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Kids First Programs

Overview of Workshop Content and Goals

The goals of the Kids First workshops are:

  1. To teach children skills they can use to cope with changes in the family when parents separate or divorce
  2. To provide parents information they can use to help their children

The children's workshops consist of one 90-minute session per week for eight weeks, and are run in tandem with two workshops for parents. The workshops use an educational approach, incorporating age-appropriate activities. Participants practice communication and coping skills in the context of group projects and games, which reflect common and increasingly complex social interactions. Children equipped with such skills appear less likely to develop behavioral and emotional problems as a result of the potentially negative impact of divorce.

The sessions are structured progressively, each one building on what was learned in the proceeding session. The following is a brief description of the workshop series offered for each age group: four to six years old, seven to nine years old, ten to twelve years old, and thirteen to seventeen years old, and parents.

Four-to Six-Year-Old

Children appropriate for participation should have some prior experience in a preschool-type environment and be able to follow basic rules for group activities.

The workshop addresses specific issues often of concern to four-to-six year olds whose parents separate or divorce:

  • Belief that they (the children) are the cause of the separation or divorce
  • Fear of someone being hurt by inter-parental hostilities
  • Frightening fantasies of what will happen or has happened to the parent who moves out
  • Fear of being left by the parent with whom they live primarily
  • Feeling overwhelmed by intense emotional reactions
  • Problems or fears surrounding visitations with the non-primary parent
  • Fears of being replaced (associated with parental remating or remarriage, introduction of step –siblings, or the birth of another child)

The workshop curriculum is designed to help children address these issues in a structured and reassuring way. Each session begins with a snack, and ends with children voicing what they remember about the session. To reinforce new concepts and skills, children (with leaders' help) create workbooks, which they add to during each session.


Seven-to-Nine, Ten-to-Twelve and Thirteen to Seventeen Year Old

Different activities have been designed taking into consideration the age and emotional development differences of the childrens’ groups, each group learns:

  • To identify and communicate their feelings about parental separation or divorce, and the changes in their families
  • To talk about these changes with other children and with adults at home and at school
  • Some basic concepts about the legal process of divorce and child custody decision-making
  • Problem-solving methods for dealing with conflict-laden situations that children of divorce frequently encounter
  • Addresses unique issues of adolescence in the group

Parent Curriculum

The parent's workshops use a lecture and role play format to give participants an understanding of what the children are probably experiencing and ways they can help their children and themselves. Because Kids First is primarily educational in nature, individual “sharing time” is limited. At each session, handouts will be provided which can serve as useful referral tools. Homework assignments will also be given each week.

Registration, Fees and Program Dates

Sessions are held on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Chapman University for seven weeks; The eighth week graduation ends at 12:30.

  • For registration and fee information, go to our Registration page.
  • For program dates, go to our Calendar page.
  • Or call 714-536-4364 and refer to the “Registration” mailbox.



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