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Intervention: Peer Supports. By, Kelsey Schonhard. What is peer supports?. An intervention strategy unto which people of an educational system help one another through natural friendships created by the program.

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Intervention: Peer Supports

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Intervention: Peer Supports

By, Kelsey Schonhard


What is peer supports?

  • An intervention strategy unto which people of an educational system help one another through natural friendships created by the program.

  • There are many different types: elder peer aiding younger peer, general education peer aiding special education peer, and special education peer aiding special education peer.


Classroom application

  • Ways to use peer supports in the classroom:

  • Pairing partners

  • Group work

  • Oversee activities

  • Available if necessary


Demographics

  • Approximately 77% of schools across the United States do have some form of Peer supports in place at their school.

  • While, approximately 23% of schools do not have any ‘formal’ form of Peer supports in place in their school.


Benefits of peer supports

  • Students are more approachable than adults

  • Builds relationships

  • Increases disabled students confidence


Benefits continued…

  • Increased social interactions in the classroom

  • Increased academic performance

  • Increases students with disabilities interest in extracurricular activities


Benefits continued…

  • Lastly, EVERYONE benefits from peer supports!

  • Teachers, students with the disability, and peer supporters themselves


Limitations

  • As with any benefit, comes a limitation.

  • Public interest, buy-in

  • Role of staff

  • Further research


Qualities of a good peer mentor

  • Good listener

  • Doesn’t judge

  • Knows the school well

  • Good communicator

  • Positive attitude


Facts about peer supports

  • The most common form of peer supports is called “Peer befriending” and in second place is “Peer mentoring”

  • The peer supporters are trained most often by internal staff members

  • It is most utilized in the school lunchroom.

  • Can be applied to walking down the halls, playing outside, and uninstructed times of the day


Study by Catherine Houlston

  • (1) Which of the following options described the existing peer support initiative (more than one option could be selected): a befriending approach –encouraging peer supporters or ‘buddies’ to build friendships with vulnerable or lonely children; a conflict mediation approach – training peer supporters to resolve peer conflicts and bullying situations; a counseling approach – whereby peer counselors provide support to students through relatively formal structured sessions; a mentoring approach – whereby a relationship is formed between a peer mentor who acts as a role model to another pupil (usually younger) who is in need of support and guidance; a lunchtime club – informal sessions run by peer supporters during break times that students are able to attend without appointment to engage in various games and activities; and, lastly, there was an ‘other’ option where respondents were asked to give brief details associated with peer support initiatives.


Survey Continued

  • (2) How long the peer support scheme had been operating in the school.

  • (3) Qualitative information about the main objectives and expected outcomes

  • (4) The source of the training provided for peer supporters (all applicable answers could be selected): local authority; neighboring schools; CHIPS (Child line in Partnership with Schools); the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; another external agency – with name of organization if known; internal members of staff; or ‘no formal training’.

  • (5) The total number of students typically trained.

  • (6) The approximate gender ratio of these students.

  • (7) The year group(s) these peer supporters were in.

  • (8) Whether the school was involved in sharing practice in peer support schemes with other schools (‘yes’/‘no’/‘don’t know’).


Online resources

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

  • “Peer Resources Network”:

    http://www.peer.ca/peer.html


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