A Pilot Study of Strong Start: Preliminary Evidence of Feasibility and Efficacy of Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool
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Social and emotional competencies have received increased attention as important components of school readiness for young children. Universal programs incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) instruction for all preschool students are needed given the relation between social and emotional competencies in early childhood and later developmental outcomes. The Strong Start: Pre-K program is a low-cost, developmentally tailored educational curriculum targeting important social and emotional knowledge and skills. Although this program is part of an evidence-based SEL curriculum (Strong Kids), the preschool component lacks empirical investigation. This pilot study used a single group pre-post within-subjects design to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of implementation of Strong Start: Pre-K and the impact of the curriculum on social and emotional knowledge and skills of 39 students in two preschool classrooms. Feasibility and acceptability were evaluated through descriptive data on social validity and treatment integrity. In addition, preliminary evidence of effects was established through analysis of observed child and teacher behavior. Results suggest that teachers and students find the Strong Start: Pre-K curriculum to be highly acceptable and that teachers are able to implement the curriculum with moderate to high levels of fidelity with limited training. Preliminary evidence of effects suggests that children who participated in the Strong Start: Pre-K curriculum demonstrated increases in social and emotional strengths and resiliencies as well as increases in social and emotional knowledge following exposure to the Strong Start: Pre-K curriculum. Direct observations of child behavior also demonstrated increases in pro-social behavior and decreases in disruptive behavior.