Program

Dec 21, 2012

OVERVIEW

The Inner Kids program teaches mindfulness awareness practices, which are designed to promote awareness and reflection, to elementary school children.  An experimental evaluation of this program revealed that Inner Kids had a significant positive impact on the executive functioning (EF) of children who began the program with EF difficulties.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM


Target Population:  
Elementary school children.

The Inner Kids program teaches reflection as well as awareness of and attention to the present moment.  The program uses secular and age-appropriate games to promote awareness of self, others, and the environment.  Inner Kids can be implemented in a variety of settings.  Each session of the program involves a sitting meditation, an activity or game, and a body scan or meditation lying down.  This program involves a mix of introspection and interaction with peers and the teacher.  Goals of mindful awareness practices include better executive functioning, attention, balance, and increased compassion.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., … Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26, 70-95. doi:10.1080/15377900903379125

Evaluated Population:  The sample consisted of 64 elementary school children from second and third grade classrooms in Los Angeles.  The ethnic background of the sample was 45 percent Caucasian, 23 percent Latino, 14 percent Asian, 9 percent African American, and 9 percent other.  Fifty-five percent of the sample was male, and the average age was 8.2 years.

Approach:  The children were individually randomized to the Inner Kids intervention (n = 32) or a control group (n = 32). Inner Kids was delivered in school, twice a week over 8 weeks.  Those in the control group had a silent reading period with the same frequency and duration.  The main outcome of interest was executive functioning, measured via parent and teacher report at baseline and immediately after the end of the intervention.  Executive function can be broken down into two components, metacognition and behavioral regulation.  The analysis controlled for classroom to adjust for clustering effects.

Results:  For the full sample, being assigned to Inner Kids did not significantly improve parent or teacher reported executive functioning, when compared to being assigned to the control group.  However, for those with low levels of executive functioning at the beginning of treatment, the Inner Kids program had a significant positive impact on executive functioning, metacognition, and behavior regulation.  This indicates that the Inner Kids program may be  especially beneficial for children struggling with executive functioning.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., … Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26, 70-95. doi:10.1080/15377900903379125

Website: http://www.susankaisergreenland.com/inner-kids.html

Contact Information

Susan L. Smalley, Ph.D.

UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

760 Westwood Plaza, Room 47-438

Los Angeles, CA 90095

Email: ssmalley@mednet.ucla.edu

KEYWORDS:  Children (3-11), Elementary, Males and Females (Co-ed), School-based, Skills Training, Mental Health Other, Social/Emotional Health Other

Program information last updated on 12/21/12.

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