Improving School Readiness in Preschoolers with Behavior Problems: Results from a Summer Treatment Program

  • Paulo A. GrazianoEmail author
  • Janine Slavec
  • Katie Hart
  • Alexis Garcia
  • William E. PelhamJr.


To examine a) the feasibility of delivering a summer treatment program for pre-kindergarteners (STP-PreK) with externalizing behavior problems (EBP) and b) the extent to which the STP-PreK was effective in improving children’s school readiness outcomes. Participants for this study included 30 preschool children (77 % boys; Mean age = 5.33 years; 77 % Hispanic background) with at-risk or clinically elevated levels of EBP. The STP-PreK was held at an early education center and ran for 8-weeks (M-F, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) during the summer between preschool and kindergarten. In addition to a behavioral modification system and comprehensive school readiness curriculum, a social-emotional curriculum was also embedded within the STP-PreK to target children’s self-regulation skills (SR). Children’s pre- and post-school readiness outcomes included a standardized school readiness assessment as well as parental report of EBP, adaptive functioning, and overall readiness for kindergarten. SR skills were measured via a standardized executive functioning task, two frustration tasks, and parental report of children’s emotion regulation, and executive functioning. The STP-PreK was well received by parents as evidenced by high attendance and satisfaction ratings. Additionally, all school readiness outcomes (both parent and observational tasks) significantly improved after the intervention (Cohen’s d effect sizes ranged from 0.47 to 2.22) with all effects, except parental report of emotion regulation, being maintained at a 6-month follow-up. These findings highlight the feasibility and utility of delivering an early intervention summer program that can successfully target multiple aspects of children’s school readiness, including behavioral, social-emotional/self-regulation, and academics.


School readiness Self-regulation Externalizing behavior problems Preschool Intervention Treatment Summer 


Conflict of Interest

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Experiment Participants

The current study was conducted with the informed consent of all participants. This project was approved by the university Institutional Review Board.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was partially supported by a local grant from The Children's Trust (1329-7290) to the first author which subsidized the cost of the intervention.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo A. Graziano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janine Slavec
    • 2
  • Katie Hart
    • 1
  • Alexis Garcia
    • 1
  • William E. PelhamJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Children and Families & Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

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