Our Children 1st teaching model is a researched based approach to enrichment education based on a concrete understanding of praise, motivation, and self-esteem leading to greater collaboration, choice, and play in the learning environment. We blend time-tested behavioral psychology and the science of kids yoga to offer schools budget-friendly options. We incorporate the best practices in school day education and apply them to an enrichment classroom setting. Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion and Rick Lavoie’s The Motivation Breakthrough are key elements of our teaching philosophy. We strive to understand and serve the non-academic aspects of every child through divergent thinking as thoroughly explained by Sir Ken Robinson.
How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success
How Kids Yoga Could Help Kids Stay In School
Fact Sheet: Kids Yoga, Wellness, and Poverty in New York City
In New York City, as with other regions, poverty and poor health outcomes tend to go hand-in-hand. Here are just some of the disheartening statistics taken from the 2010 Census and the New York State Department of Health:
About 20 percent of New York City residents live below the poverty line
Nearly 50 percent of youths in the South Bronx and central Brooklyn live under the poverty line
Nearly 18 percent of New York City youths are obese
Poor youths are twice as likely to be obese
Only 21% of 8th graders can read proficiently. Slightly better: 26% are up to speed in math
Almost 80 percent of these teens will be arrested before their eighteenth birthdays
1 in 6 of these teens is a parent
More than a quarter million of these teens are disconnected from both school and work
According to a growing body of research, exercise–especially yoga–has the potential to:
Significantly reduce stress. It has been shown to lower cortisol. Specifically, meditation could potentially decrease doctor visits by 60%
Improve fitness, including balance and strength
Help manage chronic mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some instances it’s more effective than medicine
Reduce heart rate and blood pressure
Decrease back problems, according to the NIH
Improve academic performance, according to the NCBI. One school that implemented regular yoga programs saw a two-fold increase in reading proficiency. Another was able to cut suspensions almost in half, and improve attendance 98%
Yoga and meditation in schools can have a positive effect on increasing school attendance and decreasing suspensions according to an article from The Atlantic.
According to a recent Forbes article, yoga helps children stay in school breaking the school to prison cycle.
In the U.S., more than 20 million people regularly participate in yoga
We spent $27 billion on yoga products between 2012 and 2013
Experts believe that yoga will be a continuing trend, not a fad
The Case for After School Programs
Afterschool programs refer to “an array of safe, structured programs that provide children and youth ages kindergarten through high school with a range of supervised activities intentionally designed to encourage learning and development outside of the typical school day.” After school programs support working families by keeping children and youth engaged and safe while parents work. These programs focus on safety, positive youth development, and academic enrichment and support (Little et al. 2007). Hosh Kids champions the need for afterschool as it’s a key component of educating the “whole child.” Our mission prioritizes the need for affordable cost and quality programming for all children. Investmenting in afterschool staff development is key. Children who attend afterschool everyday spend up to 30% of their school day with afterschool staff. And yet, afterschool staff receive limited staff development workshops and training in comparison to school day teachers. Our teaching volunteers and teaching artists demonstrate a dedication to school-day and afterschool yoga and enrichment programs based on applied principles of behavior psychology.
Does participation in afterschool programs make a difference in a child’s education? The answer is yes. In 2007, a two-year longitudinal Study of Promising After-School Programs examined the effects of participation in quality afterschool programs among almost 3,000 students. The students demonstrated significant gains in standardized math test scores when compared to other students who spent the after school period unsupervised. Regular participation in these types of programs was associated with improvements in work habits and task persistence as well (Vandell et al. 2007). In a review of thirty-five studies published in 2006, it was reported that the test scores of low-income, at-risk youth improved significantly in both reading and mathematics after they participated in after-school programs (Lauer et al. 2006). Therefore, research tells us that afterschool reinforces the life and academic skills taught during school day that become and contribute to developing habits for a healthy adulthood.
Another study, published in 2010, showed that, compared to controls, participants in after-school programs demonstrate significant increases in their self-perceptions and bonding to school, positive social behaviors, school grades, and levels of academic achievement, and significant reductions in problem behaviors (Durlak et al. 2010). This study concluded that after-school programs should contain components related to personal and social skills of children so that they can benefit in other ways that are not purely academic if these components are offered. After-school programs can be essential in improving the overall academic experience of a child.
