By: Dr. Debbie Rhea, 2014
The LIINK Project (Let’s inspire innovation ‘N kids) is up and moving in a good direction. We launched in September with two Fort Worth private schools. Starpoint is a lab school at TCU and the other is a K-12 prviate school called Trinity Valley. The goal this year was to collect baseline data on the K & 1 grade children this past Fall, train the teachers and administrators with the tools necessary to make some key changes in the school day by January, and observe behaviors in the classroom and recess arenas to make sure the observation instruments we developed were going to work. So, our goals have been met so far. We launched the intervention in January. The teachers are introducing Positive Action character development curriculum weekly and providing multiple recesses daily.
We have learned several things through this pilot study so far. We knew that parents needed to be part of the conversation from the beginning. What we didn’t expect was the parents would be as supportive as they have been. Many of the parents, after hearing what we were going to do, asked if their children who were not K & 1 could somehow get similar experiences. The parents feel that their children do need more physical activity and breaks during the school day and especially when they raise boys. The research shows that boys need these breaks more than the girls at times which is showing up more and more with the discipline issues and lack of focus in the classroom. We have since decided that when starting this program in other schools, we need to launch it across all elementary grades even though we will only collect data on the youngest ones to begin. We still feel that all of the children will benefit from the program and the parents will be much happier as well.
Another thing we’ve learned is that the training needs to involve everyone who will be impacted by the character development curriculum, not just the homeroom teachers. This includes all teachers, administrators, parents, and staff who have any connection with the children learning the curriculum. A couple of funny things have happened to bring us to this conclusion. One is that the students were going home talking to their parents about castles, different fun characters, and keys to doors with the parents lost to why the students were talking about these things. We realized real quick that the parents needed to be aware of the types of things their children were learning for carry over impact at home. The other funny thing was that the children began using the concepts by role playing at recess. It was really fun to see the impact of a curriculum being introduced in a short period of time having that kind of influence on the kids. This is only the 2nd month of intervention.
We’ve also learned that this intervention is working faster than we thought it would. We are seeing some very good annectdotal evidence of positive changes in the first 6 weeks as a result of additional recesses daily and character development curriculum implementation and can’t wait to see pre-post comparisons in May!