At its core, the pyramid model represents a systematic approach to ensuring that all children receive the targeted intervention(s) they need to be happy, productive and healthy members of society. As providing this sort of support can be a complex negotiation between many factors, the pyramid model was proposed as a tiered approach to healthcare services. It provides teachers and other professionals involved in coordinating a child’s care with a path to follow. It is not that any specific point of the pyramid is more important than another instead they feed off one another.

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As noted in the article “The Teaching Pyramid: A Model for Supporting Social Change and Preventing Challenging Behavior in Young Children,” many teachers feel they need a better system to manage the children in their classroom (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph & Strain, 2003). In particular, those children with behavioral problems can benefit from a structured model that helps guide their teachers in best practices. Those children who hit and scream, bully others or refuse to do work are asking for help and are disrupting the confines of the school grounds for others. It is important to alleviate what might be causing poor behavior in young children. In doing so, one can also benefit teachers and the school’s organization overall.

The foundational work begins with the yellow tier, which are the systems and policies in place that help a workplace begin to utilize the pyramid system as well as supporting its continued development over time. Then, the blue tier ensures that the supports from the yellow tier are universal for all children. Providing young people with challenging and nurturing environments is a huge part of this moment in the process. Without the blue and yellow tier providing the necessary foundation, the green and red tier, which respectively represents prevention and intervention services, would have no leg on which to stand (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph & Strain, 2003). The effectiveness of the earlier tiers can allow for pro-active prevention methods to be put into place for those children who might be at risk for problems in realms such as the social and emotional.

Finally, in the intervention stage, those children who suffer from persistent behavior problems can receive individualized services paired to meet with the challenges of the specific child in their naturalistic environment (s). Explicit instruction is something that many children benefit from, however not every child is motivated by the same things (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph & Strain, 2009). As the article suggests, it is extremely important to reach out individually to every child. Some may respond better to a positive note being sent home while others might appreciate a small snack, toy, a simple conversation or extra time to play (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph & Strain, 2003). Encouraging positive play among every student is also an important part of the process. Overall the strategy is all about promoting good relationships which make students feel more comfortable with social situations and their school environment overall.

In preliminary studies of the pyramid program’s success, it has been shown to improve various developmental trajectories for the children within the setting it is utilized in. This can include providing benefit in the areas of social skills and, has been shown to be particularly useful in those children who have been targeted as having behavior problems in need of remediation. It is important to reach these children early and touch base with them often. Therapeutic intervention is not, however, an intuitive process. Instead it is complex and requires needs a sort of entry point for teachers to get to the help they need to prop up their own students. A model like the pyramid model can provide an essential support system to this effect.

  • Fox, Lise, Dunlap, Glen, Hemmeter, Mary Louise, Joseph, Gail E. & Strain, Phillip (2003). “The Teaching Pyramid: A Model for Supporting Social Competence and Preventing Challenging Behavior in Young Children” Young Children, retrieved from: on June 1, 2015.
  • Fox, L., Dunlap, G., Hemmeter, M.L., Joeseph G., & Strain, P (2009). “The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children Fact Sheet,” Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention.