Methods: We capture authentic and unscripted video recordings of everyday adult-child interactions across settings. Curated video clips are used in facilitated “community of practice” sessions with the staff. Learning is guided by the “Simple Interactions Tool”: an illustration that integrates the theories and practices of human interactions along four dimensions: connection, reciprocity, inclusion, and opportunity to grow. Capturing and improving daily practice expands the understanding that SEL are integral to both the processes and the outcomes of developmental interventions. Formative and summative evaluations assessed quality of interactions between staff and children as well as mindset changes within staff.
Results: High quality practices of supportive interactions are identifiable across a wide range of settings, particularly in low-resource contexts. Staff are better able to focus on small, everyday moments as impact points for children and youth. Our data suggest that in both low- and high-resource settings, the quality of interactions can improve within local communities of practice. The magnitude and duration of such improvements depend on structural support and organizational capacity.
Conclusions: We present a simple but not simplistic framework to bridge science and practice. This approach offers encouragement to staff directly in contact with children and enhances their interactions with children. Focusing on human interactions as the active ingredient of intervention efforts can serve as a rallying point for system-level changes to support and empower front-line staff’s daily practice.