This lesson presents information about (a) the history of Hawai’i, (b) cultural values connected to the Nā Hopena A’o Framework, (c) KEEP and CREDE, and (d) suggested family engagement strategies.


The Role of Family in Hawaiian Culture

Family, or ‘ohana, is core in Hawaiian culture. Families consist of more than parents and children, they include uncles, aunties, cousins, grandparents and extended family members. Hanai members of the family are those who are fully included, but may not be tied by blood, such as those who are formally or informally fostered, adopted, or simply included. These relationships impart knowledge, values, and wisdom within and between generations. Healthy families result in healthy communities as relationships create connections and empower people, families and communities to grow and adapt. It is important to develop relationships with all family members who are responsible for supporting children’s education–this may include parents, grandparents, or other relatives, depending on their roles in the household.

A Brief History of Hawai'i

The Hawaiian Islands consist of eight major islands (from east to west: Hawai’i Island, Maui, Lanai, Moloka’i, O‘ahu, Kauai, Niihau and Kahoolawe) and numerous additional islets with only wildlife inhabitants that stretch over 1,500 miles to the north and west. Sojourners first settled in what is now known as  the Hawaiian islands between 124 and 1120 A.D. They were Polynesian in race, and there are similarities in language between the Hawaiian language and other Polynesian languages, notably Sāmoan. Hawaiians were fairly isolated for at least 500 years, and they developed a complex religious, social and political system that flourished until influences from foreigners including whalers and traders from Europe and the US caused changes (Tau-Tassil, et al., 2016). 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Hawaii was a resting place for whalers and then for traders crossing the Pacific. Sexually transmitted and other diseases, such as Hansen’s disease or leprosy, caught from these travelers, devastated the populations of Hawaii and other island communities. 

James Cook, a British explorer, is generally credited with leading the first group of Europeans to Hawaii in 1778. He found a divided chain of islands with individual chieftains, but a rising Chief in Kamehameha the Great who eventually united the islands using warfare and diplomacy before his death in 1819. Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779 at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island, but other explorers and traders came to the islands, introducing change and disease.

Kamehameha’s son, Liholiho, who became king after the death of his father, based on prodding from Queen Ka’ahumanu, Kāmehameha’s favorite wife and his own mother, Keōpūolani, ended the kapu system that dictated relationships between men and women, among people of different classes, and between people and their gods (Tau-Tassill et al., 2016, p. 91). This was the beginning of many changes to Hawaiian culture related to influences from Westerners.

American traders became quite powerful in the islands, and by the late 19th century took political and financial control of Hawaii. The traders planted sugar cane and other crops and imported immigrant labor from China, Japan, Portugal, Korea, the Philippines, Spain, and other areas to work the fields. Missionaries also found their way to the islands and became quite established, subverting traditional religious and social practices such as hula, traditional dress, polygamy and multiple gods. Because of the collapse of the kapu system, Hawaiians were more open to accepting new religious practices, and Christianity took hold firmly. By the 1880s, sugar magnates were clamoring for annexation to the US so they could market their sugar there. A group of businessmen formed an armed militia in Honolulu, forcing King Kamehameha to accept a new constitution that decreased his power considerably. In 1893, the militia, with the help of U.S. marines, deposed the monarchy and imprisoned Queen Liliu’okalani in her palace. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States, and it became a State in 1959. These dates do not describe the high levels of physical and cultural strife and conflict for the Hawaiian people due to unlawful and immoral acts by the United States such as the annexation of the islands to the US, imprisonment of Queen Liliu’okalani, forbidding Hawaiian language and culture, and treating Native Hawaiians as second-class citizens. The resulting trauma continues to affect Native Hawaiian identity and culture as well as relationships among groups in the islands. As Young (1980) described, 

The impact of new ways, new peoples, new religions, has not worn off; some Native Hawaiians are still struggling to find ways of dealing and coping with cultural conflicts, while at the same time attempting to discover their ties with the past. (p. 9)


Asset-based review of Native Hawaiian Education process/programs

Education for Hawaiians was through oral communication and memorization, and varied for different classes of children. Generally, children first observed or listened to adults, then tried to do the tasks themselves, practicing until they became proficient. Oral traditions included chants, genealogies, legends and stories, many of which persist today (Tau-Tasill, 2016, p. 123). American missionaries, wanting people to be familiar with the Bible, first taught the ali’i, or the ruling class, who then supported teaching the common people. They developed an orthography, or written language for the Hawaiian language, and started printing books, hymnals and newspapers in Hawaiian. In 1824, school houses were built, and most adults went to school to learn to read and write the Hawaiian language. Top students then started schools of their own; by 1830, at least half of adults were literate in their own language and were familiar with the Bible. 

This system began to fall apart due to the limited training that teachers had, and missionaries started a teacher training program at Lahainaluna on Maui. They also started two types of schools for children, common schools for children of commoners that were taught by native teachers with missionary supervision, and select schools for children of ali’i that were taught by missionaries (Tau-Tasill, 2016, p. 126). Hawai’i became one of the most literate places in the world. In the 1840s, the Hawaiian government took responsibility for schools, and missionaries were relegated to churches. This new type of education omitted traditional skills such as planting, fishing, moral values and cultural skills in favor of reading, writing and arithmetic. Although Hawaiian children became educated in these things, jobs using these skills were scarce when they graduated, and they lacked the skills to work on the land that had sustained them for so long. This was the beginning of a disillusionment with this new way of life, and confusion related to cultural loss and identity. 

