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The NewStart Model of Life Skills

 

Life Skills are problem solving behaviours appropriately and responsibly used in the management of personal affairs. Some basic lessons are: Seeing Oneself on Video, Listening to Others, Describing Feelings, Relating to Others, and Giving and Receiving Feedback.


The Saskatchewan NewStart model of Life Skills was developed in the late sixties and early seventies in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, as a joint initiative of the federal Department of Manpower and Immigration and the Saskatchewan Department of Education. The intent was to design an effective system of delivering adult basic education to disadvantaged populations. The designers - educators, psychologists and counsellors - developed an experiential approach that incorporates specific skills, a sequence of skill development and specific problem solving systems. That approach has since been adapted to make the training relevant to anyone wishing to develop and improve communication and problem solving skills.

 

The Basic Life Skills Program

The delivery of each topic is a five step process:

The Stimulus for a lesson is often provided through group discussion, role play and brainstorming.

Evocation assists participants to describe their experiences in the stimulus using behavioural descriptors and to share their knowledge about the lesson objective.

Objective Inquiry/Skill Practice provides participants with a detailed "how to" of the skill(s) to be learned and the opportunity to practice the new skill(s) within the safe confines of the group.

Skill Application involves applying those new skills to an actual situation.

Evaluation involves a de-briefing of the lesson with the group, assisting students to identify skills they have mastered and those that need continued improvement (what did you learn and how might you use it?).

The curriculum and its delivery are designed to allow participants to build skills in a progressive and planned manner. The skills learned when beginning the group provide a foundation for subsequent learning and skill practice.

A major strength of the program is development of group cohesiveness and consequent peer group support. The group becomes the primary learning and support vehicle for the participants. This ensures that when participants leave the program they have developed a component of an ongoing and effective support network.