includes sessions on self-esteem and gratitude, self-regulation and goal setting, values and relationships, communication and listening skills, conflict management, emotional competence, and resilient coping. As a school-based wellbeing programme in itself does not change learners’ social functioning, the STP was implemented and evaluated at one school from the abovementioned area in the North-West Province to determine its effectiveness. A repeated measures design was used for this, and learners, educators and, parents or legal guardians completed psychometric scales at various time-intervals. The psychometric scales that were completed by the learners included the Social Anxiety Scale for Children–Revised (La Greca, 1998; La Greca & Stone, 1993), the School Short-Form Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory–Revised (Coopersmith, 1967; Hills, Francis, & Jennings, 2011), the Children’s Self-Report Social Skills Scale (Danielson & Phelps, 2003), the Children’s Depression Inventory Short Form (Kovacs, 2011), and the Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & A SCHOOL-BASED WELLBEING PROGRAMME TO PROMOTE SOCIAL FUNCTIONING Lepper, 1999); while the Teacher-Child Rating Scale 2.1 (Children’s Institute, 2002) was completed by the educators, and the Child Social Preference Scale (Coplan, Prakash, O’Neil, & Armer, 2004) by the parents. Initially, 221 learners from the abovementioned four schools participated in pre-testing, as the reliability and validity of the abovementioned five scales for the learners had to be determined for the South African context (and a large number of participants are needed for this). Sixty-six learners from one school were chosen for the experimental and control groups (with 45 learners in the experimental group and 21 in the control group) and participated in the evaluation of the STP (which consisted of attendance of the STP by the experimental group, post-testing directly after the presentation of the STP to the experimental group, and follow-up testing three months later). Thirteen educators and 66 parents or legal guardians completed the psychometric scales for the particular group into wich they fall, before the presentation of the STP to the experimental group and also three months after the presentation of the STP to the experimental group. The STP had a positive effect. According to the psychometric scales completed by the learners over time, their social anxiety decreased while their social skills (including adherence to social rules and politeness) and self-esteem increased. Furthermore, according to the psychometric scale completed by the educators over time, the STP increased the learners’ assertiveness and peer social skills. The psychometric scales completed by the parents or legal guardians indicated that no differences occurred as a result of the STP.
- Health Sciences