I Can Problem Solve (ICPS)

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Overview

I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) for Schools is a universal school-based program that focuses on enhancing the interpersonal cognitive processes and problem-solving skills of children ages 4-9. ICPS is based on the idea that there is a set of skills that shape how children (as well as adults) behave in interpersonal situations, influencing how they conceptualize their conflicts with others, whether they can think of a variety of solutions to these problems, and whether they can predict the consequences of their own actions. Rather than addressing specific behaviours as right or wrong, ICPS uses games, stories, puppets, illustrations, and role-plays to help children acquire a problem-solving vocabulary, learn to understand their own as well as others’ feelings, think of alternative solutions, and think of potential consequences to an act. In turn, ICPS aims to prevent and reduce early high-risk behaviours, such as impulsivity and social withdrawal, and promote prosocial behaviours, such as concern for others and positive peer relationships. A key principle of the program is that the child, not the teacher, must solve the problem at hand. Giving the child this responsibility allows the child to develop the habit of creating solutions to problems, considering the potential consequences of one’s actions, and thinking for oneself. A companion ICPS program for parents is also available.

ICPS consists of three age-specific programs: preschool (containing 59 lessons), kindergarten and primary school (83 lessons), and intermediate elementary school (77 lessons). ICPS lessons are 20 minutes in duration and taught three to five times per week over the course of the academic year. In addition to the lessons, ICPS offers suggestions for integrating problem-solving principles into day-to-day classroom happenings, a technique called “ICPS dialoguing.”

The impact of ICPS has been studied in several evaluations involving diverse ethnic populations, including one study involving seriously emotional disturbed children. ICPS has been found to have positive impacts on interpersonal cognitive problem solving skills, classroom behaviours (including aggression), school bonding, coping, and pro-social behaviours. Two longitudinal evaluations found that the positive impacts of ICPS were sustained up to four years after the intervention.

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