Giving Compass' Take:
- This is a research article that studied how the early education models improve children's social skills and behaviors. The research suggests by supporting and assessing teacher practices in addition to focusing on long-term academic benefits may act as long-term innovators within these programs
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Low-income preschool children face risks to their social-emotional development that can affect them later on. Although there are promising approaches to promoting preschoolers’ social-emotional skills, the evidence base is limited, particularly on their effectiveness when implemented at scale.
As the first large-scale test of three social-emotional enhancements in Head Start programs nationally, this study provides critical information to the field about how interventions seeking to support children’s social-emotional development can focus their training of teachers. The findings suggest, perhaps most important, that scaled-up, evidence-based models can produce impacts in the social-emotional domain during the preschool year of nearly the same magnitude as those from smaller-scale, more controlled studies when the models are supported by strong, comprehensive professional development.
In addition, these findings suggest that more than one evidence-based, social-emotional approach (and, in particular, The Incredible Years or Preschool PATHS) may be effective in meeting Head Start’s goal of improving children’s social-emotional development. Supporting children’s social-emotional competence is a primary focus of Head Start, and developmental science has provided an increasingly strong rationale for this important focus.
That said, while it is clearly possible to improve children’s social skills and social behaviors, it may be more challenging to improve their behavior regulation and related executive function skills. None of the models that were implemented in Head Start CARES improved these outcomes for children.