The Quirky Kid Clinic and The University of Wollongong are proud to announce a new research collaboration testing the life-changing potential of clinic-based and school-based social and emotional learning programs. The research study will evaluate the efficacy of The Best of Friends® program in building children’s social and emotional competencies.
Term 2 Intake Update
Term 2 sessions are now available in Nowra, Wollongong and Austinmer. The session will start on Thursdays 3rd of May starting at 4:15 or 4:30 pm. Applications close 5th of March – hurry.
Parents and children are invited to apply. The study will involve weekly one-hour group sessions, taking place over the course of ten weeks. Sessions will be delivered by trained facilitators and will cover topics around self-awareness and self-management, social awareness, and social management. The weekly sessions will be available in Sydney, Austinmer and at the Early Start Centre at the University of Wollongong.
How does my child take part?
We are currently recruiting children between the ages of 7-11 years, who are typically-developing, and who struggle to make or maintain friendships, manage social situations and regulate their emotions are eligible to take part in this study. To apply and receive the complete Parent Information Sheet please please visit apply at http://bof.quirkykid.com.au/research or call us for more information.
Children who meet the selection criteria, and who have parental consent, will be randomly allocated (like drawing a number out of a hat) to either an intervention or a control group, and parents will be contacted with further information.
Who has approved it?
This study has been granted ethics approval by Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Human Research Ethics Committee with approval number ‘HREC/17/SCHN/331’.
Quirky Kid is a resident start-up of the iAccelerate program, which is a business accelerator and incubator facilitated and supported by the University of Wollongong (UOW). iAccelerate is the largest single University supported program of its type in the country, has supported more than 100 business start-ups since 2012.
Kimberley was one of the many distinguished guests present, including iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa and representatives from other iAccelerate resident companies – Me3d and Recovery Camp.
Kimberley introduced the important work we do at Quirky Kid and discussed out the journey from an initial start-up business to a successful publisher of therapeutic resources with clinics based in Sydney and Wollongong. Kimberley also reinterred the benefits of the iAccelerate for startups like Quirky Kid, including support and access to a network of like-minded business people
Additionally, Kimberley highlighted Quirky Kid’s vision of supporting and developing children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) on a global scale; introduced some of the Technology-Based products we are developing and discussed our research partnership with the University of Wollongong.
We love learning at Quirky Kid and are always working to create a learning culture within our team. Our “Lunch & Learn” sessions are one of the many ways in which we try to develop new skills. The sessions are fun, practical, and informative opportunities to learn from industry-leading experts and expand our knowledge of emerging topics around current child development and family issues.
Lunch and Learn sessions are held regularly at our clinics in Sydney and Wollongong and are open to anyone with interest in the topic to attend. We recognise that attendance is not always possible, and have therefore included (below) a summary of the background of the guest presenter and of the topics presented to us in each of these sessions to-date, for those who are interested or would like a quick review.
Register your interest for the upcoming 2018 professional workshops at our workshop pages.
Dianne Starkey has been working as a psychologist for the past 41 years specialising in the treatment of children, adolescents and adults. Previous workshops that Dianne has run include trauma treatment, attachment theory and the treatment of attachment disorder, and court assessments and reports.
Dianne shared her wealth of knowledge on:
Identifying and assessing risks as psychologists
Community Services Mandatory Reporters Guide and safeguarding children
Rights and legal requirements of a therapist, as well as appropriate behaviour and emotion regulation of a therapist in family court
Preparing and presenting a therapy report to the court
“Do’s” and “don’t do’s” when preparing or presenting therapy reports
Lesley Harrison represented The Office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner for this Lunch & Learn session. Her presentation provided a great insight into the extent that young people are accessing material online and using social media.
With social media and access to technology becoming more available, we gained a great deal from this Lunch & Learn session, covering :
Developmental stages that children go through and how these stages are affected by screen time
Technology-Facilitated Abuse (TFA), which is an issue in the online world for young people and reporting TFA
Most common types of online TFA are: name-calling, threats, cyberstalking, social humiliation, sexual harassment, offensive language, sharing without consent, or repeated requests
Gaming and the potential for gaming to become an addiction. Strategies were suggested for parents to protect their children from over-using or even becoming addicted to computer/console gaming
Dr Rebecca Sng is a Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Family Therapist. Rebecca has a great deal of knowledge and lived experience in the area of working within Narrative Therapy.
Rebecca covered the foundations of Narrative Therapy such as:
Focusing on the concept of storytelling such as re-storying or re-authoring (rewriting or changing one’s view of a certain story
Skills used in this approach which include retelling a dominant story as an alternate story, using an outsider as a witness and Externalisation
Narrative therapy acknowledges ‘Migration of Identity’ where an individual shows a public acknowledgement of a preferred identity
Professor Stuart Johnson is a highly regarded researcher and teacher at the University of Wollongong. He is passionate about non-drug treatment alternatives for children with AD/HD.
Stuart’s Lunch & Learn session focused on:
A tool that Stuart and his team recently created to treat the core problems in ADHD. The device (which is a bluetooth EEG recorder and computer generated games) aims to manage behavioural inhibitions and improve performance on tasks due to being under aroused
The most significant area to focus on when treating children with ADHD is working memory and cognitive training
Children with ADHD are “under-aroused”, that is, they seek external stimuli to self-stimulate, therefore it is important to train them to maintain focus and be able to meditate to feel calm.
With almost 20 years experience in clinical psychology, Louise Shepherd has developed a passion for Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and has grown as one of the leaders in this field within Australia.
This flexible parenting session:
Covered key skills to educate and equip families in flexible parenting with ACT
Explored how ACT can help parents to ride the emotional rollercoaster whilst staying true to their heartfelt desires and values for raising healthy and well-adjusted kids.
Addressed key concepts and exercises that might help a therapist working with parents.
Stephanie Meades is passionate about creating positive change in people’s lives through empowerment and education of positive lifestyle change. As a certified GAPS (Gut and Psychological Syndrome) practitioner and passionate advocate, Steph presented on the following:
How behaviour, mental health and gut health can be tied together
Tips for reducing damage to gut health such as avoiding processed foods and chlorinated water, feed your body with nourishing foods and avoiding sugar
Provided empirical evidence for probiotic supplementation demonstrating positive improvements in reducing anxiety-like behaviours, reducing depression-like behaviours, improving learning and memory, improving response to emotional stimuli – emotional processing and reducing self-reported feelings of sadness and aggressive thoughts.
Mark is from a behavioural perspective background and currently works at the Child Behaviour Research Clinic of the University of Sydney. Marks Lunch & Learn session discussed:
How “attachment parenting” is becoming a buzzword in Australia and how the people associated with attachment are causing doubt and suspicion in the public for those who follow the behavioural research
How some of the attachment articles out there claiming behavioural practitioners are causing trauma and harm with ‘time-out’ procedures
Maintaining the behavioural integrity of an intervention, and also to include ‘attachment’ type concerns
Kesser Torah College is a Jewish educational facility offering Jewish Education and care for children aged 2 years – Year 12. The College incorporates the Early Childhood Centres (Carl Rose Early Learning School and the Education & Care Centre), Primary School and High Schools, situated in beautiful Dover Heights, Sydney. At Kesser Torah College education is also about life itself, “going above” and “looking beyond” the academic and extra-curricular program and applying learning to living.
Their enrolment continues to establish our Social and Emotional program as the most effective classroom intervention to foster children’s social and emotional wellbeing. We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.
About Kesser Torah College
Kesser Torah was incorporated in December 2003, and is a Jewish orthodox school with a Chabad ethos. It has grown to accommodate over 480 students catering to over 250 families. With a staff complement of 90 professionals, the school is committed to enhancing academic and extra-curricular learning for each child as an individual, and to providing the highest quality Jewish and Secular education, as well as pastoral care. The teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe OBM continue to inspire the educational philosophy of Kesser Torah College.
The College is co-educational to the Year 1 level. Years 2-6 in the Primary School and in the High School, boys and girls are taught separately.
Social and Emotional Learning
Equally with their commitment to academic results and positive psychology, Kesser Torah College has demonstrated clear commitment to the Social and Emotional Learning of their students. We were impressed with the vision, passion and commitment the school has for “going above” and “looking beyond” the academic and extra-curricular program and applying learning to living.
About The Best of Friends and the School
The implementation of The Best of Friends ® will take place progressively and will be closely supported by the program author and our Educational Developmental Psychologists Dr. Kimberley O’Brien.
Participants will receive a copy of the exclusive workbook developed by Quirky Kid. Facilitators and teachers will have access to a series of manuals and regular supervision as and when required.
The Best of Friend is a Social and Emotional Learning program developed by The Quirky Kid Clinic. Find out more.
Currently, the program is available to a limited number of schools and organisations. The BoF program has a comprehensive implementation, evaluation and monitoring plan and we are keen to identify partners committed to SEL implementation and evaluation.
Schools can choose from a target (small group) or universal (classroom) format. We will provide all the implementation assistance required, including training, supervision and support for key staff members.
Quirky Kid welcomes professionals and interns from various walks of life including provisional psychologists, editors, graphic artists and teachers. During the course of their internships – from 3 to 6 months – a lot of learning takes places. In this new section, we ask our interns and colleagues to share their experiences with Quirky Kid; what they’ve learnt and how this experience will help them in the future. In this post, Emily Bartlett shares her experience.
Why did I apply?
As a current psychology student, I applied to volunteer at The Quirky Kid Clinic to put to use my existing skills and knowledge and to gain some practical experience working with leading experts in the field of child psychology. I was excited for the opportunity to interact with others who shared my interests and to learn from their invaluable experience and knowledge.
What did I learn?
I was exposed to a variety of projects and tasks during my placement, which helped me develop new skills, get a taste of clinical practice, and to apply my knowledge. I was involved in everything from staff training for the BaseCamp program, to research and content writing for the Quirky Kid website, and even coordinating the social media accounts. In addition, I was involved in the process of developing and recruiting for the Best of Friends research study in conjunction with the University of Wollongong, which gave me some valuable insight into how a large-scale research project is run.
How will this help me in the future?
I believe the first-hand knowledge and experience I have gained in this setting has improved my confidence and has given me the skills needed to succeed in a clinical setting. As a psychology student, the experience will be invaluable in preparing me for future Masters study and work in this field. Most importantly, being exposed to the level of professionalism and expertise shown by all the staff here has really helped me develop professionally and personally.
My experience with Quirky Kid as a company
My experience at The Quirky Kid Clinic was very positive and rewarding. Working alongside like-minded individuals who share a passion for helping people and who are highly skilled in their profession was very inspiring. The Clinic is a warm and supportive environment that really caters to the needs of the clients and makes them feel safe and supported. Additionally, the way Quirky Kid resources are presented is creative and fun which is what has made them so successful and popular among kids and parents alike, both nationally and internationally.
Tips for future applicants
This is a diverse role where you are exposed to a variety of day-to-day tasks. The advantage of this is you get to try a lot of new things, but it makes it important to be flexible, self-motivated and to prioritise tasks effectively. I found this internship to be a very rewarding experience, and would highly recommend this opportunity to other aspiring psychologists.