Kelso’s Choice Conflict Management Skills program effectively teaches young children peace-making skills. It is a proven resource to increase confidence, reduce tattling and is a preliminary tool to prevent bullying.
The program is a powerful and timely tool to build a vital life skill for the young people in today’s world. The program philosophy is simple: each child is smart enough and strong enough to resolve conflict.
Unlike some programs which tout peer mediators who are trained to intervene as conflict managers, Kelso’s Choice assumes that all young people are capable of becoming peacemakers. Developed in 1992 and revised in 2007, it is a results driven comprehensive tool used successfully around the world.
How it is Unique
The Kelso’s Choice program is a unique resource that caters to the age group and accommodates the demanding schedule of elementary-level counselors, teachers, home school instructors, parents and more.
Kelso’s Choice is made to engage its young audience. Elementary-aged students and special needs children have limited attention spans. Each component of the program fits into an allotted 15-45 minute time span and engages auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning through Total Body Response lessons. The nine solutions, also called “Kelso’s Choices,” are paired with strong visuals and body movements that make the lesson easy to grasp for young, developing minds. These solutions and visuals are reiterated in several styles, through several lessons and activities to strengthen recall.
Kelso’s Choice was created by two elementary school guidance counselors to fulfill the void of an effective and easy-to-implement character education program. It is engineered to grow with the children as they develop and as their conflicts become more complex. Additionally, each component is varied in style to keep students interested and engaged lesson after lesson. There are tools for teachers, administrators, parents and others to use between lessons to strengthen the link between Kelso’s Choices and everyday situations.
How It Is Used
Most schools implement Kelso’s Choice on a school-wide basis including teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, custodians, and cooks in the process. When all of the adults in a school ask students to follow the guidelines of the program, clear, consistent and firm expectations result. In addition to being used in school-wide programs, Kelso’s Choice is often presented to small groups of students or used during individual counseling either to reinforce the lessons taught in the classroom or to provide problem-solving techniques. The material has been successfully adapted for use with diverse student groups, including students experiencing physical, behavioral, learning, emotional or psychological challenges. The program has also been proven effective when teaching anger management skills and impulsivity control.
How It Works
The basic program consists of 23 lessons, with 16 additional reinforcement activities for review and reinforcement. Typically, classroom teachers or guidance counselors present the material. Within the core program, students are first taught to discriminate between “big” problems that must be shared with an adult, and “small” problems that they can resolve.
After mastering this distinction, each of the nine skills are taught to the students. For example, specific strategies for “MAKE A DEAL” are taught and practiced, including how to flip a coin, how to pick a number from one to ten, how to compromise and make a trade-off, etc.
The program encourages students to try two choices from “Kelso’s Wheel.” If the “small” problem persists, they are told that adult intervention is warranted. Because terms such as “Ignore” are linguistic in nature, each skill is reduced to distinct operational skills, so young learners understand the meaning and function of each behavior.
The sequence of the lessons is flexible, and allows for the age and experience of the students. Activities include having younger students illustrate huge colored chalk circles of “Kelso’s Wheel” on the playground and having them create clay dioramas of animals who are solving their conflicts using the nine skills.
In other lessons, older students are role models who act out viable solutions to conflict situations suggested by younger students, or they create individualized conflict management “wheels” in which they identify actual situations in their lives that require conflict management skills.
Total Body Response, or auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning activities are provided, as are all levels of learning mastery, from simple identification through synthesis. Throughout the lesson, two important messages are presented: every student can make good choices (not just student mediators) and every student can make the choice that fits them best.
Because of cultural or personality differences, it is not mandated that specific “small” problems must be handled in exactly the same way by all students. Instead, students are allowed to make individual choices … some students might use a more assertive approach (TELL THEM TO STOP), while others may select a less assertive choice (IGNORE).