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Effects of the Red Light, Purple Light Self-Regulation Intervention for Promoting School Readiness

Fri, March 22, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Hilton Baltimore, Floor: Level 2, Key 1

Integrative Statement

Introduction: Children’s school readiness (including academic and self-regulation skills) are critical for academic success (Duncan et al., 2007; McClelland et al., 2014). Considerable research has focused on interventions that facilitate the development of these skills in young children. One recent intervention, called Red Light, Purple Light (RLPL) Circle Time Games, consists of classroom-based music and movement games that are designed to foster the development of self-regulation, literacy, and math skills. In three randomized trials (RCT), the games have yielded positive effects on children’s self-regulation and academic outcomes, especially for children with elevated levels of risk (Duncan et al., 2018; Schmitt et al., 2015; Tominey & McClelland, 2011). In this study, a revised version of the RLPL intervention was used that included reading and math components (called SR+) for teachers to administer in preschool classroom settings. The effect of the SR+ condition on children’s self-regulation, literacy and math outcomes was compared to a self-regulation only condition (the original version of the RLPL games) and to a Business-as-Usual Control group (BAU). The development of the intervention included an iterative process and a pilot RCT.

Methods: Participants were 134 children from low-income backgrounds enrolled in Head Start (53% girls, 4.35 years old (SD = 0.52), 28% Spanish-speakers) randomly assigned to three conditions: SR+ (n = 53); Self-regulation (SR; n = 50); or a BAU control (n = 31). There were no significant differences at baseline for variables of interest across the three groups, but significant differences were observed when collapsing groups to either intervention or control that favored the control group (fewer Spanish-speaking children; higher self-regulation, math, and literacy). Children were assessed on math (Preschool Early Numeracy Scale [PENS]; Purpura, Reid, Eiland, & Baroody, 2015), literacy (WJ-Letter Word Identification; Woodcock & Mather, 2000), and self-regulation (Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders [HTKS]; McClelland et al., 2014).

Results: Children receiving either version of the intervention gained significantly more in math over the preschool year compared to children in the BAU control group (β = .17; p < .05; Hedges’ g = 0.43) after controlling for baseline scores, age, and being a Spanish-speaker (see Table 1). When looking at the intervention version, children in the SR+ condition experienced the greatest gains in math (β = .21, p<.05; Hedges’ g = 0.45) followed by children in the SR-only condition (β = .18, p=.10; Hedges’ g = 0.39) compared to children in the control group (see Table 2). Children in either intervention version demonstrated gains in self-regulation over the year compared to the control, but results were not statistically significant (β = .05, p>.05; Hedges’ g = 0.15). Gains in reading were not statistically different between the intervention groups and the control group.

Discussion: Results extend previous research and suggest that the RLPL intervention, which includes music and movement games incorporated in classroom settings, can improve children’s math scores over the preschool year. Embedding best practices for literacy and math in the self-regulation intervention was most effective. Results demonstrate how self-regulation games with math and literacy components can enhance children’s school readiness.


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