What is Social-Emotional Learning?
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.
People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially.
Is Foundations of Communication right for me?
I don’t want your family or my team to waste time and energy if your participation isn’t going to have a happy ending. After working with thousands of students in person, online, at weekend camps, and at year-long classes, I’ve learned a lot about who can truly benefit from my instruction. Foundations of Communication is right for you if:
- You know your child needs more than just “book smarts” to succeed in life: You recognize the growing body of science that shows their social skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) are probably more important to your child’s success than their IQ.
- You want help with YOUR mission: You understand that teaching Social Skills for Success is primarily a parent’s responsibility and you’d like some help. I can’t do your job for you, but I sure can help you do it better (and easier)!
Foundations of Communication is NOT for you if:
- You want a “quick fix”: I teach skills that you’ll want to instill as habits for a lifetime. That takes time, action, and practice. It will only work if you and your children do the work. If you are not willing to do the work to make a lasting change, please don’t join. I don’t ask a lot, but it will take effort on your part. There is no magic potion to transform anything without committed students and parents.
- You aren’t willing to commit 1-2 hours a week: The course gives you unlimited access while you remain a member, so you can take it at your own pace. That said, I recommend spending at least 1-3 hours a week until you and your children master the skills you desire for yourself and for them.
- You want your children to learn how to read, manipulate and use others exclusively for self-advancement: As a character-focused education program, I will teach you and your children how to be more authentic and genuinely likable. If you want your children to learn to be charismatically “slick,” we will both be sorely disappointed. Let’s not.
How will my child learn social skills in an online class?
Foundations of Communication is much, much more than simply an online class. It’s an entire blended e-learning program with plenty of opportunity for live interaction! We call it “screening with meaning.”
Without a doubt, there will be an abundance of curriculum in a variety of formats (e.g., videos, games, exercises, reminders, etc.). Many families will find this sufficient and will use the material for their own home-based instruction plans. For committed families there is also active weekly coaching with office hours, online group events, FOCus Classes, and FOCus Teams dedicated to incorporating life skill habits in everyday living.
In addition, there is a wonderful community of like-minded families sharing their challenges and successes so that we can learn together.
At what age should my child participate?
The lessons are designed for people aged from 9 to 90 (actually, 9-19, but parents and grandparents can and should learn something here too).
Ultimately, the determination of the best age to begin is left to the parents’ discretion. There are certainly mature 6-year olds for whom much of the teaching material is relevant. That will be up to you.
Many habits are strongly instilled by the age of 9 or 10. So, as with any life skill worth mastering, the earlier you start the better.
Sadly, research shows that modern families invest late when an earlier investment would pay greater dividends.
How will I find the time on top of current studies, homework, piano lessons, soccer games, etc.?
Having raised and homeschooled nine children, I understand how busy home life can get. That is one of the reasons I created Foundations of Communication. I wanted to make the lives of busy families (and busy parents in particular!) easier.
You’ll be saving valuable time and resources because my team and I do all the topic research, consolidation, and lesson preparation for you. The activities have been designed to work into your normal daily routines. That way you won’t have to carve out special time exclusively for the exercises themselves. Every class is designed with Core lessons as well as an additional set of More lessons for those families that have the time and interest to delve more deeply into a topic.
Ultimately, the time investment you make with your children and family is up to you.
How many hours will this take each week?
I anticipate that most families will dedicate 15 to 45 minutes each day working on the exercises provided, depending on the age and skill level of their children. The key is regularity. Some of the early adopter families are finding good success carving out one night a week for 30 minutes.
There will be many hours of training available inside the program. Lessons will be released in 10-20 minute weekly installments in the form of instructional videos. In addition, there will be recommended daily exercises to help you and your children focus on the life habits you want to adopt.
There is probably more material than you will want to cover for every one of your children. Think of the curriculum as a smorgasbord where you get to pick and choose the activities that you think will best reinforce the learning and cultivate the habits for your children. I recognize that different families have different amounts of time available and that can change from week to week. To help you choose what to cover, I am doing three things:
- You will notice that all the supplemental material is labeled as “Beginner,” “Everyone,” and “Intermediate Plus.” Use the materials that are most appropriate for your students and feel free to skip what is too advanced or too juvenile for your children.
- The curriculum is split into two categories: Core and More. My hope and expectation is that you will complete the appropriate Core curriculum for each student and then pick-and-choose from among the More materials as you see fit.
- As much as possible, I will try to provide exercise options that you can work into your regular family routines (e.g., mealtime, car trips, etc.).
How long does it take to get through the course?
The initial set of courses covers 15 classes that can be enrolled in no sooner than one class per week. We want to discourage students from trying to rush through the training because our objective is not head knowledge, retained long enough to get a good exam score. Instead, we want to help our families adopt new habits and new behaviors that will last, and serve them, for a lifetime.
