First Step to Success Early Intervention Program: A Study of Effectiveness with Native-American Children

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the effectiveness of the First Step to Success (FSS) early intervention program with four Native-American students, their teachers, and their parents on (a) targeted students' problem behaviors, (b) class-wide student behaviors, and (c) teacher behaviors. Participant teachers and parents were also interviewed to gather their perceptions of the FSS program. The results of direct observations of targeted students' play behaviors on the playground revealed that the FSS program had a significant positive affect on all participant students' social play behaviors. As soon as the intervention started, all participant students' social play behaviors significantly increased and their nonsocial behaviors decreased. All participant students showed higher levels of social play behaviors as soon as the intervention was initiated. Substantial decreases in problem behaviors were also reported by two teachers. Some positive changes in class-wide student behaviors and teacher behaviors were reported by the participant teachers. All but one parent reported significant changes in problem behaviors of targeted students. They all were highly satisfied with the program and rated it as easy to use. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are discussed.

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The issues regarding young children with antisocial behaviors have been a growing concern for educators over the past decade with the alarming increase of the number of students with antisocial or disruptive behaviors in the public schools of the United States. Research has identified intense antisocial behaviors as the best predictors of delinquent and violent behaviors when aggression and other disruptive behaviors are seen early in a child's life (Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992).

Children with antisocial behaviors have serious difficulties especially in the academic and social domains. The area of social skills / relations may be the most important one in which children with antisocial behaviors have trouble. It is widely accepted that peers, as important social agents, play vital roles in children's development especially in the development of social and emotional competence and the gaining of social skills and values. While the literature shows that interactions with peers are critical, children with antisocial behaviors frequently have trouble understanding most social behaviors / cues directed toward them by their peers (Pepler, Craig, & Roberts, 1998; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). As a main component of social skills, children with antisocial behavior patterns usually have difficulties with their peers in play interactions both in the classroom and on the playground. Walker et al. (1995) report that students with antisocial behaviors show easily aggressive intentions to their peers and teachers both in the classroom and on the playground during free play periods. Walker and his colleagues also indicate that children with antisocial behaviors generate more negative-aggressive behaviors than their non-antisocial peers during free play episodes in the classrooms (Walker, Shinn, O'Neill, & Ramsey, 1987).

Antisocial behavior patterns have been reported as severe and common among urban, low SES minority youth (Elliot & Ageton, 1980; Yung & Hammond, 1997). Because of several factors such acculturation, poverty, and social disruption, it has been reported that minority youths are at greater risk for involvement with violent crimes, as gang members, as substance abusers, and as sellers of illicit drugs (Yung & Hammond, 1997). Although there is some information on antisocial behavior among r minority groups in general, there is limited information on antisocial behavior among Native American youth. Studies by Gruber, Anderson, and DiClemente (1994); Gruber, DiClemente, and Anderson (1994); and Newcomb, Fahy, and Skager (1990) reveal that particular subgroups of male and female Native American high school students have higher rates of alcohol use, shoplifting, vandalism, and assaultive behavior than their Caucasian or African American peers. …