The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the effectiveness of the Cool Kids social skills program. Fister, Conrad and Kemp (1998) created this program as a way to teach students basic and specific social skills that would enable them to succeed academically as well as socially.
Entering into a school social environment is a significant and foundational experience for children. Elementary age students must successfully transition from well-established, comfortable social interactions with caregivers to explicit and implicit social rules and interactions in a school environment. Being able to successfully make this transition with teachers and classmates is often key to a successful school experience (Dereli 2009).
Early behavior problems in children put them at risk for escalating academic problems such as grade retention and school dropout. Not only is a student’s behavior significantly related to grades, it has also been found that inadequate social skills can increase vulnerability to depression as well as social anxiety. Further, one of the more crucial findings was the correlation between poor social skills, aggression and violent behavior. Studies show that 10% of early school age children entering the educational system each year display prevalence for aggressive behavior problems; for socio-economically disadvantaged children it may be as high as 25% (January and Casey, 2011).
Studies points to the fact that a valuable and cost effect means of interrupting the progression of behavior problems in children is to intervene with social skills education when they are young and most impressionable (Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2004).While educators would like to focus on just academics, social-emotional growth seems to have as much, if not more, impact than cognitive development in determining success for students in school as well as their home environments (Fister et al., 1998). The general goal of social skills education programs is to provide children with pro-social solutions instead of ineffective antisocial coping as a way to enable them to deal with the difficulties they encounter (Dereli 2009).
Cool Kids Social Skills Program
One of the first places inadequate social skills are displayed is in the classroom (Samanci, 2008). In response to this, researchers Fister et al. (1998) developed a classroom social skills program called Cool Kids as a way of dealing with the increasingly large numbers of students who are lacking in these important skills. While there are many social skills programs to choose from, Cool Kids takes a more proactive approach to teaching these skills. Their philosophy is that social skill problems are a result of skill deficits as opposed to motivational problems (Fister et al., 1998). The program focuses on teaching automatic performance of a few essential skills that can be applied to many life situations, rather than teaching superficial coverage of many skills. It is expected that the social skills...