Several years ago, Lucas Mitzel, LCSW, co-created the Ranch's STAR group, with STAR standing for Social skills, Thinking flexibility, Anger control, and Resiliency. The group builds the emotional intelligence of Ranch kids, and interjects positive messages into daily life at the Ranch.
How does it work? Case managers choose a STAR topic each week, and find activities to reinforce the topics--which have included morality, black and white thinking, communication, etc. On Sundays, direct care staff introduce the topic and the daily goal. Every evening before bedtime, staff and kids gather in their cottage to talk about how they met their goal that day and to share examples.
One night a week in STAR group (Tuesdays for girls and Wednesday for boys), kids participate in activities and games to make the learning interactive.
For instance, one week the topic was "morality" and the goal was to do something nice each day. Every evening, kids had the chance to tell the group about a kindness they did for someone that day--preferably when that person wasn't looking! During their weekly STAR group, they practiced kindness by writing something positive and putting it in a peer or staff's bag. This activity not only taught them to practice kindness, but game each of them a bag of positive thoughts they could look back on when they needed a boost.
Another week, Beach Ball Toss reinforced communication and teamwork skills, Anger Volcanoes reinforced teachings about recognizing and controlling anger.
STAR group has been a great addition to our kids' daily schedule.