Teaching social competence
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Increasing children's social interactions among peers can be accomplished with the use of intervention. The purpose of this thesis was to find out if social competence is a skill that can be taught to preschool-aged children. The hypothesis stated that the use of a PALS Center in a preschool classroom would promote peer interaction among the children. In order to track the proposed improvement of peer relationships, one child's development within and outside of a PALS Center was tracked. Due to time constraints the thesis was not able to be setup as a true PALS Center, though the same concepts were used. The intervention strategy used, a PALS Center, is an area setup in a classroom to promote positive peer interaction. Toys and materials in the PALS Center are limited in number and limited to activities that will support children's cooperative play skills. Adult's roles are to prompt and reinforce social skills when necessary. The type of documentation is on file as thesis materials in the form of film production. A checklist for preschool social relationships called, High/Scope Child Observation Record for Ages 2.5-6, was used to record the subject's progress. Running records for observations and reactions to the interventions are on file as thesis material in the form of written documents. I found that the subject did learn to socially engage with one particular peer in the PALS Center. The subject did not generalize the skills learned in the PALS Center from child to child when interacting in the PALS Center. However, the subject did increase his peer interaction outside of the PALS Center by 42 percent. It is important to professionals working with children to know and understand that children's social competence can be increased by the use of an intervention strategy.