Yoga can be an important component of afterschool programs as it helps improve all the areas mentioned above and it only requires a child’s breath and their body anywhere, anytime.
THE HOSH KIDS MODEL
The Hosh Kids teaching model is based on three principles: praise, motivation, and self-esteem. Our philosophy is heavily influenced by the works of Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, and Richard Lavoie’s The Motivation Breakthrough. In addition, you will find more support on the effect of praise, motivation, and self-esteem below.
Praise is essential in the development of a child with high self-esteem and high motivation for achievement. In the early years (one to three years old), a parent’s praising of a child’s effort encourages them to believe that one’s ability to complete a task can improve, attribute success to hard work, enjoy challenges, and generate strategies improvement, which can continue into older age groups (six to eight years old) and beyond (Gunderson et al. 2013). Provided that praise is perceived as sincere, it is beneficial to a child’s motivation as it promotes self-reliance, enhances competence without an over-reliance on comparing one’s self to someone else, and conveys attainable standards and expectations (Henderlong and Lepper 2002).
Outside of the home and parent-child relationship, praise plays an important role in the classroom. Feedback provides learners with a comparison of their performance to educational goals with the aim of helping them achieve or exceed their goals (Schartel 2012). Children have an intrinsic desire to learn, and effective praise, which is that delivered in an appropriate setting, focuses on the specific performance rather than the individual, and is delivered using neutral, non-judgmental language, can foster students’ natural curiosities and desires to learn by focusing their attention on the intrinsic rewards that come from completing a task (Brophy 1981). Students thrive in encouraging environments where they receive specific feedback and have the opportunity to evaluate their own behavior and work. Encouragement fosters autonomy, positive self-esteem, a willingness to explore, and acceptance of self and others (Hitz and Driscoll 1989).
For the last forty years, the idea that a person’s self-concept influences his or her behavior has been integral in American individualistic social philosophy. A belief in the power of self-esteem has been incorporated into psychological, sociological, and educational theory. All of these theories emphasize the influence of inner experiences as sources of individual behavior within the contexts of the given field of study. Many psychologists have hypothesized that a positive self-concept will lead to socially desirable behavior and that a distorted self-concept will lead to socially inadequate behaviors (Scheirer and Kraut 1979).
In educational psychology, there is a belief that a child’s feelings about himself or herself are key factors in his or her ability to achieve in school. However, the role of self-esteem in the academic achievement of a child or adolescent has been one of the most controversial issues in educational psychology. In education, it is essential that students develop an interest in learning, a valuing of education, and a confidence in their own capacities and attributes. These outcomes are manifestations of being intrinsically motivated and recent research suggests that this type of motivation results in high-quality learning and conceptual understanding, as well as enhanced personal growth and adjustment (Deci et al. 1991).
A recent review of current research in this area has suggested that there is little support for the claim that self-esteem influences achievement in any meaningful way (Baumeister et al. 2003), but there is also considerable evidence to suggest that positive self-esteem should be pursued by educators as an important outcome in itself, rather than simply an important component to an outcome that signifies achievement (Humphrey 2004). In 1999, Christopher Mruk published his book Self-Esteem: Research, Theory, and Practice, which suggested that a positive sense of self can be achieved through providing individuals with experiences of personal achievements or successes, acceptance or being value, evidence of influence or power, and virtue or acting on beliefs and this view has been in line with many of leading scholars in the field. This is where the role of praise in developing a motivation to achieve is essential.
Developing long-lasting motivation in a young child is critical for his or her continued academic success. In 2001, a longitudinal study of students from the middle elementary through high school years was published. It concluded that children who begin with lower motivation during childhood are likely to be at a greater disadvantage over the age span (Gottfried et al. 2001). Students who perceive an emphasis on mastery of skills as a goal in the classroom report using more effective strategies, prefer challenging tasks, have a more positive attitude toward the class, and had a stronger belief that success follows from one’s effort and confidence in that effort. Conversely, students who perceive performance standards as a goal in the classroom tend to focus on perceived shortcomings in ability and attribute failure to their own ability (Ames and Archer 1988). In short, it is essential that a healthy self-esteem be developed through praise and encouragement to create highly motivated and high achieving learners.
