WHAT IS POWERS?
About POWERS/Our Philosophy
POWERS provides children with a language and a structure by which to engage in learning the many skills that make up executive functioning and social-emotional intelligence. Each POWERS vocabulary word is a skill. The idea is that once we have a name for something we can label it, retrieve it more readily, and learn to apply it.
POWERS is not about telling children what to do, it is about teaching them to notice what works for them, to see cause and effect and how to “connect the dots.”
The POWERS curriculum integrates reflective learning and mindfulness in order to help children regulate their emotions and improve their ability to self-monitor. The POWERS Program empowers children to learn to better manage themselves.
We offer virtual and in-person, one-on-one POWERS Coaching as well as POWERS Parenting and POWERS for Educators workshops throughout the year. We find that we are most successful in helping children when we partner with educators and parents and empower them with the skills and strategies to support their children’s/students' learning and growth.
An executive functioning and social-emotional learning curriculum developed since 2010 by Dr. Tamar Kahane to help students learn to become independent and adapt to increasingly challenging times and expectations.
Why POWERS? Why now?
POWERS’ underlying philosophy is hinged upon a paradigm shift. Rather than tell children what to do, we need to teach them to notice for themselves what works and what doesn’t in their lives. Rather than being their “bosses”, we need to help them to learn to become effective managers of themselves.
Difficulties with executive functioning make it difficult to categorize and organize information in our brain and so the term POWERS is a helpful tool in and of itself. The name POWERS is a color-coded acronym to help children to remember the six basic core EF and SEL skills -Prioritize, Organize, Work, Exercise, Regulate, and Social Awareness.
POWERS provides children with a language and a structure by which to engage in learning the many skills that make up executive functioning and social-emotional learning. Each POWERS vocabulary word is a skill. The idea is that once you have a name for the skill, you can label it, readily retrieve it, and learn to use it.
Very often people confuse knowledge and skills but there is a critical difference. Knowledge is easy to acquire. Skill is not! With repeated practice and hard work, POWERS enables children, parents, and educators to acquire skills and be more effective in reaching their own goals.
What is Executive Functioning?
Executive Functioning (EF) is what enables us to manage our world. It is what allows us to plan, organize, strategize, pay attention, and remember details. EF skills allow us to self-monitor. They are the skills necessary for organizing our lives and achieving our goals. They enable us to sequence the steps needed to execute all of the projects that we are faced with - from simple tasks like getting ready for school or work in the morning to more complex tasks like longer-term school or work projects.
EF skills are primarily mediated in the prefrontal lobe which is the last part of the brain to develop. In fact, it doesn’t fully develop until we reach our mid-twenties. While some children struggle significantly with developing EF skills, all children can benefit from the support that increases awareness and facilitates the development of these EF skills. Weaknesses in executive functioning can make it very challenging to succeed in school, at work, and in our role as parents.
Children with ADHD as well as many other learning difficulties struggle with executive functioning and especially benefit from targeted intervention to support growth in this area. The POWERS program, a meta-cognitive approach to teaching children to develop self-awareness and learn to self-monitor, has been proven to be a very effective intervention.
EF skills are now more critical than ever. Developing these skills will ensure a child’s ability to succeed in an overstimulated world of phones, video games, tablets, and streaming TV and videos. Our current reality during this pandemic, with all of its challenges, has also only intensified the need for us to teach our children how to self-monitor and self-regulate emotionally, behaviorally, and academically.
Evolution of POWERS
In 2010, Dr. Kahane pioneered a creative technique to teach executive functioning called the POWER Program based on developing awareness and a language that targets the multitude of skills that make up EF. Initially, POWER was run as a summer program at the Center and offered for children who struggled with executive functioning deficits. Hundreds of children with ADHD and other identified learning difficulties participated in the program. Following requests by many parents, the program was expanded to children who did not have identified EF struggles. As POWER continued to evolve a booster program was developed to provide children with an opportunity to practice applying these skills during the school year. Later, POWER was implemented at a summer camp for gifted children at Lehman college where it received high accolades. This further confirmed how important these skills were for all children. With this in mind, the POWER curriculum was reworked and further developed to become an SEL and EF school-based curriculum. In 2019 -2020 this curriculum was piloted in the Bergen County school system where it was incredibly well received by administrators, teachers, and students. During the course of this pilot, a study was run with the help of Columbia University researching POWER‘s effectiveness in six public school classrooms. The results of this research confirmed that POWERS is an evidence-based approach to helping children with executive functioning and emotional and behavioral regulation.
In 2022, in keeping with one of our core beliefs, a growth mindset, we have continued to evolve, adding an S to POWER and have renamed it POWERS. The S stands for social awareness which we feel has become increasingly critical to target and teach to children. We believe that if we can intervene early on in teaching children to perspective take, practice empathy, and learn to notice the difference between mindfulness and judgmentalism then we can help create a safer and more equitable world.
Columbia University Study
The POWERS Curriculum was piloted in a number of schools in New Jersey where a preliminary study was done under the auspices of Columbia University demonstrating the effectiveness of POWERS. The study was subsequently published in a prestigious journal and is titled “Effectiveness of the POWER Program in Improving Physical Activity and Executive Functioning in Fifth Grade Students” (Journal of School Health, July 2021).
See POWERS in action at the Washington School in Bergen County, NJ.
"The road to POWERS has truly been a life-long mission and passion project. I feel deeply that as parents and educators, the greatest gift we can give our children is the skills to authentically learn how to manage themselves (socially, emotionally, and academically). If we can do this before they go off to college, then we can sleep at night knowing that they are safe and fortified to become contributing members of society."
- Tamar Z. Kahane, Psy.D
About our Founder
Dani Lefkowitz is a second-year doctoral student studying School and Clinical Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. Before pursuing psychology, she worked as a teacher in diverse settings; first, as a sixth-grade teacher at Success Academy and then as a fourth-grade teacher at a specialized school for children with language-based learning disabilities in Manhattan. She earned her BA in History from Barnard College in 2019. This coming academic year, Dani will be working at The Avenues School as a school psychology extern. At The Kahane Center, Dani provides one-on-one POWERS coaching to help children and adolescents utilize strategies to overcome their executive functioning challenges.