Experiences of Children Day Care Centre Specialists Developing Children’s Social Skills
It is highly important to start developing children’s social skills since early childhood, when children are most susceptible to all experiences. Support rendered by CDCC specialists seeking to develop social skills is undoubtedly significant for children that grow in families at social risk, as their parents lack social skills themselves. The focus of the research is experiences of CDCC specialists in developing children’s social skills. The purpose of the study is to reveal, as well as theoretically and empirically validate experiences of social workers and social pedagogues to develop social skills in CDCC. The study question: How successful are CDCC specialists in developing social skills of children attending day care centres? Qualitative research type was chosen for the study. In the study, the method of a semi structured interview, which enables to come close to the understanding of human experiences, designation of meanings, the definition of meanings and the construction (explanation) of reality, was used. The obtained data were analyzed by the content analysis method. Qualitative content analysis was carried out in accordance with the inductive, study data based and categories composed logic. According to J. W. Creswell (2009), content analysis is a technique which, having examined the specificities of the text, allows, objectively and systematically, draw reliable conclusions. The qualitative content analysis was performed regarding the following sequence (Creswell, 2009): repeated reading of the content of transcript interview texts, distinction of meaning elements in the text analysed, grouping of the distinguished meaning elements into categories and sub-categories, integration of the categories/sub-categories into the context of the phenomenon analysed and description of their analysis. Criteria-based sample was used in the study. The informants were chosen according to the following criteria: 1) a social worker or social pedagogue with higher education, 2) working experience of not less than 2 years. The study was conducted in October-December 2016. The place and time of the interview were arranged in advanced with the research participants. The informants’ agreement was obtained regarding the participation in the study and recording of the interview. Having taken the interviews, their transcripts were made. 9 informants participated in the research (5 social pedagogues and 4 social workers). The research was based on non-random criterion-based sampling. The principle of ethics were observed: the informants were introduced with the research aim and methods of data collection. The informants expressed their free will to participate in the research; the anonymity and confidentiality were assured.
The analysis of qualitative research results revealed that the diversity and significance of CDCC organised activities in developing children’s social skills served the purpose especially for the ones that came from social risk families, in which the children often experienced social psychological crisis, solved different problems on their own, whereas their parents often lacked social skills themselves. The research results highlighted that the activities selected for children’s free time aimed at accomplishing the selected duties, purposefully modeling their behaviour and completing creative tasks created favourable consitions for the development of children’s social skills. The research participants noted the following important social skills of children that they had acquired in CDCC activities: an ability to communicate and cooperate, creativity, leadership, decision making, attaining their goals, positive attitude and support to others, empathy, team work, problem solving, an ability to ask for help, personal hygiene, recognition of own and others’ needs, an ability to distinguish own and others’ strengths and weaknesses, an ability to listen to others, critical thinking, self-confidence, responsibility, willpower, development and observance of rules, an ability to distinguish feelings from actions, distinction of duties and rights, positive and creative thinking, as well as stress and anger management. The research demonstrated that the activities of smart education purposefully selected by CDCC specialists proved efficient in developing children’s social skills, as well as CDCC activity was organised in the positive direction to strengthen children’s social skills. The diversity of the developed social skills and selected activities showed that the strengthening of children’s social skills largely depended on the specialists’ attitude, competence to select activities, as well as an ability to employ different life situations seeking to promote the development of various social skills. A skill should not only be developed, but it should be regularly applied in everyday life. Unfortunately, the families whose children attend CDCC are not always capable to help their children consolidate the acquired social skills; hence, it is relevant to search for the ways of rendering support to both children and parents.
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