Online Program

Yoga for pre-school children in head start programs: Promoting motor and social skill development

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Margaret O'Neil, PT, PhD, MPH, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia, PA
Maria Benedetto, DPT, PCS, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia, PA
Roger Ideishi, JD, OT/L, FOATA, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, PA
Siobhan Ideishi, OTR/L, Occupational Therapy Services, CORA Services, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Children aged 3-5 years in Head Start Programs often have or are at risk for delays in motor and social skills. A Group Yoga Program was designed to promote skill development.

Methods: Two Head Start Programs located in underserved neighborhoods partnered with physical and occupational therapy departments at nearby universities to design, implement and evaluate a Group Yoga Program delivered during summer. Children (n=105) participated in these Yoga Programs (55% boys; 45% girls). The Yoga Programs included sequences to promote motor and social skills. Sequences were contextualized in stories of journeys to city landmarks to motivate children; improve attention and retention; and for fun! Yoga instructors were therapists, therapy students and teachers. Focus groups were conducted with instructors (n=11) to identify themes on Yoga Program feasibility and effectiveness. Some children were measured pre and post Program to evaluate changes in motor (n=38) and social (n=13) skills. Data analysis included mixed methods approaches.

Results: Themes from focus groups suggest that instructors: 1) valued interdisciplinary team approaches, 2) considered the Yoga Program a good fit for Head Start; and 3) observed positive changes in child motor development. Preliminary analyses of child outcome measures suggest that children improved on motor planning and strength but not on behavioral or social-emotional factors.

Conclusion: Yoga Programs using an interdisciplinary model may be feasible and effective to promote motor and social skills in pre-school children in Head Start. However, future studies should evaluate environmental adaptations and Program duration to support child social and motor skill development.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe design, implementation and evaluation of Group Yoga Programs in Head Start. Evaluate the feasibility of a Group Yoga Program in Head Start.

Keyword(s): Child Health Promotion, Children With Special Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an associate professor in child health promotion, child development and children with special health care needs. I conduct research in these areas and design and evaluate health promotion programs to facilitate active, healthy lifestyles in children with special needs. I have presented my research internationally and have published in numerous journals.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.