Teaching responsible decision making for students K-8: The Social Decision Making/Problem Solving (SDM/PS) Program

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The Social Decision Making/Problem Solving (SDM/PS) Program, developed by the Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare Research and Training Institute in the US, is designed to promote the development of social awareness, self-control, and decision-making skills in children. There is a strong focus on building emotional and cognitive regulation and enhancing interpersonal skills. The program also includes an eight-step “clear thinking” strategy to help students make healthy and positive choices in social problem situations.

A K-8 program, SDM/PS program is available in four books: Grades K-1, Grades 2-3, Grades 4-5, and Grades 6-8. Each book includes around 30 developmentally guided lessons and instructional activities for each grade. SDM/PS has been evaluated in multiple studies with students showing increased emotional, social and academic competence and prosocial skills, and reduced antisocial behavior.

In addition to on-site training for educators, this program also offers a robust family engagement component- lessons include parent letters and take-home information sheets/activities to reinforce concepts at home. Also available is the Leader’s Guide for Conducting Parent Meetings, which provides school staff with a comprehensive plan for conducting parent workshops on social decision-making.