Connect Us is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop skills in young children necessary to becoming socially competent, self-confident, and resilient individuals through physical, creative, and collaborative play in a guided learning environment.
Using the Social Competence Inclusive Play (SCIP) model, Connect Us:
- Builds social competence in children who are susceptible to being bullied or becoming bullies
- Improves elementary school recess environments
- Provides programs that advance community education and awareness of early interventions
Connect Us envisions a world where all children embrace diversity and social stigmas do not exist. Despite differences and abilities, all children learn from each other and can flourish in nonjudgmental, inclusive environments.
- Social and emotional problems are prevented when social skill development is a priority early in childhood
- All children desire friendships and want to be included
- Facilitating the development of social skills is most effective during ‘real time’ play situations
- Bullies may always exist, but they’ll have no power when we instill skills, values and expectations early in childhood to overcome bystander mentality
- The Golden Rule should be a critical component of early education
- During recess, students should have access to adults and mentors who assist with conflict resolution and inclusion
- Bystander mentality and indifference is perpetuated early in life when kids are ignored or reprimanded for ‘tattling’
- Children susceptible to bullying or becoming bullies are best served when schools, parents and the community collaborate to address the issues
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