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'Getting Ready' Intervention Strategies Effect for Rural Families, Study Says

A relatively new program aimed at strengthening parent-child relationships to boost children's school readiness has demonstrated effectiveness with rural families, and the U.S. Department of Education has awarded researchers a $3.2 million grant to further study their effort.

The intervention, Getting Ready, was developed in 2004 by the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, and it encourages parents to interact in warm and supportive ways with their children, get involved in their learning, and support their independence.

Some aspects of the intervention include: preschool teachers visiting parents' homes to discuss developmental expectations of children; focusing parents' attention on those needs; brainstorming ways to help children meet their goals; observing parent-child interactions and providing feedback; and monitoring the child's development. Participating teachers receive extensive training and support.

A new study that's in press to be released by the Infant Mental Health Journal shows the Getting Ready strategies used with rural Early Head Start families resulted in improved parenting practices.

The 234 families who participated in the study and received Getting Ready coaching and training showed more warmth, encouraged more autonomy, and offered more appropriate guidance for their children.

Nebraska Center researchers won a $3.2 million grant to do a four-year study on whether Getting Ready can help struggling children close gaps in cognition, language skills, and social-emotional maturity as they enter preschool. About 300 children at risk for developmental delays will take part in the study, and they will come from about 75 rural and suburban preschools in Nebraska.

"Many early childhood intervention approaches target preschool classroom-based settings and focus primarily on curricular approaches to supporting outcomes for children," said research associate professor Lisa Knoche who helped develop Getting Ready, in a press release. "Few preschool intervention approaches intentionally integrate the parent-child and parent-teacher relationships as vehicles to promote positive school readiness in young children. This dual focus on multiple relationships differentiates Getting Ready from other types of early childhood interventions."

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