Hocus Focus: Teaching children in the classroom with a little help from magic
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- To teaching artist, Kevin Spencer, there is no such thing as impossible.
"You look at things in the world, and go that's not possible and I think that nothing is impossible," he said.
He has magic to thank for that. Spencer has been interested in magic since he was five-years-old, but he realized he could use magic to help people; it started in hospitals.
"My wife and I developed a treatment program that uses simple little magic tricks as a form of occupational therapy," Spencer said.
The program, Healing of Magic, started at Virginia Baptist Hospital and is now in 2,500 hospitals and rehab centers in more than 30 countries around the world. The occupational therapy is also endorsed by the American Medical Association.
"When you realize what you do as an entertainer has the ability to impact somebody's life in ways that are bigger than making them laugh," said Spencer.
Now, with Hocus Focus, Spencer teaches children with learning differences with a goal of using the arts to help children who learn differently, learn better.
Hocus Focus is centered around bringing magic tricks into the classroom, "we look at cognition, motor skills, communication, social skills, and flexible thinking and creativity," Spencer said.
"Every trick in the program ties to a standard of learning in math science and language arts," explained Spencer. "When you're curious about something, you are more willing to learn about it."
"My favorite part about magic is how it helps people who have they can't focus that much, focus on what they're doing or what people are doing," said Trey Green, a 6th grader at New Vistas School.
Jacob Owen, who wants to be a magician when he grows up, says his favorite part about magic is tricking people.
A Criss Angel fan, now he has a new favorite magician to look up to, Mr. Spencer.
Hocus focus is being used in a couple hundred schools in the United States, of those, there are 25 schools or districts participating in the research study.
Every child has the ability learn, "we just have to find the best way to teach them," said Spencer.
And if you pay close attention, you might just see something magical.
Teachers at New Vistas School will start including the magic into their curriculum and Spencer will be back a couple times a year to check in on the children.