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Promoting Alternate Thinking Strategies (PATHS)


The PATHS curriculum provides teachers with systematic, developmentally-based lessons for teaching their students emotional literacy, self-control, social competence, positive peer relations, and interpersonal problem-solving skills. A key objective of promoting these developmental skills is to prevent or reduce behavioural and emotional problems.

The Preschool PATHS program is based on the PATHS program, and can be adapted to suit individual classroom needs. Preschool PATHS teaches children skills such as self-control, positive self-esteem, emotional awareness, social skills, basic problem- solving skills and friendships to help reduce classroom disruptions caused by bullying and other hostile behaviour.

Implementation Tip

Ideally, the PATHS Program should be initiated at the entrance to schooling, and continue through Grade 5.

Evaluation Evidence

The PATHS program has good evidence from randomised trials that it can prevent violence, aggression and other behavioural and mental health problems by promoting primary school children’s social and emotional competence. The results of a randomised clinical trial of the PATHS preschool program suggested that children exposed to the intervention had higher emotional knowledge skills and were more socially competent (as rated by teachers and parents) than their peers (Domitrovich, Cortes, & Greenberg, 2007). PATHS has been field-tested and researched with children in regular education classroom settings, as well as with a variety of special needs students (deaf, hearing-impaired, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, mildly mentally delayed, and gifted).

Monitoring Recommendations

  • A standard monitoring system is available from the program developer.
  • Boards should negotiate agreements to receive regular progress reports and request to observe some sessions.
  • Monitoring information should include: program coordination; satisfaction with training; and components delivered.
  • Request monitoring of pre-post changes on standardised child adjustment measures.

Mark T. Greenberg,
PhD Prevention Research Center
Pennsylvania State University
Professor Mark Greenberg has supported the development of the PATHS program in Western Australia. CTC Ltd. can support further Australian dissemination

Program details
Target Audience: 
5 - 7 years
Target Risk Factors: 
  • Academic failure (low academic achievement)
  • Low commitment to school
  • Rebelliousness
  • Early initiation of problem behaviour
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Favourable attitudes to problem behaviour
  • Sensation seeking
  • Low social skills
  • Interaction with antisocial peers
Target Protective Factors: 
  • School opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Schools rewards for prosocial involvement
  • Social skills
Community Indicators: 
  • High proportion of special needs primary school children (sensory disability, emotional problems)
  • School bullying
  • Depressive symptoms in primary school