Al’s Pals Kids Making Healthy Choices

Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral


Date Submitted: 09/08/2021


Contact Information:

Amber Cuyler

Program Manager

580-659-6999

acuyler@gpccrr.org

Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral

901 South Broadway, Hobart, OK 73651


Rating Category: Promising Research

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning


Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrators, Parents


Goals and Outcomes:

Young children need social–emotional learning now more than ever. In addition to common and adverse childhood events that can result in trauma, young children are now also experiencing pandemic related stress. That stress, combined with school and childcare closures, has magnified concerns for children who have experienced trauma, especially our most vulnerable children, and elevated the importance of providing all young children with positive social–emotional skills to prepare for life’s challenges.


Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the critical foundation required for all other learning and development to occur and is associated with later academic and social functioning. Preschoolers need SEL curricula that is designed to meet their specific needs. Meta-analysis demonstrated that preschool children benefit from SEL interventions in different contexts, particularly those who were identified as being in need of early intervention. Moreover, best practices for preschool SEL interventions may differ from best practices for K–12 students, given the developmental uniqueness of the preschool years. (Murano, Sawyer & Lipnevich, 2020)


Teaching Strategies has been committed to social-emotional learning for our youngest learners for more than 40 years. We now also offer a nationally recognized and evidence-based comprehensive social–emotional learning curriculum and professional development program designed to meet the specific needs of preschool children.


Al’s Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices promotes protective factors, fosters the personal traits of resiliency, encourages the nurturing environments that children need to overcome difficulties and fully develop their talents and capabilities, and helps lessens the effects of adverse childhood events and trauma. Al’s Pals promotes protective factors that have been shown to lessen the long-term effects of trauma by providing young children with skills to prepare for life’s challenges through interactive lessons, engaging puppets, original music, and impactful teaching approaches. Al's Pals also develops teachers who cultivate deeper relationships with children, creates nurturing classrooms, reinforces core concepts at home with families, and fosters positive peer relationships resulting in a network that works together to build resilient children who have a place in their community and the world.


Brief Summary of Target Population and Issues/Challenges:

Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices is a nationally recognized, top-rated, evidence-based and research-informed comprehensive social–emotional learning (SEL) classroom curriculum and professional development program. It promotes resiliency in children ages 3-6 through the development of social–emotional skills, self-control, problem-solving abilities, and healthy decision-making. Al’s Pals promotes protective factors, fosters the personal traits of resiliency, and encourages nurturing environments needed for children to overcome difficulties and fully develop their talents and capabilities. The curriculum helps lessen the effects of adverse childhood events and trauma.


The 46 interactive lessons use guided creative play, brainstorming, puppetry, original music, and movement to develop children’s social-emotional competence and life skills. Al’s Pals teaches children how to:

• Express feelings appropriately; use kind words

• Care about others

• Think independently

• Accept differences; make friends

• Solve problems peacefully; use self-control

• Cope

• Make safe and healthy choices

• Understand that tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs are not for children.


Al’s Pals was originally designed for and piloted with preschool children considered to be at risk due to poverty and other factors. The program was initially piloted in Head Start and other community-based child development centers whose populations primarily included Black/African American and White children. Since the initial pilot, the program has been expanded and found to be effective with children of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Al’s Pals has been proven to work in preschools, early elementary school grades, after-school programs, and child care centers.


Rated by another Clearinghouse: No


Conducted Research:

Al's Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices is a research-informed, evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum that has been thoroughly analyzed and evaluated. Two large experimental studies are listed below and available at Young Children Need Resiliency Now, More Than Ever.


1. Multi-Year Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Resilience-Based Prevention Program for Young Children by Kathleen Bodisch Lynch, Susan Rose Geller, and Melinda G. Schmidt (Findings of this study were published in The Journal of Primary Prevention)


2. Highlights of Findings of the Al's Pals Intervention - Hampton City Public Schools Evaluation, Hampton Virginia by Kathleen Bodisch Lynch and Kasey McCracken


Researchers analyzed the data and below is a summary of their conclusions:

  1. Children at risk make 4 to 5 times the amount of progress/growth than those identified as not at risk.

  2. Children who participate in Al’s Pals are 2 to 5 times more likely to improve their use of positive social behaviors than children who do not participate. Positive social behaviors include sharing, taking turns, using self-control, helping others, and using words to solve problems.

  3. Children who participate in Al’s Pals are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to improve their use of positive classroom coping skills than children who do not participate. Examples of positive classroom coping skills include talking about a problem with a friend or teacher or asking for help to solve a problem.

