What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) all about?
Social and emotional learning is a continuous process of skill development – both through maturation and explicit instruction – beginning at birth and continuing throughout life. By commencing this learning early through the explicit teaching of selected skills, children have the opportunity to lay down healthy habits of emotional self-management and social engagement, which will impact on every area of their life, including increased academic achievement and greater awareness and understanding of relationships.
Why is Social and Emotional Wellbeing important?
KidsMatter states that SEL “achieves improved academic achievements, reduces emotional distress, improves behaviours and attitudes and results in fewer negative behaviours.”
Implementation of the Little Highway Heroes and Highway Heroes programmes helps to build an organisational culture of wellbeing. The practical application of the principles of Positive Psychology also assists with many aspects of governance – administrative, staff, students and caregivers.
Are your resources audited by anyone?
Yes, they are. Highway Heroes has been audited by KidsMatter and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) meeting their stringent criteria and guidelines. The excellent rating received – and a comparison with other SEL programs – can be seen here.
What is the theoretical base?
Highway Heroes is based on the following:
Positive Psychology: Helping children to flourish and function optimally in their peer relationships, by incrementally building key social and emotional skills that help them to deal positively with every day challenges. Fostering a positive and optimistic mindset about the capacity to achieve goals, deal with life events – challenging and otherwise – and achieve success and life satisfaction is fundamental.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Introduction to the connection between cognitions, mood and behaviour, illustrated through experiential exploration of common peer scenarios – seeking inclusion in games, being refused entry, responding to setbacks and disappointments, and dealing positively and assertively with criticism, teasing and bullying.
Social Learning Theory: The guiding structure of Highway Heroes is the use of experiential learning – role plays, direct instruction, observing and modelling – with one – or all – of these incorporated into each lesson. The scenarios explored and the skills coached, are common to children’s interactions worldwide.
Solution-focused approaches: Teaching children to look for a solution to a difficulty – and then to apply a range of skills, strategies and tools – assists them to develop a ‘can do’ attitude, together with the practical ‘know how’ of what to do. Finding and amplifying strengths through explicit teaching and group discussion, is an integral part of the HIGHWAY HEROES’ sessions/lessons.
How does Little Highway Heroes and Highway Heroes fit into the curriculum?
Social and emotional capability is crucial to school success. Without social and emotional skills children cannot learn as effectively and cannot make the most of their learning. For Early Childhood educators, Little Highway Heroes supports social and emotional skills that are at the heart of the Early Years Learning Framework: Being, Belonging and Becoming. For Primary Educators, Highway Heroes supports the development of General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum.
We have created a page that shows all the curriculum links. Visit our curriculum links page
Is Highway Heroes evidence based?
A combined 50 years’ of clinical experience has paved the way to the Highway Heroes curriculum. Many thousands of children since 1996 have experienced – and reported – on the positive outcomes of their social skills and resilience training, with Helen Davidson and Claire Orange. The skills, strategies and TOOLS in Highway Heroes have been successfully taught to children and parents with outstanding and clinically significant results over 20 years.
What is the Highway metaphor all about?
We are all travelling along The Highway of our lives. Everyone’s vehicle is different, and everyone’s journey is equally different. As we travel along The Highway, there are predictable events, such as early childhood education progressing to primary and high school education, social happenings, big life happenings and every day happenings. Along The Highway of our lives, travelling towards the destination of being happy and successful, we need to keep our fuel tanks full of Resilience – social resilience, emotional resilience and learning resilience. That’s how Highway Heroes roll!
Why are there three highways?
The three highways are the social, emotional and learning highways. As children travel along The Highway of Life they need to learn social and emotional self-regulation skills, and those that promote an active interest in learning. Highway Heroes assists this journey along the 3 Highways by developing self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and social management skills.
What age group are the kids’ books suitable for?
These books are appropriate for children aged 5 to 13 years. Younger children would benefit from some assistance with reading the material and understanding the content (although, it is written for children) and older children would be well able to read the material themselves. We know children who take these trusty companions to school every day as reference points for managing the every day ‘stuff’ that comes up in the playground and in the classroom.
How do I implement Highway Heroes?
Each learning environment is different and brings a different requirement. Perhaps bullying is occurring, or children struggle with resilience. Maybe there is a strong gender specific culture around friendship inclusions and exclusions. Factors such as these should be the primary determinant of which Module to implement initially.
Doesn’t Highway Heroes repeat itself?
Highway Heroes provides a spiral curriculum, as such, grows with the children’s experiences and expands on their knowledge and skill set whilst core concepts are rehearsed and consolidated.
In addition, Highway Heroes may be repeated annually. Repetition of concepts occurs in all subjects – because it enhances learning – so why not in SEL?
Highway Heroes is based on Social Learning Theory, which advocates that role plays and scenario-based activities help to embed skills and TOOLS into the ‘psychological muscle.’ Children are given the scenarios in the younger years, but personally create their own in the senior years. Each year a child’s social landscape changes, which means that Highway Heroes can grow with the child’s experiences. We know that each time a lesson is taught – even if for 2 consecutive weeks – a child will acquire new learning – as it is their experiences that drive the lessons.
Additionally, it is an ideal and effective way for teachers to become familiar with the concepts, and for children to use their current social realities to find strategies and solutions. Each time the Highway Heroes is taught, it extends social and emotional learning.
In what order do I teach the lessons?
Every Module includes one kick-off lesson that only needs to be taught once. It makes sense to repeat this lesson at the beginning of each school year to assist new students to understand the language basics. Lessons within the Module are sometimes single concept lessons, and at other times need to be taught in the sequence in which they appear. We recommend that within Modules, the lessons are taught in the order in which they appear, to assist the children to ‘stack’ the skills.
Can you help us get the Highway Heroes resources 'classroom ready'?
In Western Australia we have a school support service that can visit your school and prepare the resources for the amount of classrooms in your school. This is a personalised service that usually takes a day. You can ask us questions and we will guide you through the BEST process for your school to make things as easy as possible. Please see our school support flyer for more information .