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San Diego Public Schools approve Club Xcite’s Social Skills and Executive Functioning Programs!

POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Breakthrough for Public Schools! Club Xcite has become the first educational provider to offer Social Skills and Executive Functioning programs as part of Enrichment School Year and Summer Programming!

San Diego, CA – April 14, 2015— After three decades of research, an analysis of 213 programs found that social and emotional learning programs and interventions increase student performance, reduce aggression and emotional distress, increase helping behaviors in school, and improve positive attitudes towards self and others (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor & Schellinger, 2011).

Club Xcite, a private tutoring and coaching organization, receives between 8-10 referrals per day for children ages 6 -17 that are having difficulties with skills such as impulse control, frustration tolerance, organization, goal planning, memory recall, body language, empathy, communication, problem solving, boundaries, and low self esteem. It can often feel very frustrating and helpless for parents to continually hear from a range of professionals about what “deficits” and “struggles” their child is experiencing. Program Director, Angela Bianco, shares her favorite approach in speaking with parents about their services “By interrupting a parent who is running down a list of negatives about their child, and by simply asking: “what strengths does your child have? Who are they? What’s going right?” You notice a change in voice, body language, and can see the empathy that is crucial to the process. We work with a lot of caring and involved parents who are running around to therapist appointments, recreational activities, family events and all the other social pieces; and we let them know it’s going to be okay by removing any label they’ve identified with for their child. We don’t see ADHD, stress, anxiety, bipolar, depression. We see children who are not coping with what they are being asked of, who may not have the skills to handle certain situations; and they are communicating this by their behavior”. Therapists and school psychologists are referring to Club Xcite because of their “whole child approach”, which means they are not going to just address a particular behavior or learning deficit.

The exciting news is that Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and San Diego Unified School Districts have approved Club Xcite to offer Social Skills and Executive Functioning as part of their after school enrichment offerings during the school year; including summer camps. Jocelyn Burke, Enrichment Program Manager, who also teaches these classes herself and has put together the curriculum for each session shares that “self-regulation is connected to academic achievement and it’s a great leap we’ve taken to be able to offer a space for student’s to learn and practice these skills. The classes I’ve been running have been showing that that students self esteem and confidence have increased and in turn will result and leak into other areas of their academic lives”.

Dr. Erika Wollerman, Clinical Psychologist, shares “many of the children that I work with struggle with their behavior, academics, and socialization due to skills deficits (executive functions, emotional regulation, social, etc) and I believe that it is essential for children to be seen through a more compassionate and understanding lens. Club Xcite’s approach is directly in line with this as they view the children with their strengths and challenges and build skills in a variety of ways. It is very exciting that public schools are welcoming and embracing these programs into their routines!”

Angela Bianco, Program Director of Club Xcite, shares that “all of the reasons these children are being referred to our services could be addressed within the school setting. These children are spending the majority of their time at school, so aiding in making those bridges for parents and student’s is crucial. If a child is constantly being told to “pay attention” or “calm down”, chances are they are hearing these phrases at school and at home. We teach student’s what these actions look like, which ways they prefer to do it, and practice, practice, practice! Everything is connected”.

One phrase that you will hear throughout the Club Xcite office and in their trainings for Social and Executive Functioning Coaching is “Kids do well if they can”. This strengths based idea philosophy comes from child psychologist, Dr. Greene, who shares “children use the skills they possess, and when a situation asks them to use more skills than they possess, they compensate through strategies that may not work well for themselves or others”. Club Xcite Founder, Stefan Hochfilzer, simplifies this by adding, “if a child is frustrated, but has no idea how to communicate this, why should we punish this child? We should empathize with our students’ and teach them how to be frustrated in different situations, role model what that looks like, and offer new strategies. But we shouldn’t assume all children have this skill”.

Students who set high academic goals, have self-discipline, use problem solving skills, motivate themselves, manage stress, and organize their approach to work; learn more and get better grades (Durlak et al, 2011)”.

Program Manager, Ambar Collins, shares that “it’s an amazing process to watch children begin to build upon existing strengths and facilitate flipping the lens of focusing on what’s going right versus a laundry list of what they shouldn’t be doing. The role-plays that the children throw themselves into are incredible to witness, as they are practicing life skills in real time while developing self-awareness and confidence in their ability to try it out next time! We are honored to provide these services to kids in San Diego and look forward to increasing our presence in private schools and other districts in the future”.

A parent who enrolled her son in the Social Skills Group at Ashley Falls Elementary School shares “He really likes the program and looks forward to it every Wednesday. It’s great that it’s offered to Kindergarteners because he isn’t into sports or karate. I was laughing the other day because he came home and said “Mom we hung out in social club and I talked about some things with other kids. That in it self is great! I can see he is more comfortable interacting with other kids and understanding emotions. I also feel comfortable putting him in another program next year seeing how well he’s doing with this. It’s great it’s at his school, it really fosters a sense of community having it here and that’s really important”.

Founded in 2004, Club Xcite is celebrating 11 years of working with families and children in San Diego who are referred with a broad spectrum of social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. The expansion of their after school enrichment programming has paved the way for integrating social and emotional learning till the vey end of the student’s school day. From Creative Engineering, Stop Motion Animation with Legos, Mini Tennis, Jr. Detectives, and Arts and Crafts; each class is rooted in the company’s core values and philosophy that kids do well if they can. With the right perspective and resources, kids have unlimited opportunities for success in all areas of their lives. Their student to teacher ratio of 4:1 allows them to focus on the whole child and implement positive reinforcement and collaborative problem solving techniques.


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