News & Views

School’s Cool for Children with Exceptionalities?

We love when School’s Cool is adapted to different settings or groups of children.  Like when schools successfully used the School’s Cool program as the first six weeks of kindergarten and found it leveled the playing field.  Or when the program proved to be very effective with  groups of children who had English as a second language.  Now Mothercraft, in Ottawa Ontario, are going to pilot a School’s Cool program exclusively for children with autism.  While we have years of evaluative data showing effectiveness with children with exceptionalities, we have yet to evaluate a cohort children who have autism.

The stories and evaluative data of children with autism and Aspergers who have taken School’s Cool would certainly lead us to expect success in a targeted program. Jenna Burnett, a School’s Cool Coordinator in Haliburton Ontario tells of a child in her School’s Cool program this summer, who was autistic.  His parents were very concerned about him making the transition into kindergarten.  She said “He was a wonderful success story!  His struggle was that he had a lot of difficulty transitioning from activity to activity.  At the beginning of the summer it was really difficult for him to leave any activity and go … to circle, for example.  By the end of summer, not only was he transitioning really easily, but he was expecting that next step!”

Jenna also talked of the relief experienced by the parents. “The relief his mom felt at the end of the program compared to the beginning of the summer when she was just so anxious was huge!”

Another School’s Cool Coordinator, Eileen Gerber from Durham Region, who has had 12 years’ experience training School’s Cool Instructors and overseeing multiple programs at a time, says their organization has always included children with some level of autism or Aspergers.  Some needed preparation for the transition to kindergarten. Some had already been in kindergarten but may not have done well, or there was a concern that the child would lose the gains made at school, over the summer.

“School’s Cool is a very, very effective program for them,” explained Eileen. “In one instance, the child did extremely well in School’s Cool.  However he didn’t do well in kindergarten and in November, the parents set up a meeting so I could go in and give the teacher all the strategies and tips that I had used in the School’s Cool program. We spent an hour with this teacher. Once we shared what we had done and she implemented the skills and strategies we had used in the School’s Cool program, within a week the problems she was experiencing totally disappeared!“

We look forward to hearing about and sharing the experiences of the Ottawa group.

About Gena Robertson

Gena Robertson is the President and Creator of School’s Cool. A social worker by profession, and problem-solver by nature, Gena has always felt that success in school levels the playing field for children. Her vision is for School’s Cool to be available in all communities to create generations of children who thrive.

"When Gena Robertson was troubled by the many young people who didn’t complete high school and ended up struggling through life, she took action and created School’s Cool. It was an idea ahead of its time and has improved the lives of thousands of children. We are fortunate to have Gena in our world. She recognizes the needs in our communities, and then works tirelessly for change at a local, provincial and national level. Gena is more than a visionary. She is an inspiration for what is possible."
Wendy Ladurantaye - President, SIRCH Community Services