The TALK Program - An enrichment program to enhance resilience in primary school children
Sunday, 19 December 2010
A problem had been identified initially in a local low socioeconomic primary school populated by many disadvantaged families. As children in this location are less resilient, they are likely to have overall poorer social skills and a lower sense of belonging. The staff believed that many of the inappropriate externalising and acting out behaviour demonstrated by the children in the classrooms and the school yard was also attributable to the inability of these children to express themselves fully and adequately. The underlying frame of the program include (1) children need a safe environment where they will have the opportunity to express their ideas without fear of prejudice (2) provide the opportunity for modelling appropriate communication patterns between adults and children and amongst the children themselves (3) enhance the self-esteem, coping strategies and problem solving skills of the children through creating a climate of trust and caring between young people and adults (4) provide an opportunity to increase the sense of belonging of the children by involving the school and the community and have the opportunity to develop new friendships. Against this background, the TALK program was undertaken. This involved cooperation between the school and the local university. The program ran for 5 years with the same group of children. Children were tested twice each year using measures such as Sense of Belonging, Self esteem and Resilience. The paper will present an overview of the program implementation, key findings from pre and post-program evaluations of the school children's behaviours as well as insights into the success of the program from the staff and students involved.