The Case for Kids Yoga Programs
There is a vast body of evidence to support the benefits of yoga for adults (Raub 2002). At Hosh Yoga, we believe that health and wellness are rights of life. It is especially important that we extend these principles to children as well, so it has been our mission to diminish inequality and offer children programming that can improve their minds, bodies, and lives. Hosh Kids champions enrichment education as a right of life rather than a luxury. There is a staggering amount of research, including findings that yoga can reduce stress and help manage chronic health problems, and there are a number of findings that it can improve the overall quality of a child’s education. It is here where we will present some of these findings.
In 2003, a team of researchers at California State University, Los Angeles investigated yoga instruction and student outcome at a school in South Central Los Angeles. The population of this kindergarten through eighth grade charter school is 62% Hispanic and 36% Mexican-American. The study lasted for a year and examined 252 elementary school students who participated in a yoga curriculum for sixty minutes per week and an additional 153 middle school students who participated in yoga for 120 minutes per week. As a result, there was an observed improvement in the students’ positive feelings about themselves and observed decrease in bad behavior (as measured by numbers of school discipline referral issued). Students’ academic performance was also seen to improve. In terms of physical education, yoga improved fitness test scores on flexibility, upper body strength, and aerobic capacity (Slovacek et al. 2003).
In 2010, a study by researchers at the Ohio State University investigated students’ perceptions of an eight-week school-based yoga program designed as a preventative intervention to reduce stress and improve behavior in students at risk for learning programs. The participants were 24 third grade students in a low-income urban neighborhood. This program included yoga poses and exercises, meditation, and slow breathing. After eight weeks, it was observed through small group interviews that the program helped the students feel calm and focused, gave them strategies to control their behavior in stressful situations, and supported a positive-self esteem (Case-Smith et al. 2010). Similar results were seen in self-confidence, social confidence, communication, and contribution in class in another similar recent study (Powell et al. 2010).
Prestigious national magazines also support the case for kids yoga in schools. For example, yoga can help kids stay in school breaking the school to prison cycle as suggested by a recent article on Forbes magazine (Walton 2013). The Atlantic magazine also published an article giving insights as to the effect of mediation, yoga and mindfulness in schools (Machado 2014).
Hosh Kids is located in a Brooklyn area where approximately 55% of youths live in poverty, so our philosophy is simple: we will never turn down a school, parent, or child for a lack of ability to pay. Our Hosh Kids program reaches over 450 children every week in over 20 sites throughout New York City. In conjunction with our teaching model based on an understanding of praise, motivation, and self-esteem, we believe that our after-school and school-day yoga programs may serve as an essential part of creating an educational environmental that is conducive to high academic achievement and successful socio-emotional development.
Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Hosh Kids’ model is based on special education principles. Our praise, self-esteem, and motivation model is dedicated to children who struggle everyday in the classroom. It can particularly hard to understand a child on the autism spectrum.
Autism is characterized as a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life that affects the development and function of the brain. Individuals with autism typically display delayed or abnormal development with relation to language and social skills. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that while individuals may share common symptoms but express them in varying degrees (American Psychological Association 2010). For example, some children may display high functioning verbal skills, but low functioning in processing social cues or sensory information from the environment.
In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was reported that the prevalence of children being diagnosed with disorders on the autism spectrum has increased to 1 in 110 births, and almost 1 in 70 male births in the United States (Centers for Disease Control 2006). With autism spectrum disorders becoming increasingly more common, it is more crucial than ever to find non-invasive ways to support these children so that they can learn the skills to function successfully and independently in the adult world.
Yoga is a powerful tool that can teach children how to “connect to their bodies, tap into their own personal strength, better deal with life’s challenges, and build connections with the outside world” (Ehleringer 2010). Although there are no quantitative studies on the topic of yoga and autism spectrum disorders, there are many clinical reports on the positive results of yoga, and it is considered a complementary form of therapy along with traditional therapies, like occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapies. In contrast to other therapies, yoga helps children with autism spectrum disorders calm themselves, rather than relying on someone else to provide this comfort for them (Behar 2006). This is essential in teaching these children the skills necessary to live independently.