  4. Children who do not participate in Al’s Pals are 2 to 6 times more likely to increase their use of antisocial and aggressive behaviors than children in Al’s Pals. Antisocial/aggressive behavior includes hitting, kicking, name-calling, bullying and destroying others’ belongings.


Furnished below, are three (3) school districts where Al's Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices have been implemented and where social emotional learning professional learning services have been provided:

  1. Algoma District School Board 644 Albert Street, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada P6A 2K7 Blythe Servant, Principal and Early Years Coordinator 705-945-7111 ext. 10278 servanb@adsb.on.ca Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices Training was provided on June 15, 17, 19 and 22, 2020.

  2. Independence School District 201 N. Forest Ave. Independence, MO 64050 Lisa Swaney Content Lead of Student Supports Mental Health/Disabilities 816-521-5526 ext. 26028 lisa_swaney@isdschools.org Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices Training was provided on November 3, 2020/ January 4, 2021/ February 12, 2021/ April 5, 2021

  3. Richmond Public Schools 2120 Fendall Avenue, Richmond, VA 23222 Natalie Mead, Child Development Specialist 804-780-7794 nmead@rvaschools.net Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices Training was provided on November 13-14, 2019.


Relevant Published Articles with brief summary:

Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool: Programs and Practices that Work

This issue brief, created by The Pennsylvania State University with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is one of a series of briefs that addresses the need for research, practice and policy on social and emotional learning (SEL).


Prevention Programs for the Development of Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool Years

In this study, available prevention programs for the development of social-emotional learning in preschool years were examined. The five prevention programs titled as Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices, DARE to be You, High/Scope Perry Preschool Program, Second Step, and Zippy's Friends were handled. The aims, contents, and effects of these programs were reviewed. The results of the review showed that Al's Pals is a resiliency-based prevention program to risk factors such as violence and poverty, DARE to be You is a resiliency-based intervention program to later substance abuse while High/Scope Perry Preschool Program is an intervention program to abstain from school failure and other related problems. It was also revealed that Second Step is a violence-prevention program, and Zippy's Friends is a suicide prevention program. It was found that all of these programs are valid and effective in improving behaviors that negatively affect social-emotional learning of preschool children. It is clear that these programs can be used by proficient teachers and educators to support children's social emotional learning skills as well as main objectives of the programs regarding prevention.


Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Preschool Education: A Review of Programs

This paper compares four selected social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula that have empirical support for preschool students (Preschools PATHS, Incredible Years, Al’s Pals, and Preschool RULER). First, meta-analytic studies of SEL programs in schools and research on emotional intelligence (EI) of preschool children are reviewed as a background for understanding the four programs. Preschool EI research is examined as it relates to outcome variables such as school engagement, social adjustment, emotion regulation and academics. The programs are critiqued and compared on the particular SEL areas of focus, context of delivery, structure of delivery, and intervention strategies. Research on cross cultural adaptation of programs is also examined. Areas for future directions in EI preschool curricula research are identified.


Full article attached with submission:

Lynch, K.B., Geller, S.R. & Schmidt, M.G. Multi-Year Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Resilience-Based Prevention Program for Young Children. The Journal of Primary Prevention 24, 335–353 (2004).

This article describes the results of a multi-year, multi-state evaluation of the effectiveness of an early childhood prevention initiative that translates resilience research into practice. Targeted to children in preschool through the early elementary grades, the intervention comprises teacher training, a year-long classroom curriculum, original materials and music, and a companion parent education program. The evaluation methodology evolved from pre-experimental to true experimental design and encompassed multiple program replications. Child outcome data indicate that the intervention is effective in both: (a) strengthening children’s social-emotional competence and positive coping skills and (b) suppressing the development of antisocial, aggressive behavior. The systematic process and outcome evaluation of this prevention initiative fills a gap by providing hard evidence of the effectiveness of a developmentally appropriate, research-based intervention for young children.


Promote Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging:

Through fun lessons, engaging puppets, original music, and effective teaching approaches, Al’s Pals helps young children embrace equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging by:

• Regulate their own feelings and behavior, allowing educators more time for creative teaching by reducing the need for discipline;

• Create and maintain classroom environments that focus on caring, cooperation, respect, empathy, and responsibility;

• Acquire conflict resolution and peaceful problem-solving skills;

• Appreciate differences and promote adaptability and positive social relationships; and

• Develop their ability to make healthy choices and cope with life's difficulties

Furthermore, Al's Pals:

• Fosters children's autonomy with specific focus on self-control, independence, self-discipline, and self-esteem;

• Prevents and addresses bullying behavior;

• Conveys clear messages about the harms of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs;

• Advances equity by establishing trusting and collaborative learning environments while promoting children’s understanding of differences;

• Strengthens family connections and relationships with resources that reinforce concepts of resiliency at home and are available in both English and Spanish

• Supports a teacher’s ability to build relationships with children and to create more nurturing, safer environments for their healthy development;

• Provides accessible, meaningful lessons to facilitate large group experiences designed specifically for early childhood (ages 3-6) that are easy to implement with ample materials, instructions, puppet scripts, songs, and notes for teachers; and

• Incorporates friendly puppets and puppet scripts for children to learn and grow — puppet use has been shown to have an impact on improving behavior problems among preschool children.


