Development of Social Skills through Physical Education with a Complex Needs Child Population

By Mark L. Fraser and Brenda L. Robinson.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Meeting the heterogeneous developmental and complex needs of the children in foster care present many challenges for the child welfare system. High rates of mental health, cognitive deficits, behavioral regulation, and socio-emotional issues within this population may limit the number of learning opportunities they receive, possibly exacerbating existing academic and social deficits. What is more, the complex developmental characteristics of certain children may interfere with evidence-based treatments’ effectiveness in targeting particular childhood mental disorders, or, may even preclude them from being considered for particular evidence-based treatments due to the treatment’s exclusion criteria. Rooted in the principles of physical education, the ECHO Social Skills Program was created to provide academic, social, and, behavioral and emotional management learning opportunities for complex needs foster children. The approach weaves evidence-based social skills programming with Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning domains, and is delivered within a physical education framework to optimize participant’s motivation, participation, learning, and success in developing newly acquired social skills. The program is thought to optimize children’s uptake of the program information by offering psychomotor, cognitive and affective components within every session, perhaps ensuring that each session taps into the individual learning strengths of every participant. A discussion regarding the description of the program’s therapeutic model and a review of some of the preliminary findings are included.

Keywords: Physical Education, Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, Children in Care, ECHO Program, Social Skills, Complex Needs

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.113-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.749KB).

Mark L. Fraser

PhD Student, Laurentian University, The Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

The author holds a Master’s in Applied Psychology and is currently completing his PhD in Human Studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. His current research focuses on the effects of maltreatment on the developmental trajectory of executive functions from childhood through adolescence. His other research interests are examining the effects of maltreatment on children and youth’s neuropsychological and developmental outcomes (including health, behavioral, educational, social and emotional dimensions) and group interventions with maltreated children. The author also possesses 12 years working with complex needs child population within the children’s mental health and child welfare sectors.

Brenda L. Robinson

Supervisor, Access Assessment and Planning Team, The Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin, Canada

The author has over 32 years’ experience in Child and Welfare services. In her current role, she leads a team of 12 professionals providing Clinically Managed Supervised Access and Supervised Access services for The Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury & Manitoulin. She also manages recruits and trains a Volunteer pool of 45 to 50 dedicated people. While filling various roles, from Front Line worker to Supervisor, a number of program and research initiatives have been developed and implemented on the following topics; Family Preservation, Clinically Managed Access, Aboriginal Children’s Cultural program, Homework Club, Communities That Care and ECHO program. Brenda is trained in Family Mediation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; she is a trainer for “Out and Proud” with the OACAS and is a registered social worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers.