Downeast Horizons believes children learn best in their natural environments: in their homes, in their communities and with their peers. We provide real life situations and opportunities where learning has meaning and relevance to the topic.
Direct instruction is implemented in individual and/or group settings. Downeast Horizons offers one-to-one instruction with a trained staff person. In addition to the one-to-one staffing they receive, children are able to participate in a social skills group. Group placement is determined by the Program Administrator, and is based on age, development level and group dynamics. Safety is the first priority and supervision is diligently maintained. The name SPARKS was chosen by our children and represents S.P.A.R.K.S. (Socially Progressive Adolescents Reaching Keys to Success). The current SPARKS Groups are Sparks and Tigers/Huskies.
The social skills groups are facilitated by a program adiministrator in a structured format with a pre-approved lesson plan that guides the session. Often this identified staff collaborates with the child they work with to increase the child’s engagement. Including the child in this manner offers the child the opportunity to be a leader within their peer group.
Groups, while structured and pre-planned, also provide supervised time for children to have fun and the opportunity to interact with peers that they may not otherwise have access to. Interactions are safe and children feel a sense of belonging to a group to which they otherwise would not be connected.
Group activities include: swimming, barbecues, movies, sliding, hiking, nature walks, field trips to historic places, summer camp, boat rides, meal preparation, fairs, bowling, day camping, scavenger hunts, visits to national and state parks, libraries, volunteer projects, and community service.
Pre-planning and pre-teaching are important components to programming. Lesson plans are goal oriented and always focus on an instructional topic. They are pre-planned and shared with all staff prior to presentation to allow them to pre-teach expectations to their assigned child and to allow them to gauge what they will need in order to make the session a success for the child with whom they work. Children attend these groups with their assigned one-to-one staff who is responsible for tailoring the lesson to the child’s individual needs. Topics vary and include relevant topics to assist these youngsters with learning how to navigate their social world as well as to learn information to help prepare them to be responsible, productive adults.