After the first 15 classes, an expanding library of instruction and materials will be made available to you and your family. I hope that you will be an active participant with other families long enough for your children (and you too!) to achieve mastery in the life skills you desire to learn. So even though your participation may end after the first year, I want the life skills learned to last for your whole life.
Will I be on a deadline to start and complete the course?
No. The videos will not be delivered live, so you don’t need to participate on a strict schedule. The curriculum will be online and on-demand so that you can move at the pace you desire. That said, I will deliver the curriculum as frequently as weekly with the expectation that you will be doing the exercises in anticipation of the next lesson. If you need to take a breather, you can always catch up later. As the classes progress, you will be “partnered” with other families so that you can practice your newfound skills with other people and they with you. That being the case, I strongly recommend that for the duration of the 15 weeks of the three initial courses you maintain the weekly pace.
Many families work for a month or longer on each class. That is perfectly fine. This is not a sprint, but a marathon. Enjoy the journey and focus on your family’s changed behavior.
When you complete the initial courses, there will be many more classes and training materials provided to the whole community. You can adopt the additional classes at the pace that best suits your household.
My child has special needs, will the Social Skills for Success program work for him/her?
Social Skills for Success assumes that participants can give, receive, and follow instructions in the English language. Since parents will be taking the lead in doing the regular exercises, judgment as to the fitness of your student – either as a result of age, maturity, or capability – is left exclusively to your parental discretion. Please feel free to contact me (there is a form at the bottom of this page) if you have specific questions about whether this course will work for your child.
My child is smart but shy. Is he/she a good candidate for this course?
Absolutely. I want to help your son or daughter be their best self and confident in any social interaction. However, my objective is not to transform your child from an introverted bookworm to an extroverted cheerleader. Many people (including most of my family members and me) are not energized by large social gatherings. We would rather curl up near a crackling fire with a good book. Nevertheless, when your daughter participates in a social group, when your son wants to make more friends, I want them to be comfortable and clear-headed about how they can connect with others.
Can I take the course if I live outside the U.S.?
Of course. For the time being, all instruction will be provided exclusively in the English language and will reflect North American cultural norms, manners, and etiquette. At the same time, I will introduce the children to international customs (e.g., in the United States a firm handshake is admirable, whereas in the Philippines, it is seen as a sign of aggression) so that your children can appreciate the practice of others and feel comfortable in almost every social situation.
How long will I have access to the classes?
Access is provided on a year-to-year basis. The 15-week set of courses is the entry point, after which members will be part of a community of families and children interested in sharpening their life skills. All the course materials will be readily available, viewable and downloadable for your entire household while your membership is current. I hope that you will renew annually to continue to benefit from the new curriculum and from the relationships and insights of other families like yours.
What are FOCus Teams and FOCus Classes?
FOCus Teams and FOCus Classes are optional services to help families that are either simply too busy or would appreciate a little more assistance and accountability to help their children.
FOCus Teams and Classes should be considered an addition to the ongoing family practice of using the FOC platform (curriculum, community, coaching), not a replacement for parental involvement.
FOCus Teams – unique, personal, small-group accountability (for an additional fee)
FOCus Teams are a series of 13 weekly meetings that focus on developing social & emotional habits in a small group setting. The sessions are led by an FOC mentor. Parents and students may select their preferred mentor.
The sessions are dynamic and based on the needs of the participants, so no two teams are alike. Because of their unique nature, students can participate multiple times if desired.
The FOCus Team is something of an honors program so there are several qualifications required to participate:
- First and foremost, the student must WANT to participate – active involvement is required
- Students must be at least 10 years of age
- Students must be members of FOC for at least 1 month
- Teams are limited to 7-10 students so each participant must go through a short interview to understand their personal objectives and to match them with other team members
- Students must demonstrate their active involvement by earning a quota of stars each week
Student candidates will be arranged into small groups, in part, by age. Older children may participate without parental involvement. Younger children, however, should have their parent(s) accompany them even though parents will be active observers, but not active participants.
Students who want help and accountability in improving their thinking and their personal behavior. Specific examples may include:
- Those who want improved confidence in social settings
- Those who want superior understanding and control of their emotions
- Those who want a better understanding of how they are perceived and would like to change that perception
FOCus Classes – family instruction on each of the course classes (Starting May 2021: included in family membership)
FOCus Classes are a series of 18 weekly meetings that provide live instruction for each of the Core Classes. One class will be covered each week. All instruction will be provided by Win Heggem.
The classes will follow the same order as outlined in Courses 1-3 (Visage, Voice, and Value). The class includes every member of the participating family’s household, including children of any age (at the parent’s discretion).
FOCus Classes will be provided on a rotating basis, three times per year.
- Parents who lack the time to work through the material with their children
- Parents who want Mrs. Heggem’s unique instruction for their families on a weekly basis
- Parents who want their children exposed to a North American presentation of the material because they may not have it available for their children at home
If you want to see how Foundations of Communication compares to my live classes (Winsome Speaking offerings), here is a page that will show you everything you need to know.