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“Anos Incríveis” – Portuguese researchers at the University of Coimbra share their findings delivering the Incredible Years Parent and Teacher Programs

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Full group at Conference

Carolyn Webster-Stratton recently attended and presented at a conference, held at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, “Prevention and early intervention for behavioral disorders in preschool children: the effectiveness of parenting programs and school-based evidence.” Portuguese researchers at the University shared their findings delivering the Incredible Years Parent and Teacher Programs.

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The University of Coimbra is a public university, established in 1290. It is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world and currently has around 20,000 students and hosts many international students. While there, Dr. Webster-Stratton felt she had been transported to Hogwarts, especially when she viewed the students’ robes and the gorgeous location.

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Carolyn and one of the university students

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Prior to being a University, this building was the Royal Palace (for four centuries!). The first of all the royal residences in Portugal, the Palace was inhabited by monarchs between the 12th and 15th centuries. In 2013, UNESCO added the university as a World Heritage site based on its architectural and artistic heritage.

While at the conference, Dr. Webster-Stratton had a chance to find out what was happening in the Psychology and Education departments at the University. She met a dynamic team of people who are delivering the Incredible Years programs with different populations.  She was impressed with their commitment to quality delivery of the programs as prevention programs as well as treatment programs for children with ADHD and conduct problems, and with their dedication to evaluating their results.


TV local news interviews Carolyn and the two Portuguese researchers who brought the program to Portugal.
(some of this is in English and some in Portuguese language ~ take a look at the beautiful university)

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Carolyn with Maria João (L) and Maria Filomena (R)

Consultation Day:  Carolyn began her visit with a group leader consultation day that was co-led with  Maria Filomena and Maria João, two psychology professors completing their Incredible Years mentor training. There were 11 participants attending who showed 6 different DVDs of their parent group work.  These clinicians had previously delivered any where from 2 to 7, 14-week groups.  The day began with three psychiatrists presenting 2 DVDs of their work delivering the parent program in the psychiatry department at the Realidade Hospital in Porto. The next two psychologists presented their delivery of the IY parenting program with residential care workers. The remaining psychologists showed their group session DVDs with parents of children with ADHD and ODD. It was a packed agenda with participants having carefully determined their goals and segments of video they wanted to show for feedback. The group was very open to feedback and readily engaged in practices and shared ideas for helping support parents’ learning and confidence in their parenting approaches.

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Carolyn with two Doctoral students, Sara Leitao (left) and Mariana Pimente (right)

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Carolyn with Tatiana Homem (left) and Andreia Azevedo (right)

Conference Day: This was a truly amazing and packed day that started at 10 am and went overtime until 7:30 pm with most people staying until the conclusion.  There were approximately 180+ participants with 50 of these being parents who had participated in IY parent groups. Additionally there were at least as many teachers participating as well as psychologists. There was a great deal of excitement as people greeted each other.  In addition to Carolyn’s two presentations there were 8 other presentations of research that has been conducted with the Incredible Years parent and the teacher programs. All outcomes are looking very promising with improvements in parenting and teacher practices as well as reductions in children’s behavior problems.  Drop outs are low and satisfaction reports very positive.  Research with the families of children with ADHD has recently been accepted for publication.

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Carolyn with Vera Maria Silverio do Vale, who did her research with Teacher Classroom Management, and a teacher with a turtle shell

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Carolyn with two psychiatrists, João Guerra and Vânia Martins

It certainly appears that this very energetic and collaborative team have successfully transported the Incredible Years Programs to Portugal.  They have accomplished a great deal and even Wally Problem Solver and Dina Dinosaur have learned to speak Portuguese!

~Guest post written by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

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Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Toddlers

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Written by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D

Toddlers have a wide range in attention span that will vary by the moment daily. When reading with your toddler, don’t worry if she/he seems restless and gets off your lap. Keep reading. If your toddler seems more interested in another activity, wait and try to read again later.

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c_blockComment and describe objects, colors, body parts, emotions, and actions of pictures in books. Talk about the pictures in your native language while you point to the pictures and/or make up stories.  Take turns interacting and let your child turn the pages and point to pictures while you name them.  If your child doesn’t have much language yet, remember toddlers understand much more than they can speak. Mirror and imitate the sounds your child makes and use simple words to describe objects. Read for a few minutes at times when your toddler seems calm and alert.

a_blockAsk  a few open-ended questions and explore the book together.
You might try asking a few mom_girl_rdgopen-ended questions to see if your child will talk about their ideas. For example, you might say, “I wonder what will happen next?”  Or, ” Do you think he is  proud of doing that?” However, avoid asking too many questions or your child will think you are testing her/him and will close up if she/he doesn’t know how to answer the question. Rather ask questions that show you are genuinely interested in your child’s thoughts and intersperse them with descriptive commenting.

