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A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Podcast: Focusing on Social-Emotional Development in PreK-3rd Graders

Published:  March 19, 2012
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See our archive of more than two dozen podcasts with education thought leaders around the country.

Ensuring that children receive a good education throughout their early years, from pre-kindergarten through third grade, is not just about helping them achieve academically.  It also means providing kids with teachers who can help them grow socially and emotionally year after year. Last month, the Erikson Institute in Chicago held a forum on High-Quality PreK-3rd in the Age of the Common Core that included a focus on this point.  A presentation by C. Cybele Raver, director of the Institute of Human Development and Social Change, highlighted the positive impact of teaching pre-K children how to regulate their emotions and share with their peers -- as well as the less-impressive results that derive when those strategies aren't continued in elementary school.

In this podcast, we talk with Raver about her research on the Chicago School Readiness Project, which is tracking outcomes for children who attended Head Start centers in seven high-poverty areas of the city.  The research so far shows that when teachers are given training on how to help children regulate their emotions and develop their social skills, children exhibit fewer behavior problems and have better self-regulation and attention skills than those in similar classrooms without trained teachers.

Those differences in behavior among the CSRP kids, however, do not appear to continue into the elementary school years if children do not attend schools in which teachers can attend to their developmental needs, Raver said. The social-emotional training program used in the CSRP was only for Head Start teachers, not for teachers in the public schools. After children turned 5, they were enrolled in some kindergarten classrooms that Raver described as "chaotic, large and less supportive" of children's social-emotional growth. In those cases, many gains that showed up at age 4 were no longer apparent in those children after kindergarten. "It takes prolonged and sustained investments in children’s emotional and behavioral development," said Raver, who is tracking outcomes through the fourth and fifth grades. "We can’t keep our foot on the gas pedal for one year and then pull it off again.”

Early Ed Watch podcast – March 20, 2012

Focusing on Social-Emotional Development in PreK-3rd Graders

With our guest C. Cybele Raver, professor of applied psychology, New York University and director, Institute of Human Development and Social Change


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