Temple Israel of Hollywood, in conjunction with the Early Childhood Development Associates, conducts a weekly social skills group for preschool-age children. This group, called The New Friends Group, facilitates social skills to help children with social/emotional challenges as well as sensory integration diagnoses. This helps prepare the children for school readiness as well as affords them an opportunity to increase their self-esteem and confidence within the familiar surroundings of the synagogue's preschool.
During the first part of the program, parents and children play an interactive ball game where the children demonstrate social skills and the ability to make, and sustain, eye contact. The children then move to another part of the room, from "circle time" to "table time", while the parents remain with a group leader to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. The group leaders signal ahead of time so the children can practice moving from one activity and space to another, helping them to learn transition skills.
The group ends with the children rejoining their parents, often bringing them a snack the children have prepared for them. A "goodbye" song is sung to establish closure, to provide an opportunity to practice saying goodbye using names and to help the children transition to their regular classroom.