A preschool enrichment program developed at Penn State helps boost social and emotional skills that still have positive effects years later during middle and high school, according to a new study. The researchers found that students attending Head Start preschools that implemented the Research-based, Developmentally Informed (REDI) program were less likely to experience behavioral problems, trouble with peers and emotional symptoms like feeling anxious or depressed by the time they reached seventh and ninth grade.
Karen Bierman, Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Psychology, said she was encouraged that the students were still showing benefits from the program years later. The program had an effect on internal benefits, including better emotion management and emotional well-being, as well as external benefits, such as reduced conduct problems,” Bierman said. “So not only did the program result in fewer distressed adolescents, but it also resulted in less distress for their teachers and peers, as well. It’s an important finding to know we can promote these long-term benefits by intervening early with a strategic prevention programming embedded in a well-established public program like Head Start.“
It’s a program that teaches skills like how to make friends, how to be aware of your and others’ feelings, and how to manage strong feelings and conflict. “These programs are designed to enhance the child’s ability to get along with others, regulate their emotions, and develop coping skills,“ Bierman said. She added that REDI also promotes language development with daily interactive reading and discussion sessions that involve children in talking through the social and emotional challenges faced by story characters.
Source: Science Daily