Early Learning System
Initiative: PAX Good Behavior Game
PAX Good Behavior Game
The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) is a simple tool used during classroom instruction in the elementary school grades. It teaches children to have voluntary control over their attention and increase their ability to self-regulate. The game has shown improvement in life outcomes of each child.
Before implementing PAX games, teachers and students create a vision of a beautiful school. Teachers place children on balanced teams in the classroom and “compete” to create more PAX for the classroom and to have fewer disturbances. As students succeed, they “win” simple activity rewards for a few seconds or minutes of fun. Students learn to play the game longer and longer as they develop greater self-regulation and learn to work together for mutual benefit.
Children are not born with self-regulation skills and require early opportunities in their home, school, and community to develop these skills.
Both national experts and local teachers identify self-regulation skills as one of the most critical factors for long-term success.
Self-regulation influences long-term behavioral, mental and physical health. It also determines healthy decision-making, impulse control, maintenance of healthy relationships, persistence, and resilience.
The PAX Network
All seven Elkhart County school districts have trained PAX Partners and teachers to implement PAX Good Behavior Game.
Indicators of Success
Data collected on newly trained teachers shows classrooms implementing PAX GBG with fidelity have experienced a 50-97% reduction in negative child behaviors.
In the first full year of implementation, 2013-2014, HEA conducted a comprehensive evaluation in the five participating districts. Results showed a significant reduction in problem behaviors across all participants.
In 2016-2017, HEA collected data on teachers who fully implemented PAX GBG, compared to those with some implementation and those did not implement at all. On average, classrooms with full implementation of PAX GBG experienced a 73% decline in negative behaviors, compared to a 48% decline in partially implementing classrooms and a 25% decline in classrooms that did not implement.
Solution and Overarching Goal
Adults teach self-regulation skills through activities and environments they provide for children. PAX GBG helps students build self-regulation skills at the same time as they learn their regular academic content.
The game increases the amount of focused learning in the classroom. Studies have shown PAX GBG reduced aggressive and disruptive behavior during 1st-grade. Participants also had lower rates of growth of aggressive behavior in middle school.
By ages 19-21, receiving PAX GBG in 1st-grade showed prevention of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, reduced the risk of alcohol and substance abuse or dependence, and reduced the use of mental health and drug services.
PAX Good Behavior Games History with HEA
HEA staff identified PAX GBG in a 2013 research effort as an evidence-based intervention that gives children lasting self-regulation skills. In Spring of 2013, three school districts piloted PAX GBG in thirteen classrooms. The results were significant, and there was a strong affirmation for expansion.
In Fall 2014, Dr. Dennis Embry, the founder of the PAXIS Institute and a leading expert in the behavioral sciences, provided a customized PAX Partner training for Elkhart County
The goal was to scale-up PAX across the county. Over 40 administrators, counselors, and behavioral specialists trained to become PAX Partners, representing almost every elementary school in Elkhart County. This local training was the first of its kind in the nation.
Today, every school district and 95% of all Elkhart County elementary schools now have teachers trained to use PAX GBG, with 300 teachers trained in PAX GBG in Elkhart County.
Elkhart County has developed a special “PAX Week” to encourage the sustained use of PAX in the classroom. In the first PAX Week (February 2016), 63 classrooms across the county took part and gained 15,555 PAX Minutes (259 hours) of focused learning.