Barbara Gilmour began her career as a writer late in life, and she would laugh while saying that. After graduating from Penn State University, she married, spent several years in retailing along with helping her husband in their family business. When her daughters were in school, she learned floral design and worked as a designer for many years. When her younger daughter was a senior in college, she asked Barbara to come to her school and teach an etiquette class to her friends who were all graduating. “They are all setting up job interviews and are not confident in their interviewing and social skills,” her daughter explained. So, on a Sunday in the spring, she taught her first social skills class.
A few years later, when the family business was sold, Barbara was looking for something different to do. It was suggested that she should teach social skills classes. She remembered those college seniors and how unsure they were of themselves and wondered how lacking in social skills young children must be. She spent a year researching and writing two courses: Manners for Kids 8-12 and Manners for Teens. She then got classes together and taught these for 5 years. She realized that her focus should be on the younger children, where she saw the most engagement and changed behavior. She saw kids excited to learn skills that would help them build healthy relationships; increasing their self-confidence.
In the early 2000’s she began expanding the kids’ course to focus on school and community programs for early grades. She enlisted the help of two friends as co-authors and educational consultants, and they spent several years developing the Cool Kind Kid Social Skills, Character Values, and Anti-Bullying Curriculum, Elementary School Edition. She commissioned an original music CD with 17 songs, each teaching a different social skill. This CD has now won more than 15 awards.
Successful pilot studies with the curriculum showed improved behavior and fewer incidences of bullying. Her team was requested to develop two shorter programs: Cool Kind Kid Camp Kit for Ages 4-6 and Cool Kind Kid Camp Kit for Ages 7-9. These programs are appropriate for schools, camps, after-school, summer, community and recreation programs.
After focus groups with parents and teachers she saw a need for shorter, less expensive resources for home and school use. Research was beginning to show that social skills, or social competence training, and now social emotional learning, at young ages, were the missing link in bullying prevention. Barbara and Cool Kind Kid were ahead of their time with products that had been addressing this for a long time. In addition to the elementary curriculum and Camp Kits, Barbara is the author of two books and co-author of one, as well as creator of other products to reinforce the concept that kids can be both kind and cool.