The first five years of children’s lives play a critical role in shaping their behavioral, social and emotional development – they provide the foundation for their ability to succeed in school, at work and in life.
Children who have early behavioral and social-emotional problems are often plagued by behavioral, emotional, academic and mental health issues that follow them into adulthood.
To help prepare young children emotionally and socially for kindergarten, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation have partnered to create PEDALS: Positive Emotional Development and Learning Skills.
A two-year program, PEDALS provides early child care educators in Erie and Niagara counties with training on how to use evidence-based emotional and social curricula and assessments in their classrooms.
Each curriculum is built around a series of short lessons and interactive classroom activities that help kids develop self-control, manage emotions, evaluate situations, make healthy decisions and solve problems.
In fall 2012, the following organizations were selected to participate in the PEDALS initiative:
The Belle Center, Buffalo, NY
Bethel Head Start, Buffalo and Cheektowaga, NY
Children’s Day Out Educational Center, Buffalo, NY
Holy Cross Head Start, Buffalo and Akron, NY
Kids World Child Care Center, Getzville, NY
LaSalle Early Childhood Center, Niagara Falls, NY
Little Lambs Child Care Center, Lockport, NY
Seneca Nation of Indians Head Start, Irving, NY
In addition to training and coaching, each organization will receive funding to support effective curriculum implementation, student assessments and continuous improvement activities.
Organizations began implementing their chosen curriculum in participating pre-K classrooms in September 2012.
“By training early childhood educators to help children develop social skills, problem-solving abilities, independence and make healthy choices, our goal is to make a lasting positive impact on the social and emotional well-being of young kids and set them on the path towards life-long learning and success,” Health Foundation President Ann F. Monroe said.
“We think that the strength of PEDALS will be the use of an effective curriculum wed to a proven assessment tool, the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment. The DECA scores will chart actual improvement, validate teacher efforts and make the case for sticking with these curricula for the long term,” Tower Foundation Executive Director Tracy Sawicki said.
For more information on the PEDALS program, click here.