Social-emotional learning for preschool children

This study from the Early Childhood Education Journal looks at the effects of an SEL curriculum on the social and emotional competence of preschool pupils. Participating teachers and pupils were assigned to either a treatment group or a control group. In the treatment group, Strong Start Pre-K was implemented, a programme that covers specific objectives and goals that help to prevent emotional and mental health problems; optional booster lessons are included to reinforce skills. In the control group, Strong Start Pre-K was not implemented.

The study showed a significant decrease in internalising behaviours and more improvement in the pupil–teacher relationship in the treatment group. The results also supported the use of the optional booster lessons.

To learn more about effective approaches to social-emotional learning, see “Social and emotional learning programmes that work”, an article from a recent issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine.

Source: Promoting social and emotional learning in preschool students: A study of strong start pre-k (2012), Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(3)

Recent policy developments in school sport

This policy update from the House of Commons library provides a summary of the debate around the type and level of provision of sport and physical education (PE) in schools. The Department for Education has confirmed that PE will remain a compulsory subject after the review of the National Curriculum in England.

Since the Secretary of State for Education’s October 2010 statement, calling for a new direction in school sport, there have been many significant policy changes, and the update provides a useful precis.

The next issue of Better: Evidence-based Education, published in June, takes as its theme “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds” and looks at the evidence that sport and other non-academic activities, such as yoga and programmes to address problem behaviour, can boost children’s physical and mental health and help them to learn.

Source: School Sport (2012), House of Commons Library

It’s never too late

A special issue of the Journal of Children’s Services focuses on working with children and their families to reduce the risks of crime and anti-social behaviour. One article, co-written by the IEE’s Tracey Bywater, emphasises that despite the current focus on “early intervention” in policy, programmes aimed at older children can also be effective.

The authors found that there are increasing numbers of effective programmes for children aged 9–13 that aim to reduce current or future involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour. These include school, family, and community programmes.

Source: Supporting from the start: effective programmes for nine to 13 year-olds (2006), Journal of Children’s Services, 7(1)

Success for group-based parenting programmes

A new systematic review has shown that group-based parenting programmes can improve children’s behaviour problems in the short-term, as well as developing positive parenting skills and reducing parental anxiety, stress, and depression.

The review, which was produced for the Cochrane Collaboration, also concluded that these programmes were cost-effective when compared to the long-term social, educational, and legal costs associated with childhood conduct problems. The review was based on trials involving more than 1,000 participants in total.

Source: Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting programmes for early-onset conduct problems in children aged 3 to 12 years (2012), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

What influences children in Year 9?

The Department for Education has published three new reports on the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education Project (EPPSE). EPPSE has followed around 3,000 children since 1997, when they were 3.

The latest reports look at the factors that influence Year 9 students’ social-behavioural outcomesmaths, English, and science outcomes; and a range of other measures, including enjoyment of school and anxiety.

There are many valuable findings, including, for example, that pupils who had a “positive transition” from primary school were more likely to have higher attainment in maths, English, and science. Time spent on homework was also a relatively strong predictor of better attainment and progress in all three core areas.

Source: EPPSE 3 to 14 final report from the key stage 3 phase: influences on students’ development from age 11 to 14 (2012), Department for Education.

Preventing or reducing socio-emotional problems in adolescents

Which programmes help adolescents struggling with social-emotional problems? Child Trends examined the effectiveness of 37 intervention programmes designed to prevent or treat internalising problems for adolescents (“internalising problems” are defined as problems or disorders of emotion or mood caused by difficulties regulating negative emotion).

Findings showed that programmes are most effective when they build cognitive behavioural skills (such as redirecting negative or self-defeating thoughts), build behavioural coping skills for developing healthy responses to stress, and teach social skills for improving interpersonal relationships and self-efficacy. Therapeutic approaches, such as family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and treatment-focused, school-based approaches were also shown to be effective.

Source: Research: What works to prevent or reduce internalizing problems or socio-emotional difficulties in adolescents (2012), National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center