The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 67–91 | Cite as

Improving Young Children’s Social and Emotional Competence: A Randomized Trial of the Preschool “PATHS” Curriculum

  • Celene E. DomitrovichEmail author
  • Rebecca C. Cortes
  • Mark T. Greenberg


This paper reports the results from a randomized clinical trial evaluating an adaptation of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies curriculum (PATHS) for preschool-age children in Head Start. PATHS is a universal, teacher-taught social-emotional curriculum that is designed to improve children’s social competence and reduce problem behavior. Twenty classrooms in two Pennsylvania communities participated in the study. Teachers in the 10 intervention classrooms implemented weekly lessons and extension activities across a 9-month period. Child assessments and teacher and parent reports of child behavior assessments were collected at the beginning and end of the school year. Analysis of covariance was used to control for baseline differences between the groups and pretest scores on each of the outcome measures. The results suggest that after exposure to PATHS, intervention children had higher emotion knowledge skills and were rated by parents and teachers as more socially competent compared to peers. Further, teachers rated intervention children as less socially withdrawn at the end of the school year compared to controls.

Editors’ Strategic Implications:n Findings from this and other randomized clinical trials confirm that the Preschool PATHS program is clearly a promising practice for improving children’s social and emotional competence. Head Start and school programs will find these multi-informant data to be of interest as they consider a curriculum to help prepare children for school entry.


preschool-age children head start prevention social-emotional competence 



This project was supported by a Head Start/University Partnership Grant (#90YD0063) awarded to the third author by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We would like to thank the administration and teaching staff of the Lycoming-Clinton Head Start and Capital Area Head Start programs for collaborating with us on this project and in particular, acknowledge the tremendous support and dedication of Anne Doerr, Shahanaz Mondamipour, Vickie Dodds, Alison Rosen, and Romayne Turner.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Celene E. Domitrovich
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Rebecca C. Cortes
    • 2
  • Mark T. Greenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Prevention Research CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research GroupSchool of Social Work, University of WashingtonWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.The Pennsylvania State UniversityPrevention Research CenterUniversity ParkUSA

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