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    Enhancing Social and Emotional Learning Through Social Skills Groups: A Primary School Perspective


    Dillon, Grace (2021) Enhancing Social and Emotional Learning Through Social Skills Groups: A Primary School Perspective. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    Mental health issues among children have been on the rise over the past few years, however, the pandemic has accelerated this issue. The Irish Medical Journal (2021) presented figures obtained from the three public Paediatric Emergency Departments in the greater Dublin region. The stark figures highlight mental health presentations by children aged five to fifteen increased by 52.4% during July and August last year, 2020, compared to the corresponding period for 2019. However, statistics also show that we have inadequate services deal with such numbers. As of July 2021, the Freedom of Information Act (2014) obtained figures from The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which highlighted that 2,559 children were currently awaiting an appointment in their services. 251 children had been waiting for more than 12 months. This particular statistic struck me as earlier in 2021 I was seeking help for a child in my class, however I was advised by another professional that only severe cases where children were harming themselves were being cared for at the moment. It is not the under-resources services at fault. It is our lack of resources as a nation to help, that leads to a need for a serious review of our systems. With a particular focus on the social and emotional development of the children in my class, using a self-study approach within an action research framework, I reflected on my practice with an aim to live closer to my values in the classroom. I aimed to improve the social and emotional learning in my classroom. As an intervention, I set up child-led social skills groups. These are groups carried out in a small group setting over six weeks. Through collaboration with the children I began to see my values of voice, care and respect being realised. The self-study action research process has enhanced my awareness and understanding of the social emotional experience of some of the children in my care and improved my personal and professional development. The research findings have also highlighted that the children feel more valued, heard and seen within the class now. In this study the children acted as co-researchers, making this a collaborative study. The research study was interrupted due to school closures from January to March imposed by Covid-19. However, as a contingency plan, we took the groups online and cycle one was completed through an online platform. The intervention of social skills groups facilitated the enhancement of social and emotional learning in my classroom. It also emphasised the importance of child voice, autonomy and agency within their learning. This intervention allowed the children to take ownership over their own learning through identifying their own needs. Thematic Analysis revealed prior assumptions which I had when choosing which children to be part of the groups, it highlighted the importance of child voice within their learning along with the need for autonomy and agency for the children in their learning experiences. These findings enlightened me towards new ways of thinking and planning. It led to a transformation in my teaching, guiding me towards a pedagogy of valuing child voice, agency and autonomy throughout my lessons. It also led to a transformation in my thinking about my assumptions while choosing participants for a social skills group. I hope that this study had made a difference to a child somewhere in my care and across the wider school community.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Social and Emotional Learning; Social Skills Groups; Primary School Perspective; Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 15146
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2021 11:41
    URI:

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