Developing a student support network
Programs where older students support and work with younger students helps strengthen school communities and ensures a greater support network within the school. This enables students to feel more safe and unrestricted in their physical, social and mental development and can potentially reduce instances of bullying. Stride Foundation has been running the Peer Support program in Victoria for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in providing training for both teachers and students in holistic early intervention programs.
How Peer Support Works
The Peer Support Program is a whole-school initiative which partners older students with a group of younger students for Peer Support Group Sessions. These sessions encourage discussion about issues the students may face and build on life skills and relationships through fun activities. Older students are trained with leadership and informal mentoring skills to develop and facilitate fun games and activities to support, listen and gently guide younger students through their issues. The younger students who participate in the Peer Support Group Sessions are encouraged to have fun and feel safe and supported. Peer Support helps to break down the divisions between year levels., and has proven to develop a more cohesive and friendly school community.
About the Training
Peer Support training includes:
- Creating a friendly group
- Communication skills, i.e. active listening, understanding body language, being assertive but fair, giving instructions, assisting others sensitively.
- Problem solving.
- Managing a group, i.e. building a positive environment, being an effective Peer Support Leader.
Stride facilitators can provide training in Peer Support directly to students within the school or as a professional development workshop for teachers and wellbeing staff. Detailed resource material is provided for the continuation of the program and to reiterate learning outcomes. The Peer Support program can be run at both primary and secondary school levels.
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