In many of my blog posts I reference Leaps. Leaps is the outcome of years of research and work with social and emotional development and education, behavior change programming, and educational administrative and classroom resource development. All of that is to say that Leaps is great resource for anyone working with kids who wants those kids to develop, integrate, and flourish within their social, family, and school settings.
So to answer your question, "What is Leaps?" Here you go:
Leaps has been used in schools for many years for social and emotional development as well as behavioral change programming. One of the primary reasons Leaps has been successful in both intervening and preventative practices is because it was researched, vetted, and implemented in clinical outpatient settings for children and adolescents with emotional disorders and then grew to become a robust resource for educators-- for not only behaviorally involved students but also for social and emotional education and development for all kids, intervention and prevention.
Leaps was created to be an intervention that focused on the social and emotional maturity of the student. This was done by focusing on Psychosocial Indicators. These are the events that occur around someone that can trigger an episodic or single reaction/behavior that is aberrant and often times indicative of either emotional instability or experiential deficits (the leading causes of significant behaviors in students). Leaps was built by reverse engineering the psychosocial process by interviewing over 600 people and breaking down the social, emotional, clinical, functioning, and adaptive behaviors necessary to succeed and function in real world settings. These settings were defined as home, school, and social for children and preadolescences and then vocational was added for adolescents and early adults.
When the interview process was complete, the Leaps team had identified 109 skills necessary for socially independent youths functioning in the "Formal Operations" phase of learning (typically grades 7-12), 89 skills for non-socially independent youths who were in the "Concrete" phase of development (typically grades 3-6), and 44 skills for the youngest learners who were still in the "Intuitive" phase of learning development (typically pre-k - 2). These skills provided a roadmap to both intervening in aberrant responses to behavioral stimulus as well as a preventative framework for addressing and redressing skills that were either absent or deficient.
The ability to address and redress skills deficiencies were made possible by the creation of a multi-modal, multi-platform assessment process. This assessment process is an outstanding identifier of student needs in regards to maturity and development training. Leaps utilizes this assessing process to determine an individual student's strength and deficits from a psychosocial skills standpoint, and then creates a behavior intervention plan based upon these assessed needs. This assessing process was necessary under the mental health/clinical umbrella for the treatment planning and plan of care revisions of managed care where Leaps was first developed. This same formula is a perfect fit for the managed resource initiatives in schools such as Response to Intervention (RTI), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and even base protocols such as Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Behavior Improvement Plans (BIPs).
Finally, Leaps has taken the extensive step of aligning every Leaps lesson with the Common Core Standards. This was done so that educators could begin to see that behaviors occur in the classroom and can be dealt with in the classroom from both an intervening small group as well as a preventative class-wide initiative and even one-on-one settings. The tie in with academics is that educators can utilize Leaps within the framework of their daily lessons as well as in set aside time for social, maturation, and emotional development. This creates a better learning environment and it also helps the students see the need for behavioral control in the class, not just in the set aside interventions.
Leaps has demonstrated tremendous success because the bottom line breakdown of the psychosocial process is that Leaps has road mapped the necessary common sense, emotional identification and control, communication, and basic living skills that are necessary for continued growth and maturation. Leaps then tailors the process to a class, a small group, and/or an individual student (Tiers 3, 2, & 1). Managed resource initiatives have been overlayed onto education, and Leaps is a tremendous tool and process for managing resources based on need and then reporting the results in both fidelity and progress formats. This meets both sides of the initiative agenda: Leaps provides evidence based resources to change behaviors and is then able to demonstrate and report the process and the results with quantifiable and demonstrable data.
Most importantly, Leaps provides the educator with the resource and the opportunity to affect real change in their students, their class, and even their own enthusiasm for teaching.