Program to support mothers (PAM) and teachers (PAP) to improve cognitive, social and communication skills in preschool children, improve maternal quality of life and decrease domestic violence

Maria Conceição do Rosário

Associate teacher at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) postdoctoral research in child and adolescent psychiatry from Yale University and adjunct professor at this university

Project name

Program to support mothers (PAM) and teachers (PAP) to improve cognitive, social and communication skills in preschool children, improve maternal quality of life and decrease domestic violence


The study developed two specific programs and materials for essential caregivers of children up to six years old: Mothers Support Program (PAM) and Teacher Support Program (PAP). It also measured their impact in improving care and child development. In addition to reporting on early childhood, both aimed to provide tools to enable caregivers to deal with children’s stress and difficult behaviors, ensuring less violent environments and with more appropriate stimuli for the children they deal with daily.

How was the experiment

The team carried out 24 groups with 250 mothers and three groups with 45 teachers of preschool children from Embu das Artes, in São Paulo’s interior. The groups of caregivers participated in 13 and 8 weekly meetings with professionals trained to hold the sessions to encourage caregivers’ active participation, with debates, performances, and discussions on the topics. The various topics are addressed in 13 weekly meetings with groups of 20 mothers and a session with their partners. On the other hand, PAP consists of 40 hours of activities, with eight weekly face-to-face meetings and 20 hours of remote activities. The activities are varied, including theoretical information about early childhood, strategies to reduce stress and improve the teacher’s health, discussions and performances on the topics covered, and reflections on the difficulties to deal with the students’ behaviors. To ensure the control group in the evaluation, the researchers followed the same number of caregivers who did not participate in the intervention. Each participant was evaluated before and after going through the programs. This was made through tests and questionnaires, with duration of 1h30 of interviews. Questionnaires for mothers sought to identify the type of parenting style and quality of life, symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in mothers and children, and socio-emotional development of children. Questionnaires for teachers assessed their quality of life, and levels of stress, anxiety and depression. A specific instrument also assessed children, the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA), translated and adapted for the first time in Brazil by researchers, as an objective way to assess children’s development directly.

Main results

According to the first qualitative results, the interventions brought benefits to both participating mothers, their children, and teachers. The mothers reported fewer anxiety symptoms, depression and stress when dealing with their children, increased time and quality of interaction with their children. Children had fewer symptoms of anxiety, sadness, aggression and restlessness. They also improved cognitive, physical and socioemotional skills and had greater autonomy in daily living activities such as putting on shoes, making lace, dressing and brushing teeth alone.

Why is it innovative

It is the first time that interventions like these have been implemented in Brazil and their impacts have been measured.

Problem that solves

It solves the prevalence of high levels of stress and lack of proper knowledge about early childhood among caregivers and their impact on the quality of these caregivers’ interaction with children and healthy child development.

Implications for the brazilian health system

All PAM and PAP activities are adaptable to different realities of caregivers, allowing interventions to be extended to other regions of the country.

Implications for global health

With appropriate cultural adaptations, PAM and PAP can be expanded to other countries.

Next steps

The team is finishing tabulating the indicators that measure quality of life, symptoms of anxiety and depression, quality of interaction with children and their level of development. These results will be presented in scientific articles and materials adapted for the lay public.

Published studies

No published studies.

Article about the project

The intervention program that focused on mothers and teachers to improve the development of children under their care

Early childhood — a period from 0 to 6 years old — can set the course for an adult’s entire life. According to the American economist James Heckman, who received a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2000, each dollar invested during this period returns up to seven dollars to society. That is because emotionally healthy […]
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Related projects

No related projects.