Primary Research and Clinical Interests
Dr. Pears studies a number of early childhood predictors of behavioral and social problems with the goal of developing preventive interventions. Specifically, she is interested in the effects of early adverse circumstances (including maltreatment and poverty) on children’s social and academic development. She has studied the school readiness skills and early school adjustment of high-risk children with a particular focus on self-regulatory skills. Additionally, Dr. Pears has examined longer term indicators of school adjustment in children at risk for poor school outcomes, including how school adjustment is transmitted from one generation to the next. She has translated this research into an intervention to improve the school readiness skills of children at high risk for poor academic and social adjustment: the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program (www.kidsintransitiontoschool.org). She is the principal investigator on three randomized efficacy trials of the KITS Program including maltreated children in foster care, children with developmental disabilities and co-occurring behavioral or social problems, and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.