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Project STAR

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Project STAR was an intervention with preschoolers enrolled in the Head Start program in a preschool in Lane County, Oregon conducted by the University of Oregon. The goal of the program was to increase literacy skills of at-risk children by improving their learning environmnents by increasing the amount of planned and focused activities. The curriculum had two components: a classroom ecology component and family-focused intervention activities.

Classroom ecology

The classroom ecology component is designed to help teachers develop the classroom environment in ways that promote the development of important literacy skills in children. The teachers were trained to focus on the overall environment in the classroom focusing on the physical environment (e.g., space and materials), the planning and scheduling of teacher activities and the sturcturing of a daily schedule, and improving the social environment by teaching social roles and expectations, monitoring students social interactions, and interacting with students regularly. One of the most important parts of the classroom ecology component were the Circle Time Activities which were instructional periods led by the teacher that focused on either sharing or vocabulary that lasted about 10 minutes each. Teachers were instructed to review skills learned previously, integrate new and old knowledge, and practice specific skills.

Another important component of classroom ecology was the Activity-Based Intervention (ABI) that provided an opportunity for children to learn critical skills through play and routine activities that are developmentally-appropriate and interesting to preschooleers. ABI's used here were related to skills learned during Circle Time Activities.

Family-focused intervention

The family-focused intervention encouraged parents to instigate non-directive play with their preschoolers and responsive communication. They were also encouraged to attend to their child's emotions and actively discipline their children. Children were provided with the skills used in the classroom component each week and instructed to give their children opportunities at home to practice skills learned in the classroom. The intervention also included a STAR Home Visiting curriculum where the initial focus was on parent-child joint storybook reading and the development of language skills. As the child progressed through preschool the focus shifted to phonological awareness skills and knowledge of the alphabet.

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