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Promoting Academic and Social-Emotional School Readiness: The Head Start REDI Program


  • This project was supported as part of the Interagency School Readiness Consortium by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants HD046064 and HD43763. We express deep gratitude to Gloria Rhule, Harriet Darling, and Julia Gest for the extensive contributions they made to intervention development and implementation. In addition, appreciation is expressed to the teachers, students, parents, and program personnel who served as partners in this project in the Huntingdon, Blair, and York County Head Start programs of Pennsylvania.

concerning this article should be addressed to Karen L. Bierman, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Psychology, 251 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802. Electronic mail may be sent to


Forty-four Head Start classrooms were randomly assigned to enriched intervention (Head Start REDI—Research-based, Developmentally Informed) or “usual practice” conditions. The intervention involved brief lessons, “hands-on” extension activities, and specific teaching strategies linked empirically with the promotion of: (a) social-emotional competencies and (b) language development and emergent literacy skills. Take-home materials were provided to parents to enhance skill development at home. Multimethod assessments of three hundred and fifty-six 4-year-old children tracked their progress over the course of the 1-year program. Results revealed significant differences favoring children in the enriched intervention classrooms on measures of vocabulary, emergent literacy, emotional understanding, social problem solving, social behavior, and learning engagement. Implications are discussed for developmental models of school readiness and for early educational programs and policies.