A new integrative therapy, Integrated Movement Therapy TM is “an individual and group therapy approach that combines speech-language pathology, behavioral and mental health counseling, and yoga” taught by master-degreed therapists who are also certified yoga instructors. It has been successfully implemented in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), dyspraxia, and other specific motor-based disorders, but has produced especially consistent and remarkable results in children with autism spectrum disorders (Kenny 2002). It is built on six core pillars: structure and continuity, social interaction, language stimulation, self-calming, physical stimulation, and direct self-esteem building, which are some of the areas where children with autism spectrum disorders may struggle (Arnold 2001; Slède 2001). Hosh Kids works hard to help teachers understand children on the spectrum and in special education by effectively teaching children with tools and skills that work for every child.
5 Principles of Excellence in Aftershool
Few issues spark more debate in this country than education. With a system that contains blatant disparities, particularly in urban areas, and lags behind our western counterparts, it is no wonder that more attention is being paid to after-school programs and their potential to bridge the gap. Hosh Kids champions the need for enrichment education in the school-day and afterschool assuring subsidized programs for schools and parents. While studies conducted over the past decade have provided evidence that afterschool programs make a positive impact on the lives of children by sharpening the skills necessary for success in secondary school, college and work, the effectiveness of such programs vary. Those that have the greatest influence on student outcomes have been proven to follow a number of well-established guidelines. The purpose of this brief is to outline these guidelines and encourage all programs as Hosh Kids to strive to meet these standards.
5 Principles of Excellence in After-School
The Massachusetts After-School Research Study (MARS) and the Afterschool Alliance have determined that there are numerous program quality indicators, which separate the effective OST programs from the ineffective. Below is a condensed list that combines what are perhaps the most important qualities cited by the aforementioned studies:
1. Staff Preparedness/Engagement with Youth– Instructors should have experience working with children and more importantly should be given opportunities for continual staff development. Teachers teach as they know how and it’s key that teachers are provided with as much relevant teaching information as possible. Teachers must understand the context of learning in a school setting that precedes content and skill development of any learning environment. The first day and week of programming are very important to establishing class structure and rapport with students. It is critical that staff members have the ability to build a rapport with their students through positive communication and praise. It is essential for teachers to address student engagement and participation immediately. Negative student-teacher interactions can also result in a lower retention rate if the program is enrollment-based. Moreover, staff should always present themselves as positive role models with appropriate techniques and tools to address challenging class problems and behaviors. It is also important to note that staff members should be provided with adequate site support and appropriate compensation in order to maximize the success of the program and retain the necessary number of staff members. For example, Hosh Kids trains the teaching staff in understanding the importance of praise, self-esteem, and motivation in addressing participation and engagement. Teachers must also develop a practical education philosophy that is able to resonate with the class.
2. Parent/School Relationships– When the staff meets with parents at the end of the day for dismissal, they should offer constructive feedback regarding students, and interact positively with parents. Research shows that good relationships with parents greatly affects the success of programs and impacts the student retention rates in afterschool.
3. Sustained Student Participation/Engagement– Student attendance should be maintained by offering subjects and activities that interest students and by providing an environment that makes children feel comfortable and engaged. While academics are obviously important, a wide variety of subjects should be offered, such as dance, art, music, and physical education. These are areas that not only keep students engaged, but improve critical thinking skills, as well as health and wellness. According to a study by Jane Lanigan, “understanding and modifying child care providers’ beliefs regarding their role in children’s physical activity is a critical component for the successful implementation of obesity prevention initiatives designed to increase child activity levels.” It can therefore be concluded that after school programs that offer indoor physical education, in the form of yoga, dance, etc., can help improve children’s health as well as shape their attitudes towards exercise.
4. Intentional, High Quality Programming– The success of after-school programs depends largely on well organized activities that do not mark a break from school instruction, but are rather aligned with school. It is important that afterschool staff reinforce the same approach to reward, discipline, and structure as school day teachers. Programs should be designed to strengthen the skills, such as math, reading and writing, which students focus a lot during the school day. That being said, programs should also expand student’s horizons by offering enrichment courses of choice. Finally, programming should be developmentally appropriate, well thought out, and encourage critical thinking and/or physical stimulation.
5. Safety, Health and Wellness, and Appropriate Space– Programs should provide students with a safe, orderly, and comfortable learning environment. Students should be properly supervised at all times and made to feel secure. As prior mentioned, programs should offer physical activities to improve the health of their students, and it is encouraged that they provide nutritious meals.