(Great Plains equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging)

The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL)Social and Emotional Preschool Curriculum Consumer Report publication shows evidence that Al's Pals Curriculum is culturally and linguistically responsive.


Al's Pals Alignment Document


Head Start Outcome Indicator: Begins to develop and express awareness of self in terms of specific abilities, characteristics and preferences. Al's Pals Content Area: Identification and Expression of Feelings, Positive Relationships and Brainstorming.


Head Start Outcome Indicator: Progresses in understanding similarities and respecting differences among people, such as genders, race, special needs, culture, language, and family structures.


Al's Pals Content Area: Identification and Expression of Feelings, Positive Relationships, Communication and Brainstorming.


Implementation:

Al’s Pals is one of the only SEL curricula that has been investigated using rigorous research methodologies and found to have positive impacts on social–emotional competence and coping skills. Sequential, well-designed lessons are to be facilitated twice a week for approximately 20 minutes. These lessons build on each other and cover a full academic year in scope and sequence. The Al’s Pals lessons and teaching approaches that address feelings, positive relationships, impulse control, brainstorming, safe and healthy choices, and problem-solving help teachers create classrooms that build trust, foster independence, encourage self-control, and support positive social behavior outcomes in children.


Implementation in Oklahoma

Goal: To increase the protective factors of social emotional (SE) competence in rural Southwest (SW) Oklahoma's young children so that they enter school with the emotional and behavioral skills associated with positive adaptive functioning in the school setting.


Outcome: Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral will partner with Teaching Strategies to provide Al's Pals SEL 2-day training & curriculum kits to child care providers in the 210 licensed child care center & FCCH programs in rural SW Oklahoma. Each child care program will have the opportunity to send 1 staff member to an all-inclusive 2-day training in Lawton, Oklahoma. Once trained, child care providers will begin using the acquired knowledge and curriculum kit to implement the Al's Pals SEL curriculum in their programs. Al’s Pals curriculum features 46 core lessons that capture real-life childhood experiences and provide opportunities for the children to acquire and practice social and emotional skills daily. The child care provider will deliver short lessons twice a week over a 23-week period. Children are engaged through a wide range of teaching tools including scripted puppet-led discussions, guided creative play, original songs, posters, color photographs, message pads and books. Through the lessons, children will learn and practice positive ways to express feelings, relate to others, communicate, brainstorm ideas and solve problems. By reinforcing the Al's Pals concepts throughout the day, the child care provider shapes a caring environment, encourages independent thinking, use of self-control, healthy decision-making, and peaceful problem solving. Outcomes will include increased protective factors of social emotional (SE) competence, self-regulation, thinking abilities and language skills along with increased competency of interpersonal skills such as getting along with others, sharing, cooperating, taking turns, and intrapersonal skills such as emotion regulation and cognitive control and increased school readiness for the young children of rural SW Oklahoma. To ensure the fidelity of program implementation the use of Al's Pals tool, the Implementation Monitoring & Observation Form, along with on-going coaching and technical assistance will be provided by Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral Child staff.


Many children enter school unprepared for social-emotional and behavioral demands. Children growing up in poverty are particularly likely to show delays in the social-emotional and self-regulation skills needed for school success, due in part to their heightened levels of stress and low levels of early learning support. Not only do these delays in SE development impede learning, they also increase the risk for behavior problems and discipline difficulties in preschool and contribute to elevated rates of preschool suspension and expulsion. Almost half of preschool children are growing up in low-income families, creating a critical need to support SE development in preschool programs.