Examples:

Parent: “What do you see on this page?” (Toddler points to a truck)
Parent: “Yes that is a big, blue truck.”
Parent: “What’s happening here?” (Parent points to a picture)
Parent: “That is a yellow bus.”
Parent: “I wonder if there are two trucks?” (Prompting a pre-academic skill & child points to another truck)
Parent: “You are right, there is a blue and a black truck.”
Parent: “I wonder if she is feeling sad now?” (Exploring the name of feelings)
Parent: “What is going to happen next?” (Creating a feeling of excitement and discovery )

r_blockRespond with smiles, encouragement, praise and expressive delight to your toddler’s efforts to respond. Follow your child’s lead and empower his or her discovery and exploration of the book.  Use hand movements with your words. Slide your finger under the words or letters on the page and show left to right movement.parentese_graphic

Read using “parentese” language which sounds like this:

  • sing-song, higher pitched, slower voice
  • clear articulation
  • pauses after reading some words to wait for a response
  • repeat words often

Examples:

“Wow that is a tall giraffe.”
“You are really thinking hard about that.”
“Wow, you know a lot about trains.”
“That’s awesome. You are learning about the names of so many animals and what they eat.”

e_blockExpand on what your toddler says. You can expand by adding a new word or similar word to what he or she is saying or by reminding them of a personal experience or event in their life that is similar to the story in the book.

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Examples:

“Yes, I think he’s feeling excited too, and he might be a little scared as well.”
“Yes, it is horse; it’s also called a mare.”
“Yes, that boy is going to the park. Do you remember going to the park with grandma?”

REMEMBER

• Read in a quiet place; turn off any competing noises such as TV, stereo, radio or computer. Even the phone should be turned off during this time.

• Allow your child to select the book from his/her favorites. Read books that reflect your toddler’s experiences such as taking a bath, getting ready for bed, or riding a tricycle or dressing in the morning.

• Hold your toddler in a comfortable position on your lap or if he/she is wiggly, allow him/her to read lying down or standing up.

• Allow children to re-read the same books as often as they wish. This is a pre-reading skill and leads to memorization of the story.

• Read to children every day and allow them to see you reading.

• Offer a variety of books such as folk tales, poems, informational books, fantasy, fables and adventure stories.

• Involve siblings and grandparents in reading to your toddler in their language.

For more information, see the Incredible Years Toddler program, as well as the book Incredible Toddlers: A Guide and Journal of Your Toddler’s Discoveries.

Content of this blog ©The Incredible Years®


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Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Babies

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Written by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

Did you know that there is a connection between how much you talk to your baby and his or her later reading abilities and school success?

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Studies (e.g., Hart & Risley) have shown that by 18 months, children from low-income families hear significantly fewer words in their homes than children from higher income families. One recent study from Stanford University showed that by their 3rd year, low-income children have heard 30 million fewer words than higher income children (full article can be found here). If this language exposure gap continues, by the time these children get to kindergarten they will need remediation because they are already far behind in the language and school readiness skills needed for school success. Since early vocabulary is connected to later success in reading comprehension, this language gap presents a barrier to these children’s future academic learning achievement. It was also found that TV talk not only didn’t help, but it was a barrier.

Often these parents just don’t know that it is important to talk more to their babies. The good news is that randomized control group studies show that programs such as the Incredible Years® Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Parent Series result in improvements in children’s social and emotional language skills and school readiness.  It has been shown that low income parents can successfully learn to focus their attention and learn to talk more to their babies and children using descriptive commenting, persistence, and social and emotion coaching language during child-directed play and reading interactions.

See these studies:

Preventing Conduct Problems and Improving School Readiness: Evaluation of the Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in High-Risk Schools

Preventing Conduct Problems, Promoting Social Competence: A Parent and Teacher Training Partnership in Head Start

Halting the Development of Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: The Effects of Parent Training

Here are some tips to building your baby’s language vocabulary through reading interactions. This is not about flash cards, use of Ipads or computers, or memorization of words. Rather it is about loving, child-directed conversations while reading books, playing with your child, or engaging in everyday routines. And yes, you must turn off your mobile phone 🙂

Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Babies

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c_blockComment, point to and describe objects, colors, emotions, sounds and actions of pictures in touch-and-feel books. You don’t need to read the actual words in the book, just point to and talk about the pictures using your native language.  For example, “Teddy’s nose is yellow. Baby is hungry. The train is slowing down.” Allow your baby to touch the book and even to put it in his/her mouth.

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a_blockAct enthusiastic using physical dramatizations and sound effect.  For example, “that is a bird, he goes chirp chirp.” (Use your hands to make a chirp sign). Use a melodious voice varying the pace, phrasing, voice rhythm and pitch of your words.  Pause between sounds or vocalizations to allow your baby to respond.

