Cards and other pieces from Quirky Kids' Best of Friends program

Best of Friends program a boost for child social and emotional intelligence

Best of Friends program a boost for child social and emotional intelligence

Researchers provide independent evaluation of social and emotional learning program for children

Children will get a social and emotional learning boost thanks to an education program developed by child psychology clinic Quirky Kid and supported by the University of Wollongong (UOW) and NSW Government.

Quirky Kid’s ‘The Best of Friends’ program has had its efficacy independently evaluated through a project with UOW’s Advantage SME supported by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.

NSW Treasury Executive Director of Trade and Investment Kylie Bell said the statewide ‘Boost’ program helped innovative small businesses like Quirky Kid tap into the research knowledge of NSW universities and the CSIRO.

“The Boost program allows entrepreneurs to tap into the top-notch research provided by our universities to create new products that can be taken to national and international markets,” Ms Bell said.

Quirky Kid CEO Dr Kimberley O'Brien said the clinic, which operates in Austinmer and Woollahra, now hoped to make The Best of Friends program available to schools nationally and overseas after getting it further validated through the Boost project.

Kimberley O'Brien and Benji Rocker playing with Best of Friends program cards

Quirky Kid CEO Dr Kimberley O'Brien with Benji Rocker playing with the Best of Friends program cards.


“The Best of Friends program is designed to provide social and emotional learning for children aged 7 to 11. It teaches kids how to make and maintain positive friendships; develop empathy and communication skills; recognise, express and manage their emotions; and negotiate and resolve conflicts.

“It also teaches them to work independently and cooperatively; increase resilience and be assertive; share ideas and appreciate diverse perspectives; and develop teamwork and leadership skills,” Dr O’Brien said.

Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell from UOW’s School of Education, said the further independent valuation of The Best of Friends program will support the resource to be embedded into primary school curriculums and other settings.

“The program resource was very exciting in its intention and presentation, however, it was our task to evaluate the program using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods," Dr Weatherby-Fell said.

“Ten final year pre-service teachers from our Bachelor of Primary Education program were trained as program facilitators to deliver The Best of Friends program. Students and parents or carers provided responses to questionnaires and gave feedback as part of our independent evaluation.”

Noelene Weatherby-Fell, School of Education

Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell from UOW’s School of Education oversaw the evaluation of the Best of Friends program.


South Coast resident Juliana Carpenter, of Milton, enrolled her 11-year-old son Jake in The Best of Friends program after hearing about it from a friend.

“Jake was having trouble at school with bullying and wasn't in a good space so we got him into the program. It was fantastic and allowed him to take stock and understand the behaviour and that there was nothing wrong with him. We have also since moved him to another school and he is thriving.”


Advantage SME is the University of Wollongong’s in-house industry matchmaker, helping businesses and researchers find their ideal partners and build beneficial relationships.