Using a 2GEN Approach to Create Sustainable Change for Students and Families

What does it mean to be a 2GEN program, otherwise known as a two-generation or multi-generational program? Simply put, a 2GEN approach means that the program recognizes the needs of both children and parents or caretakers, working to improve outcomes for the entire family. “The general pattern has been to focus programs on adults or focus programs on children but rarely, if ever, on both at the same time, resulting in fragmented approaches that leave one or the other behind.” -Nebraska Intergenerational Poverty Task Force, Final Report 2GEN programs provide resources in five key areas, as defined by the Ascend at the Aspen Institute: Early childhood education, post-secondary education and employment pathways, health and well-being, economic assets, and social capital. Inner Explorer is proud to offer a 2GEN program that focuses on two of these core areas – early childhood education and health and well-being.

The Five Key Focus Areas of 2GEN Programs.

Health and Well-being
All Inner Explorer programs work to improve the mental health and well-being of school communities, including school staff, students and their families. Many of the populations we serve are high-impact schools, with students and families dealing with adversity and trauma in daily life. Our mindfulness based social emotional learning (MBSEL) exercises work to deregulate the nervous system and break the cycle of chronic stress, which is often associated with adversity and trauma. This allows students and their families to pursue their full potential. The release of our new TuneIn feature bridges the gap between school and home by allowing families to join in on daily mindfulness practices in real-time. Families can sign up to receive a notification when their student is practicing mindfulness in class, and opt to listen to the same practice. Additionally, families can practice at home together through our Home app.

Early Childhood Education
Our focus on early childhood education involves expanding the use of Inner Explorer Pre-K programs in Head Start classrooms. In December 2020, our partners at Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg completed an independent research study on the use of Inner Explorer programs in Head Start classrooms. The study looked at school readiness (executive function, emotional regulation, langage and pre-literacy), health outcomes, and change in quality of child-teacher interactions around emotional support, organization, and instructional support. “This evaluation of the Inner Explorer program is one of the first randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to show that a 5-minute daily mindfulness intervention can positively influence student and educator outcomes in Head Start classrooms,” says Dr. Lisa M. López and Dr. Jennifer Marshall. After implementing the Inner Explorer program, preschool students performed better on executive function measures of inhibiting impulsive responses and flexibly shifting attention between multiple tasks.

Looking Ahead
Mindfulness has the power to create widespread change from the inside out for both children and adults. As Inner Explorer looks forward, we aim to continue developing innovative 2GEN approaches that foster sustainable change for students and their families.