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Education Overview

The SDM/PS Approach

Intended Audience

The Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program is intended to be used with all students (regular and special education) in the kindergarten to eighth grades, regardless of ability level, ethnic group and socio-economic level. The program has been successfully implemented in urban, suburban, and rural settings throughout the country.

The Social Decision Making Program is designed to become a strategic part of the teaching process, impacting on behavior, academic learning and the social/emotional life of the school setting. The formal lessons are most effectively taught in at least one classroom session per week (two for special education students), but the SDM/PS approach permeates teaching across several content areas. Because the Program provides a foundation of pro-social, critical thinking and life skill learning for all students, it is often a useful structure for organizing existing school programs. In many sites, social decision making has been incorporated into the school's annual plans for student learning objectives.

Curriculum and Instructional Approach

The Social Decision Making Program contains curriculum lessons in the following areas:

  • Self-Control and Social Awareness: These lessons and practice activities target such skills as: listening, following directions, resisting provocation, avoiding provoking others, and self-monitoring stress and emotions (i.e., students learn a self-calming technique in this set of lessons). This phase also targets such group/social awareness skills as how to select friends and show caring. These skills, referred to as the "Readiness Phase" of the curriculum, are a primary focus in the early elementary grades, or when the program is first introduced into a school.
  • Social Decision Making Thinking: As the students gradually master the self-control and group/social awareness skills, the instructional focus begins to shift to teaching the students an eight step "clear thinking" strategy to help in social problem situations.
  • Applications to Academics and "Real Life" Problems: Teachers are trained to design application activities to help students transfer what they have learned in the program to real life and academic areas. Infusion of these skills into academic, personal and social situations occurs throughout the full curriculum sequence, yet this is a particularly popular focus of instruction during the upper elementary and middle school grades.