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Improving Head Start Teachers’ Ability to Promote Children’s Social-emotional Development

Photo of Head Start teacher instructing six children in a classroom.By Ann C. Rivera, Ph.D., Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

In one academic year, teachers in 104 Head Start centers and 307 classrooms across the country increased their use of evidence-based practices in support of children’s social-emotional development. These improvements in teacher practice resulted from the large-scale implementation of three preschool enhancements tested as part of the Head Start CARES (Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill promotion) Demonstration.

A new report evaluates the extent to which the demonstration successfully scaled-up the three program enhancements: The Incredible Years Teacher Training Program (IY), Preschool PATHS (PATHS), and Tools of the Mind – Play (TOOLS).

Each enhancement improved the specific teacher practices that it emphasized:

  • IY improved teachers’ classroom management climate
  • PATHS bolstered teachers’ social and emotional instruction
  • TOOLS increased teachers’ support of interactions and play

Each of the enhancements used a similar model of professional development — teacher training, curriculum-focused coaching, and related supports — to support teachers in delivering the enhancements as intended.

For additional information on the demonstration’s implementation and the teacher practice findings, visit the resources of ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation and the contractor for this project, MDRC.

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