Primary Project

What is Primary Project?

Designed by Children’s Institute, Primary Project is a nationally-known and evidenced based preventive mental health program for children in preschool through grade three. It is designed to enhance positive skills and reduce difficulties. Through careful screening, participants are children who are at risk of, but not experiencing, social-emotional or school adjustment problems. Throughout the school year, participants meet with a Child Associate (CA) in individual child-led expressive play sessions, where they become aware of their feelings, experience a sense of self-acceptance, enjoy supportive interaction with the CA, and develop positive feelings about school.

How is William James College involved with Primary Project?

First-year school psychology MA/CAGS students at William James College enroll in a two-semester seminar course focused on Primary Project. Under supervision of William James College faculty and in collaboration with school-based professionals, these MA/CAGS students are trained as Child Associates and work with kindergarten or first grade students throughout the screening process and implementation of the intervention. All in the first year, WJC students gain experience conducting screenings and consultations, facilitating meetings, gathering and analyzing data, and providing feedback to the teachers, school psychologists and parents.

How does Primary Project contribute to students’ learning in school psychology?

The students at William James College have the opportunity to work in the field and make a difference in children’s lives right from their first semester. They are able to gain the hands-on experience of administering all steps of the Primary Project intervention rather than simply observing others. Students are able to enter the field in a comfortable and supportive manner where they can discuss their experiences with their peers, faculty and site supervisors.

Primary Project is just one part of the experiential education in the first-year. Students are in elementary school settings for 10 hours per week, working on a variety of activities. Besides Primary Project, they conduct academic intervention monitoring, conduct psychoeducational assessments and functional behavioral assessments, develop behavioral intervention plans, consult with families and school staff, and often co-facilitate counseling groups. All of these experiences gives each student a wide range of skills that they can carry on throughout the MA/CAGS program and into their career.

If you are interested in bringing Primary Project to your school, please contact us Robyn Bratica at