Mundo Friends: A Socio-Emotional Development Program

Mundo Friends: A Socio-Emotional Development Program

Our “Mundo Friends” program addresses a modern realization that healthy social skills are critical to success in all areas of life, from mental health and well-being to school, work, and play. No longer is cognitive intelligence the be-all, end-all in our academic or professional lives.

In today’s world, we increasingly understand that we’re all in this life together. It’s through socio-emotional intelligence that we can work better with each other, manage stress more effectively, build stronger relationships, and excel at teamwork. Nowhere do we find this to be more true than in childhood and adolescence, where developing social-emotional intelligence skills can set the stage for success across all areas of life.

Knowing this, modern parents and educators are now striving to create well-balanced, high-achieving youth who have strong social skills. These skills will in turn help in the pursuit of academic success, healthy relationships, and better quality of life. While relationship and social training was once only seen as necessary for those with communications struggles and psychosocial shortcomings, today we know everyone benefits from developing these skills.

Now, experts believe even charismatic, advantaged youth can expand on natural leadership abilities from developing their emotional intelligence. In fact, business magazine Fast Company recently wrote that, in an extensive study of business executives, those who “were strongest in emotional intelligence were more likely to succeed than those strongest in either I.Q. or relevant previous experience.”

“Mundo Friends,” our Socio-Emotional Development Program, is designed to build and strengthen emotional intelligence in students (and parents) through structured socio-emotional skills-focused groups and workshops. During these, children experience constructive social situations within an emotionally-safe and professionally-supported setting. They’re given tools and strategies to negotiate these situations, which help them reach positive outcomes while building relationships. Because “social skill success” is largely marked by establishing positive peer relationships, Mundo Friends groups and workshops encourage our participants to form friendships and connections that go beyond this experience. For children who already enjoy strong social networks, the Mundo Friends goal is to teach them how to apply those social skills to a broader community or team-type setting. In Mundo Friends, we cater to three group types, which include:

Mundo Friends “Friendship Groups”

These groups are designed to build social-emotional intelligence in mainstream students, primarily through structured skill-based training. Common skills often focused on in these groups include, but are not limited to:

  • Positive communication
  • Coping & relaxation strategies
  • Problem-solving
  • Cooperation
  • Self- & social awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Emotional processing
  • Confidence-building

 

In learning these skills, children begin establishing healthy peer relationships while also increasing their self-esteem and personal growth. This group format

engages children in fun-yet-strategic activities that encourage understanding and the practice of positive socio-emotional skills. School-based groups give students the advantage of initiating mutual friendships within their current peer system, which can be of great benefit throughout their academic career. Parent-training is also an important component included as part of the “Friendship Groups” program.

While this group is open, and can be of benefit, to all children, it is proven to be great in helping those who are experiencing issues related to shyness/withdrawal, making friends, bullying or being bullied, inappropriate social behavior, low self-esteem or confidence, or other general difficulties fitting in fully within the classroom setting.

Mundo Friends “Top Leaders” Groups

This group targets youth with above-average skills in socio-emotional development. They are likely to have already mastered most skills practiced in the “Friendship Group”, or have been recommended by their school educators for “leadership training.” These students have strengths within their peer groups, and demonstrate natural leadership capacity both in school and in their community. Group topics focus on channeling their personal strengths into advanced skills in areas that can include, but are not limited to:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Creating collaborative teams
  • Leadership strategies
  • Enhanced self-awareness
  • Maintaining motivation
  • Self-reflection and goal-setting
  • Global citizenship
  • Positive psychology

 
Skills learned here will help students prepare for personal growth and life challenges beyond school and academics, hopefully creating future leaders who have the knowledge and confidence to better serve our communities. Through thought-provoking-yet-fun group activities, students use critical thinking and socio-emotional processes while interacting with peers and solving complex issues together.

Mundo Friends “Dreamers” Groups

This group is ideal for children who may have below-average skills in socio-emotional development. Many children beginning in these groups tend to have experienced more difficulty joining or interacting with peers appropriately, compared to most children in their age category. Sometimes language or other delays contribute to their social challenges, so these groups offer a more interactive style of training with less focus on “content teaching.” Basic skills introduced and practiced with peers include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbal & non-verbal communication
  • Identifying emotions
  • Reading social cues
  • Social awareness
  • Sharing and turn-taking
  • Attention and self-regulation
  • Initiating interactions
  • Coping strategies

 
Children in these groups often have a history of developmental delays and can require more social and behavioral support in larger social settings than their more independent peers. These group experiences can be very helpful them in preparing for a mainstream schooling environment.

General Group Format

Our weekly hour-long “Mundo Friends” sessions are led by a licensed child development specialist, or a certified group leader, who is supervised by a licensed specialist. A typical “Mundo Friends” term runs for 8 to 10 weeks, either on-site at American Wellness Center, or at a registered school. “Mundo Friends” groups consist of 3 to 6 children maximum, or, in school-based groups, groups of 10 students. In our clinic groups, enrollment requires a strengths-and-weaknesses screening performed by an American Wellness Center clinician.