proMENTE social research has conducted the first phase of the longitudinal study on effects of preschool programs on child development as part of the project “Strengthening social inclusion – equal and quality education opportunities for successful development of children in North West Balkan 2016 – 2018”. The project was implemented by Save the Children in North West Balkans and Pedagogical Institute Tuzla.

The general aim of the study was to assess the short-term and long-term effects of institutional pre-school programs on the cognitive and socio-emotional development and school success of children who had different pre-school experience. The study represents the first longitudinal study on children's development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The research design for the first phase of the study was the longitudinal quasi-experimental design.

Longitudinal studies help to understand the early development of children‘s abilities and competences and allow researchers to study changes over time at the group and at the individual level. Therefore, the design implied conducting repeated measures of cognitive and social-emotional abilities and skills and knowledge of two cohorts of children (5 to 7 year olds) with different preschool experiences at several time points from June 2017 to November 2018.

Sample size in the first phase of the study was 776 children who were enrolled in the first grade of primary school in 2017/2018 and in 2018/2019. Experimental group was made of children with preschool experience (children who attended regular or obligatory preschool program) from Tuzla Canton (N=517), while control group was made of children without preschool experience from Una-Sana Canton (N=259).

The constructs, which were defined as the subjects of measurement included child’s general abilities, school readiness, socio-emotional competences, school achievements and assessment of family environment.

The model has been guided by a framework of children’s development and schooling that emphasizes the interrelationships between child and family and child and (pre)school. 

Due to complexity of the research subject multi-method approach has been applied which included both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and tools such are tests, (self)assessment scales, questionnaires, checklists, interviews and secondary data analysis.