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Participatory Work with Young Children Evaluating a Yoga Program for Students in Special Education Ilana Palgi, Psy.D. School-based Yoga Program Middle-class New York suburb 9 children enrolled, 6 completed study Ages: K thru 3 rd grade (ages 5-8) Once weekly yoga classes

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Participatory Work with Young Children

Evaluating a Yoga Program

for Students in Special Education

Ilana Palgi, Psy.D.


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School-based Yoga Program

  • Middle-class New York suburb

  • 9 children enrolled, 6 completed study

  • Ages: K thru 3rd grade (ages 5-8)

  • Once weekly yoga classes


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Participatory Program Evaluation

  • Evaluation after 6 weeks

  • Group meetings 30-45 minutes, audio-taped

  • Methodology

    • Roger Hart (1997)

    • Drawing, Charting, Mapping, Painting

    • Dialogue and Inquiry

    • Action: Group Presentation


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Meeting #1I like warrior…because when I do warrior I feel like one!” (boy, age 6)


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Drawings of “favorite” and “least favorite” poses

  • Triangle pose “hurt my legs and … hurts my ribs” (boy, age 6)

  • I don’t like waterfall “because it hurts my back a little” (girl, age 6)

  • “…last week I found out some kids don’t like to do crescent moon because it hurts their back. So we fixed that this week; we did some backstretches after we did crescent moon. It helped me” (Teacher)


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Meetings #2-3 “Feelings Chart”


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Yoga and Internal states

  • “I feel tired” (girl, age 5)

  • “I feel so happy…I took my balance and I stayed with…” (boy, age 6) referring to tree pose

  • “strong like warrior 1” (girl, age 5)

  • “I’m sad. I don’t know…I feel sad during everything” (boy, age 8) during peace breath



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Yoga Breaths

  • “If you were going crazy” (boy, age 8)

  • “So we’re ready to do our job” (boy, age 6)

  • “So we calm down” (girl, age 5)

  • In “the hallway…when we’re wild and we’re not ready, we can take yoga breaths” (boy, age 6)

  • When “you’re working and you get a little upset” (Teacher)


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Meeting #5 “Our Story of Yoga” Mural


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Meeting #6 Action: Student Presentationto Teachers and Students

Mutual dialogue and feedback continued

  • “…sometimes if your arms or legs are hurting from a pose, it’s just because you still need to grow some muscle…” (teacher)

  • “And you might be holding the pose too long” (boy, age 8)

  • “Next year maybe we should strengthen our backs before we do crescent pose… and maybe the next time we do yoga… these children should decide what we do next” (teacher)


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Reflexivity:Research Journal

  • My first research project!

  • “I really didn’t know what to expect so I have been anxious about getting started”

  • Weekly entries following each of the group meetings and final entry 3 months later

  • “sometimes I feel like this research project is ‘made-up’ – but at the same time I really like the idea behind it.”


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Lessons Learned

  • Qualitative Research and Participatory work

  • Expect the unexpected

  • It can be done! – research with young children in special education

  • Coding and analyzing the data takes a while … but it’s worth it!

  • Respect the process!


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Publication

  • “Children, Youth, and Environments” 2007

    - Participatory Learning and Action with Children: Our Story of Yoga

  • Data from dissertation transformed into a field report for publication


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