A semi-structured, school-based intervention program developed for pre-kindergarten students seeking to improve emotional and behavioral problems and promote social skills development. The program is rated Promising. Evaluation results showed no significant differences regarding parent-rated behavioral problems or social skill, yet teacher ratings of child behavioral problems and social skills significantly improved in the intervention group.
Program Goals/Target Population
The Pre-K RECAP program focuses on improving children’s emotional and behavioral problems while promoting their social skills development. RECAP focuses on improving child behavior and cognitions, focusing specifically on social skills, affect regulation, and problem-solving. The program targeted pre-kindergarten students between ages 4 to 5.
Pre-K RECAP is a semi-structured, school-based intervention program developed as a universal intervention program for pre-kindergarten students designed to enhance children’s social skills and problem solving. The Pre-K RECAP group received: 1) a classroom behavior management system, 2) a teacher administered social skills training curriculum, 3) site-based teacher training in program administration and use of the behavior management system, and 4) group parent training conducted by a consultant. Teachers delivered the program for one academic year, and parent interviews were conducted in the fall preceding the intervention and the spring following the intervention (for data collection purposes).
The children received training in: 1) social skills, such as meeting and keeping friends, 2) affect recognition and expression, 3) re-attribution training (for hostile emotions), 4) self-monitoring and self-control skills, 5) problem-solving skills, and 6) relaxation strategies. Program activities included classroom lessons two to three times per week, yet were reinforced daily by teachers through use of positive reinforcement tokens, teacher modeling and mediation of problem-solving steps, and explicit discussion of consequences of poor behavior. The no-treatment comparison group was assessed at the same intervals but received no intervention.
Weekly site-based teacher training and bi-weekly parent group trainings were also conducted as part of the program. The parent and teacher components emphasize positive reinforcement of prosocial behavior, appropriate use of punishment, clear communication and expectations, and strengthening of adult-child relationships. The trainings specifically focused on 1) establishing clear expectations for child behavior, 2) use of positive and negative consequences to influence behaviors, 3) reinforcing children’s use of “friendly skills”, 4) assisting children to stop and think about consequences of their behavior, and 5) more effective communication between teachers and parents about children’s behavior. Parent training was administered by program consultants and was offered to parents in a group format with 16 bi-weekly sessions throughout the school year.
Teachers, parents, and program consultants are integral to the implementation of the Pre-K RECAP program. Two master’s level clinicians served as 1) the program consultant to teachers and 2) the group leader for parent groups. Consultants were trained by Susan Han and Bahr Weiss, program developers of RECAP and Pre-K RECAP programs.
The Pre-K RECAP program is a modification of the existing program, Reaching Educators, Children, and Parents (RECAP), which is a semi-structured, school-based cognitive-behavioral and social skills training program developed for elementary school children. The Pre-K version was developed because of the need for a program that provided teachers with materials to address emotional and behavioral problems of their preschool students. The use of teachers as program implementers is critical, as research suggests teachers can be an effective agent for change due to their consistent presence in the classroom and their ability to monitor prosocial development and provide children with frequent opportunities to practice new skills. The program is based on a teacher-consultation model, where teachers are supported throughout ongoing consultation and training with the program consultants.
Han and colleagues (2005) assessed the impact of the Pre-K RECAP using parent- and teacher- ratings of child behavior and social skills. Although they found no significant differences between groups regarding parent-rated behavior, some modest impacts were seen when teacher-rated outcomes were assessed.
Aggressive Behavior Described by Teachers
Researchers found no significant differences between groups regarding teacher-rated aggressive behavior.
Externalizing Problems Described by Teachers
Findings indicated that teacher-rated externalizing problem behavior improved significantly for the treatment group when compared to the comparison group.
Total Social Skills Described by Teachers
Findings revealed that teacher-rated overall social skills significantly improved for the treatment group when compared with the comparison group.
Cooperation Described by Teachers
Researchers found that teacher ratings on the cooperation subscale significantly improved for the treatment group compared with the comparison group.
Self-Control Described by Teachers
Researchers found no significant differences between groups regarding teacher ratings on the self-control subscale.
Emotionally Reactive Described by Teachers
Researchers found that teacher ratings on the emotionally reactive subscale significantly improved for the treatment group when compared to the comparison group.
Withdrawn Described by Teachers
Researchers found that teacher ratings on the withdrawn subscale significantly improved for the treatment group when compared to the comparison group.
Han and colleagues (2005) conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial, using 6 randomly selected elementary schools (with 6 classrooms per school) from low-income areas. Three schools (six classrooms) were randomly assigned to the intervention and three schools (six classrooms) were assigned to the comparison condition, and all children were eligible to participate. The final evaluation sample included 149 pre-kindergarten children (ages 4-5) from a total of 12 classrooms. The treatment group received the pre-kindergarten RECAP, which consisted of classroom lessons 2-3 times per week, while the comparison schools remained untreated.
Parents completed two questionnaires, before and after the intervention, that were used to measure child behavior: 1) the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) for ages 1.5 through 5, and 2) the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). Similarly, the other measure used to measure child behavior was teachers’ responses on 1) the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF), and 2) the teacher version of the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). All measuring instruments are previously established, standardized measures of children’s social behaviors. The data were collected from parents and teachers in the fall prior to the intervention, and in the spring post-intervention.
Baseline equivalence between groups was established for parent-rated behavioral problems, but not for teacher-rated behavioral problems. Specifically, teacher ratings of child behavioral problems were significantly higher for the treatment group than the comparison group when measured at baseline, and thus pre-treatment outcome scores were included as covariates in the analysis. Two sets of analyses were conducted: 1) using parent-rated child behavioral problems and social skills as the dependent variables, and 2) using teacher-rated child behavioral problems and social skills as the dependent variables. Analysis of covariance was used to compare groups and assess the impact of the intervention.
Parents are interviewed twice throughout the intervention for data collection purposes, for which they are compensated $20 per interview. Teachers also received $15 for each student for whom they provided data about at each assessment time point. Other resources necessary for implementation include resources to hire program consultants to train teachers and assist with implementation.
Prior to implementation, teacher should be trained on the following: 1) factors that influence child behavior, 2) how to establish effective classroom expectations and structure, 3) techniques for reinforcement of positive behavior, 4) how to use consistent, fair, and effective discipline, 5) adaptive communication skills, including home-school communication, and 6) modeling adaptive problem-solving in naturally occurring situations. Both parent and teacher training should both be administered by program consultants. For successful implementation program consultants should spend 4-6 hours per week in the classroom to provide ongoing training of teachers and assistants. Program consultants should also observe teachers and provide consultation on implementation to maintain fidelity. Consultants also received weekly individual supervision, and participated in meetings with program developers and other RECAP consultants.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)