EPHRAIM – During the last school year, the 4-H after-school program helped participating children regulate their emotions and improve their reading skills, according to a USU Extension leader.
The 4-H after-school program serves about 150 kids at schools throughout the county, Shannon Cromwell, family and consumer sciences agent for USU Extension, told the Sanpete County Commission on Feb. 15.
The program receives support from a grant from the Utah Department of Workforce Services. One of the stipulations of the grant, Cromwell said, was to provide a pre- and post-test of social and emotional learning.
In a pre-test, 38.3% of youth in the program said that they couldn’t control their anger when disagreeing with others.
Based on that finding, after-school team members implemented lessons that worked on emotional regulation skills. After the six weeks of lessons, the youth were tested again and the percentage reporting difficulty regulating emotions dropped to 13.7%.
Cromwell said she had met with after-school educators and 90% of them had reported that after teaching the lessons, they saw a decrease in impulsivity amongst youth that made the environment much better on a daily basis.
“It was a reduction of 25 percent in these risky, negative behaviors,” Cromwell said.
Regarding reading improvement, the North Sanpete and South Sanpete schools use DIBELS as the main test for accessing kindergarten to sixth grade literacy. DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. The DIBELS test focuses on accuracy, fluency and comprehension.
The 4-H after-school program offered tutoring and extra reading time for students at Fairview, Mt. Pleasant, Ephraim and Manti elementary schools.
Cromwell pulled DIBELS test scores of all the youth at the four schools at the beginning of the school year and compared them with scores at the end of the year. The average score for children at the four sites increased 67 percent.
“I thought that was a really great increase on their test scores,” Cromwell said.