To increase the protective factors of social emotional competence and promote school readiness, child care providers need to focus strategically and intentionally on the social emotional development of the young children in their care. Al’s Pals is a nationally recognized, comprehensive, evidence-based SEL curriculum that teaches young children social-emotional skill building within the context of a caring adult-child relationship. The Al’s Pals curriculum is accompanied by a 2-day training which builds child care providers' abilities to relate to children in positive ways and create a caring, cooperative classroom environment. The combined training and curriculum kit provide an effective framework for providers to establish nurturing relationships while developing children’s social competence. Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral (GPCCRR) hopes to partner with Teaching Strategies to provide the Al's Pals SEL training & curriculum kits to every licensed child care center and family child care home program in rural Southwest Oklahoma, resulting in increased protective factors of social emotional competence and school readiness for the young children in their care. Although, this particular proposal focuses on program implementation in Southwest Oklahoma, the project could easily be replicated in other CCR&R regions throughout the state. Because 100% of licensed child care programs would have the opportunity to participate, cost beyond the initial 2- year project would be minimal.


Reference: Bierman, K.L., Greenberg, M.T., Abenavoli, R. (2016). Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool: Programs and Practices that Work, Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University


To ensure the fidelity of program implementation the use of Al's Pals tool: The Implementation Monitoring & Observation Form, along with on-going coaching and technical assistance will be provided by Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral Child staff.


To measure program success, pre and post outcome data will be collected by the child care provider using an observation-based assessment tool designed specifically for this project. Assessment tool would be created using the Al's Pals alignment document and be primarily influenced by the Head Start Outcome Indicators.


Recommend that opportunity be extended to child care providers statewide. Every region of the state has a Child Care Resource & Referral program. CCR&R programs across the state could also partner with Teaching Strategies to offer the Al's Pals SEL training & curriculum kits in their area.


Al’s Pals, a comprehensive SEL curriculum designed for the specific needs of preschool children, is available for purchase exclusively through Teaching Strategies.


What’s Included in the Al’s Pals Program?

Teacher Plans

  • 46 lessons that facilitate large-group interactive discussions and problem-solving experiences

  • Puppet Scripts and Helpful Hints

Classroom Materials

  • 3 puppets

  • 38 diverse photos representing themes directly related to core concept of the lesson

  • 2 classroom posters

  • 2 children’s books

Songs and Songbook

  • 12 songs that reinforce lessons and core concepts

  • Songbook of repetitive, easy words for children to sing

Family-Facing Content

  • 8 recognition certificates,

  • 14 family letters, and 1 completion certificate

Family-friendly language in both English and Spanish

Professional Development

  • 2-day implementation and ongoing face-to-face or virtual offerings

Interactive offerings tailored to the specific needs of a program, including overviews of characteristics of resilient children and strategies for nurturing resiliency in children.


Informational Flyer


Contact at Teaching Strategies:

Pierina Risco

Early Learning Solutions Specialist

Teaching Strategies, LLC

P.301.276.5413

Pierina.r@teachingstrategies.com

Total project cost: $315,000

Cost per child care provider: $1,500

Expenses:

  • (210) Al's Pals Curriculum Kits: $168,000

  • (7) In-person two-day Trainings: $42,000

  • *same training 7 times over 18mo-2year time-frame due to max of 30 participants per 2-day training.

  • (7) Training Venue: $27,500

  • (210) two-night Hotel for Participants: $52,500

  • 2 Snacks & 5 Meals for Participants: $25,000


Teaching Strategies Al's Pals Comprehensive SEL Curriculum is nationally recognized, evidencebased and has the following ratings and designations:

  • Designated CASEL SELect Program

  • Rated highest level of Evidence of Effectiveness in the Social-Emotional Preschool Curriculum

  • Consumer Report by The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning

  • Designated Model Program by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the

  • US Department of Health and Human Services Administration

  • Designated Effective School Based Prevention Program by The Department of Education


Evaluation Plan:

Al's Pals' skill-building, collaborative professional development helps teachers create more nurturing, safer environments for children. These in-depth, transformative sessions promote deeper thinking around resiliency, foster skills that helps teachers build deeper relationships with children, and strengthen collegial relationships. The PD encourages teachers to self-reflect on their own biases and temperament, while reflecting on and transforming their approach to addressing challenging behavior and building positive relationships with all children.


Through the Al’s Pals core training early childhood educators learn how to effectively deliver the Al’s Pals lessons and rein force and model the concepts throughout their daily interactions with the children. Teachers acquire strategies to build children’s abilities to express and manage their feelings, get along with others, self-regulate, make healthy choices, cope, and problem-solve peacefully. The training strengthens educators’ abilities to relate to children in positive ways – by listening and validating children’s feelings and experiences, showing caring, responding to sensitive issues, facilitating brainstorming, communicating clear norms, and guiding problem-solving. Al’s Pals training helps educators create more caring, respectful, and cooperative classrooms that reflect trauma-informed practices.


Supports:

For more information contact program creators.

