Thank you for considering our programs for your child. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about our programs. We hope the answers will help you decide if our programs, skills and social coaching style are the right fit for your child or teen. We are also always happy to chat with you about your own particular situation on the phone or by scheduling a parent visit.
Which children and teens benefit the most from your programs?
In the 12 years since Donna founded the Peter Pan Center, she has created a specific niche for children and teens who have mild to moderate social challenges. While we have a wide range of cognitive profiles and learning styles, most of our friends have little or only mild difficulty accessing academic curriculum at school. Our programs are heavily language-based, so children and teens must have good receptive and expressive language skills and be able to participate individually and safely in a group of 10-12 peers. Children and teens must be interested in socializing and and making friends for our coaching approach to be effective.
Our social skills education programs are drop-off and offer purposeful unstructured time using our unique in-the-moment coaching model to replicate the times of day that are the most challenging: recess, lunch etc. You can think of our programs very much like a socially supported recess or after school activity as children and teens are coached and guided in their peer interactions. We do have a parent waiting area should you prefer to stay close by.
What approach(es) do you use?
Every child is an individual and we do not provide a one-size-fits-all approach. We draw from several different social curricula and approaches including our own unique in-the-moment social coaching model that provides children specific social language and phrases we have developed over time that are easily actionable and easy to generalize. We draw a little from a lot of different resources in order to provide well-rounded social learning lessons. We include the concepts of collaborative problem solving, social thinking, incidental teaching and positive behavioral support.
What do I tell my child or teen he or she is going to be doing?
Some children and teens know that they can use support with successful peer interactions and welcome the opportunity to have a place to do that. If your child or teen is a little more reticent to accepting support, we recommend that you simply tell your child or teen that he or she will be trying out a new after school activity and let us do the rest! Scheduling a visit will allow your child or teen to test drive a program with no pressure to commit.
How do I know how my child or teen is doing?
Your child or teen will likely report when asked each week that he or she “just played.” That is the answer we want and expect you to hear. We send home parent updates that highlight the activities we did and skills that we worked on . If you have specific questions about your child’s or teen’s progress, please feel free to e-mail or call us at any time. We also encourage you to send us specific information on anything your child or teen might be struggling with during his or her school day so that we can help support him or her with suggestions etc.
How long before I see improvement in my child’s or teen’s ability to socialize?
Every child and teen is different in terms of how long it will take before improvements are apparent. Some kids may need a little social tune-up and others may be in need of support for the long term. Generally, when children meet the guidelines for success, they improve and graduate from the program. It’s difficult to predict how quickly a child will learn and generalize so we are unable to provide a definitive answer for any individual child.
Do all the children or teens have a diagnosis? Will my child or teen learn behaviors that I don’t want him or her to learn?
Our goal is to provide the most natural peer setting possible for your child or teen to learn and practice in. Our group program looks like any typical after school activity, but offers an extra layer of social support and teaching. Many of our students do not have a documented diagnosis, and are with us for guidance around friendship skills. However, we welcome children and teens who have been identified as having profiles including ADHD, Aspergers, or Social Anxiety. If a child or teen has more pronounced special needs or or requires more intensive support around behavior, we are happy to assist a family in locating the right resources for their child.
Are there children or teens who do not benefit from your programs?
Just like any program, we are not for everyone. We are social educators and do not provide 1:1 services (our programs are typically a group of 8-12 children or teens with an adult social coach facilitating and 2-3 young adult or teen mentors). We recommend a traditional therapeutic setting with licensed counselors for children or teens who struggle with significant aggression, bolting behaviors, oppositional defiant disorder or other related disorders that might cause a safety risk for your child.
My child pushed someone on the playground – is that what you mean by aggression?
No. We completely understand that sometimes a child or teen will have an isolated incident and mildly and briefly lash out in frustration. We can show them better ways to handle frustration. If you have any questions about this particular issue, please feel free to contact us to discuss your child’s or teen’s specific needs.
How do I enroll my child or teen in your programs?
New participants are accepted into our programs on an open enrollment basis when space is available. Parents should schedule a visit to the Center before enrolling a child or teen in our programs to ensure our programs are a good fit for your child.
What is your professional background?
Donna Shea, The Peter Pan Center’s Director, is a parent and social education specialist holding a degree in Behavioral Science from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and has provided social education for children and families at the Center since 2002, piloting many programs in her local area for children. Donna also acts as a consultant to pre-schools, public and private schools, parent groups, and human service agencies. She provides foster parent training for the New England Foster Care Association and The Massachusetts Department of Children & Families. She also travels to bring professional development and parent workshops to groups and venues outside the local area. She has a certification in training others in Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention through the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC). Donna brings 27 years of life experience to her work as a parent of two sons with ADHD. She is also a managing partner How To Make & Keep Friends LLC, a social education company, co-author of a book series available on Amazon and co-creator of the Social Success in School Initiative.
As an Education and Behavior Specialist, Lonnie Ouellette Lonnie holds masters degrees in Counseling and Psychotherapy and Counselor Education. She has a Certificate in Behavioral Interventions for Autism. She has worked as an administrator, clinician, education and behavior consultant, workshop trainer as well as taught early childhood courses at a college level. She has over 25 years of experience in the field of education.
Jillian Goodrich is a licensed School Psychologist (NCSP). Jillian holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies degree in School Psychology from Worcester State University. She is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Education and the National School Psychology Board. She is currently a district-wide School Psychologist for the Winchendon Public School District, working with children from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Jillian has extensive experience conducting psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents of all age and exceptionalities. She has a particular interest/experience in neuropsychology and is looking forward to furthering her education, and experience within this field. Along with her expertise in the evaluation process, she has experience in school-based group counseling and behavioral/academic interventions.
Are your services covered by insurance?
No, we can not bill insurance companies for services as we are not therapists. We operate very much like tutors, only we don’t teach math skills, we teach people skills. However, some families have been successful in having our services reimbursed through employer Flexible Spending Accounts and others have been able to receive grants through other organizations. We do however, strive to keep our tuition costs fair and in the range of an average insurance co-payment or tutoring fee.
How does tuition work?
Tuition is billed monthly and is due the first group of each month to hold your child’s or teen’s placement in the group. Groups meet once a week for one hour and fifteen minutes. There are no refunds for missed classes but we can offer a make-up opportunity if your child or teen misses a class (during the same month).
We hope that we have answered many of your questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us and we’re more than happy to speak with you!
From a parent: Coming to Peter Pan has positively changed my child’s life more than anything else he has experienced! He has blossomed as a person! He’s developed so many wonderful skills that have made it possible for him to make friends, not just there, but outside of Peter Pan as well. What you are doing there is amazing and so important for families such as mine. I could never say thank you enough! And not just for my son’s sake, but for mine, too. Being a single parent of a child with difficulties with social skills was very overwhelming! I agonized over the pain he felt in daily social situations, and often cried myself to sleep over it. As just one person, I wondered how I could ever help him learn to socialize properly, especially being the only person he really had contact with. No matter how much he learned from me, without a natural social situation with his peers to use it in, it was just abstract information to him. As you know, parents who don’t understand what it means to have a kid with social skills issues don’t always want their kids to hang out with those who do, which only compounds the problem. At one point it was hard to even get him to want to leave the house. Having him attend Peter Pan has given him so much confidence, improved his self-esteem, and taught him so many important things that most people take for granted. And it not only gave him the knowledge, but it gave him the opportunity to put that knowledge into practice in a safe, positive environment. – K.J.