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Respond with smiles, encouragement, eye contact, cuddling and delight to your baby’s smiles, body signals and pointing movements; follow what your baby is looking at and be child-directed in what you respond to.

 

e_blockExpand on your baby’s sounds.  If your baby says a syllable such as “la la” or “da da,” mirror or repeat the sound. Or, if your baby says “ball,” repeat the word and add a descriptor such as the color or shape of the ball.  “Yes, that’s a big, red ball!” If you have other children, read what they like while you are holding your baby. Let them read to your baby and imitate your baby’s sounds. Start reading at any page and make up your own stories or sing while you are looking at the book.

Remember:

• Be sure your baby’s head is supported and you are both sitting in a comfortable chair.  You might use a pillow or a sling to support your baby so that your hands are free.

• Read in a quiet place. Turn off any competing noises such as TV, stereo, or radio; this will also prevent overstimulation or stress.

•  There will be variability in individual baby’s interest in books, so don’t worry if your baby does not seem intently interested or starts crying.  Respond to your baby’s cues.  If (s)he seems fussy or uninterested in the book, try changing your tone or reading a different book.  If these new strategies do not engage him/her, then stop trying to read, and do another soothing activity with your baby. Try again later.

For more information, see the Incredible Years® Parents and Babies Program, and the book, Incredible Babies: Ways to Promote Your Baby’s Social, Emotional and Language Development by Carolyn Webster-Stratton.

Next week, we will bring you part 2 of this 3 part series: Reading with CARE for Toddlers.

References

Hart, Betty & Risley, Todd R.American parenting of language-learning children: Persisting differences in family-child interactions observed in natural home environments. Developmental Psychology, Vol 28(6), Nov 1992, 1096-1105. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.28.6.1096
Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2013), SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16: 234–248. doi: 10.1111/desc.12019
Reid, J. M., Webster-Stratton, C., Baydar, N. 2004. Halting the Development of Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: The Effects of Parent Training. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Vol.33(2) 279-291.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., University of WA, & Stoolmiller, M. 2008. Preventing Conduct Problems and Improving School Readiness: Evaluation of The Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in High-Risk Schools. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 49 (5), 471-488.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J. & Hammond, M. School of Nursing, University of Washington. Preventing Conduct Problems, Promoting Social Competence: A Parent and Teacher Training Partnership in Head Start. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology. Copyright 2001 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Content of this blog ©The Incredible Years®


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Young Children’s Vocabulary Skills Predicted by Economic Factors (Follow up)

Hello friends!

Earlier this week we shared a guest post from Peter Loft, Certified Incredible Years Trainer. Mr. Loft discussed his response to an article in the NY Times which asserted the value of early childhood education in connection to reducing economic inequality, poverty, and crime.

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For those interested in this topic, we would like to share some further reading. Motoko Rich wrote an article just a few days prior to Kristoff’s article, titled “Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K.”

This article examines new research from Anne Fernald, who found that young children from affluent families had far more advanced vocabularies than those from economically disadvantaged families. This gap began in children as young as 18 months old.

These studies and recent articles highlight the importance of early education and verbal interaction with very young children. Next week, we will begin a series of three guest posts from Incredible Years developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton. This series will provide in depth discussion and tips for reading with young children at various developmental stages (babies, toddlers, and preschool).

Stay tuned!

~The Incredible Years Team

 

Reference

Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2013), SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16: 234–248. doi: 10.1111/desc.12019


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Guest Blog: IY Trainer response to NY Times Article on Early Education

We are excited to have Peter Loft, Incredible Years Certified Trainer, guest blogging for us today! Peter provides a response to an article published in the New York Times (October 27th) which discusses the importance of early childhood education as a means to address economic inequality, poverty and crime in the United States.

Response to “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?” (written by Nicolas Kristof)

By: Peter Loft, MSW

peter_wallyPeter Loft, with Wally

New York Times’ Op-Ed article, “Do we Invest in Preschools or Prisons?” by Nicolas Kristoff (published Sunday, Oct. 27th, 2013) is a good read.  He makes a compelling case for early child education, and emphasizes actually working with families much younger than preschool is the way to go!  He also refers to the ground breaking research by Hart and Risley, on the importance of verbal interaction with adults for young children, as having  a significant correlation towards better academic outcomes and life skills over time. For those interested in learning more about Hart & Risley’s research, you can click here for the original article (published 1968) or you can view a more recent article which was published online earlier this year.

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I reflect back on 20 years of Incredible Years and love the fact that all of our programs include a huge emphasis on dialogic reading in age appropriate ways, and descriptive commenting focusing on academic, persistence, social and emotional competence. It is a great reminder to us all that the simple ongoing strategies are often some of the most powerful ones we can offer to families, teachers, and caregivers everywhere.