Garrett Bauman Director, Public Policy & State Partnership

240-319-2788

Garrett.b@teachingstrategies.com

Teaching Strategies, LLC

4500 East-West Highway #300 Bethesda, MD 20814


Standards/Guidelines, Models, outcomes, programs:

Al’s Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices is highly regarded as an evidence-based model prevention program with national recognition, including CASEL SELect program designation; top rating by the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning in their Social-Emotional Preschool Curriculum Consumer Report; a model program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and an Effective School-Based Prevention Program: Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Expert Panel designation by the US Department of Education.


The easy-to-implement curriculum is based on resiliency frameworks and aligned to Teaching Strategies' Objectives for Development and Learning (ODL), the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), the Head Start Mental Health performance standards, and the Pyramid Model for Supporting SE Competence in Infants and Young children.


(Great Plains Standards/Guidelines, Models, Outcomes, Programs)

Al's Pals Alignment

Al's Pals Professional Development Plan

Fairfax County, Wellness, Health Promotion & Prevention

Prevention Programs for the Development of Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool Years

Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Preschool Education: A Review of Programs

Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool: Programs and Practices that Work

The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning: Social Emotional Curriculum Consumer Report


Training materials and manuals:

To support educators as they begin implementing Al’s Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices, Teaching Strategies' offers a full series of professional development resources for schools and programs on its new social–emotional learning curriculum.


Professional Development Plan includes:

• 1- and 2-day implementation and ongoing face-to-face or virtual offerings

• Interactive and tailored to specific needs of a program

• Overview of characteristics of resilient children

• Strategies for nurturing resiliency in children


Al's Pals Introductory Courses for Teachers:

  1. Preparing to Implement Al's Pals - In the first of two 6-hour sessions, the collaborative training supports teachers’ understanding of social-emotional learning and its important role in childhood development. Throughout the workshop, teachers meaningfully interact, discuss, and reflect on how to best create inclusive environments for children’s social-emotional learning. Teachers evaluate strategies that foster protective factors and examine how to further develop their own guide skills.

  2. Implementing Al's Pals - Examine how social-emotional learning impacts overall childhood development. Explore how inclusive environments support positive social-emotional development. Evaluate strategies to foster protective factors. Agenda available here.


Teaching Strategies' Professional Development is priced as follows:

  • In-Person $2,900.00 per 6-hour day for up to 25 participants per session per day

  • Virtual $2,400.00 per 6-hour day for up to 25 participants per session per day


Implementation cost:

Al's Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices Pricing:

  • Classroom Curriculum - $795.00 per kit plus Shipping& Handling

  • Two (2) Days of Professional Development (Highly Recommended) In-Person $5,800.00 for up to 25 participants per session per day Virtual $4,800.00 for up to 25 participants per session per day

What's Included in the Al's Pals Program:

Teacher Plans

  • 46 lessons that facilitate large-group interactive discussions and problem solving experiences

  • Puppet Scripts and Helpful Hints

  • Family-Facing Content

  • 8 recognition certificates, 14 family letters, and 1 completion certificate

  • Family-friendly language included in both English and Spanish

Classroom Materials

  • 3 puppets

  • 38 diverse photos representing themes directly related to core concept of the lesson

  • 2 classroom posters

  • 2 children’s books

Songs and Songbook

  • 12 songs that reinforce lessons and core concepts

  • Repetitive, clear easy words for children to use and sing-along


Additional Information:

Teaching Strategies is committed to providing professional development opportunities that meet the highest standards of excellence. To that end, we have completed a rigorous application process to earn the Internal Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) Accreditation. IACET is a non-profit association dedicated to quality continuing education and training programs. IACET is the only standard-setting organization approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for continuing education and training. The IACET Standard is the core of thousands of educational programs worldwide.

To achieve Authorized Provider (AP) accreditation, Teaching Strategies had to demonstrate adherence to the ASNI/IACET Standards addressing the design, development, administration, and evaluation of our training programs. A comprehensive audit of our organization’s training program was conducted by a commission of professionals from across the United States. The result was a framework for continuous improvement, from managing our professional training events efficiently to developing the best possible learning programs. After achieving AP status, Teaching Strategies joined a select community of organizations that share our commitment to educational rigor, excellence and integrity. With IACET accreditation, we can provide the adult education student confidence in our organization’s training program.

As an IACET Accredited Provider, our training adheres to the IACET Standard for Continuing Education and Training. The IACET CEU assures employers, credentialing associations, licensing bodies and others that a learner has completed a quality training program which meets the national standard for continuing education and training. By completing this rigorous application process, Teaching Strategies demonstrated our organization's commitment to continuing education and training excellence. Meanwhile our professional development participants obtain the best return on investment.