At Genazzano, we run the program throughout Term 2 or 3, with the final session, which is the drama concert (the students love this opportunity to perform!) occurring at the beginning of the following term. If needed, we tweak sessions to spend extra time on pertinent concepts and condense other areas. For example, whole body listening has been able to be condensed into one session to enable more time on assertive communication. Each session runs for one hour and is facilitated by myself with the class teacher assisting and ensuring the concepts and language are used in the classroom outside of the program.
My experience has been that it provides girls with a safe place to share any problems they may be having, and to work on solutions together. The program also ensures prosocial skills are highlighted and celebrated.
Students absolutely love participating in the Friendship Saver Program and have referred to the program as both fun and helpful. I have had students positively refer back to the program many years after their participation. I too have loved facilitating the program – not only because of the benefits it brings each student and the Year 3 class as a whole, but also because it is so much fun! I bring in puppets to assist the girls with the Drama Triangle (a lion puppet, a mouse puppet and a dog puppet for the St Bernard). I also have ensured parents have an understanding of the program through an introductory letter, email updates every three weeks and this year (2016) parents were provided a brief presentation of the program.
I have found it essential to emphasis to students the importance of transferring the skills learned through the program to the ‘real world’ and each week we allow time for a class discussion of their ‘detective work’, which has a positive focus on how problems have been solved well and what prosocial behaviours have been observed recently. It can take time for students to feel comfortable enough to share their concerns and relationship strengths and weaknesses so it is important to provide time each session for class discussion and then it is up to the teacher and I to tailor our focus and ensure any problematic behaviours are reduced. It is a joy to see the girls learning and demonstrating real empathy for each other.
Information provided by Clare Panetta, School Counsellor, Genazzano FCJ College