In 1896 a law was passed stating that “the English language shall be the medium of instruction in all public and private schools” (Dukelow, 2021), effectively banning the Hawaiian language in education. In 1898, when the US annexed Hawaii, there were 140 public and 55 private schools. Compare this with the 294 public and charter and 134 private schools today. Yet, not all children had access to schooling due to lack of transportation. Most schools ended at grade 6 because many in power felt that it was not only not necessary to educate them longer, but dangerous! This attitude changed after a federal survey in 1920 that recommended more high schools and junior high schools so that all children could be educated. The survey also recommended closing all foreign language schools and grouping students by their abilities to speak, read, and write English. Although there was an effort to abolish ethnic language schools, which taught children the language and culture of their home countries, this was finally deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927 (Tamura, 1993, p. 44). 

English Standard Schools, however, were developed for children whose English language skills were strong. Children tested into these schools, which were considered elite, and children with lesser English skills were relegated to public schools. In 1948, the Territorial Legislature ended funding for English Standard schools.

By World War II, almost 80% of all Japanese heritage children attended a Japanese language school in addition to public schooling, approximately 20,000 of them (Tamura, 1993). The war forced all language and English standard schools to close, mostly because many White children were sent to the U.S. continent, and many Japanese families were sent to internment camps. In addition, the war disrupted public schooling and children were expected to help with various war efforts such as rolling bandages, gardening, and other activities (Tau-Tasill, 2016, p. 260).

Starting in the 1960s, a resurgence of Hawaiian culture and pride has grown within the Hawaiian community and has resulted in political, educational and social changes. These changes were supported through contact with Māori people in New Zealand who were also working to revitalize their language and culture. Although there were many attempts prior, finally amendments to the State Constitution in 1978 made Hawaiian an official language of the State and promoted Hawaiian culture and education through other amendments. In 1983, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, a Hawaiian language-based preschool, was established on O’ahu and in Hilo through the efforts of a group of Hawaiian language educators. In 1985, the first private Hawaiian language preschool started. A law banning Hawaiian language schools was repealed in 1986 (Ke Ke’ena Kaiapuni, 2015). In 1987, two Hawaiian immersion schools were started in Keaukaha and Waiau Elementary schools. In 1988 one K-12 Kaiapuni school was started. At the time of this writing, there were 28 public programs across the state, on all of the major islands, and six charter schools using Hawaiian language. In 1983, less than 40 children spoke Hawaiian, and in 1985, over 2500 children were enrolled in Hawaiian immersion programs. In the 2010 census, over 24,000 families reported that Hawaiian was the language spoken at home (University of Hawaii Foundation, 2022). 

In 2007, the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge was established at the University of Hawai’i’s Mānoa campus. It includes the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, and the Ka Papa Lo‘i O Kānewai Cultural Garden. Its mission is to “pursue, perpetuate, research, and revitalize all areas and forms of Hawaiian knowledge (Hawai’inuiākea, 2022).

These Hawaiian immersion programs and additional Hawaiian cultural-based charter schools embed Hawaiian culture and philosophy throughout education. 

At the core of the philosophy’s foundation lies the mauli Hawai’i, the unique life force which is cultivated by, emanates from, and distinguishes a person who self-identifies as a Hawaiian. If tended properly, this mauli, like a well-tended fire, can burn brightly. If not, like a neglected fire, it can die out. (Kauahipaula, et al., p. 17)

Relationships among people, especially family members, often take precedence over other distinctions such as gender, and these differences are part of the language where gender is non specific (Kauahipaula et al. 2009). Promoting the group, such as the ‘ohana (family) or hui (group), often provides greater motivation and energy than promoting the self and one’s own achievements. Translated to the classroom, group activities and rewards can often be more successful than individual ones (Gallimore & Howard, 1968). 

Dukelow, K. (2021, Nov. 8). A History of Hawaiian Language Immersion Education. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx2ywUzzY2Q

Hawai’inuiākea. (2022). Eia Hawaiʻinuiākea. https://manoa.hawaii.edu/hshk/

Ke Keʻena Kaiapuni, Office of Hawaiian Education. (2015). The Foundational and Administrative Framework For Kaiapuni Education: Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. Hawaii Department of Education. 

Kauahipaula, E., Kanahele, E., Kimura, L., Wilson, W. H., Silva, K., Kamanā, K., Alencastre, M., Kawai’ae’a, K., & Akana, K. (2009). Kumu Honua Mauli Ola: A Native Hawaiian Educational Philosophy Statement. no ka ‘Aha Pūnana Leo.

Tamura, E. H. (1993). The English-only effort, the anti-Japanese campaign, and language acquisition in the education of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, 1915-40. JSTOR, 33(1): 37-58. 


University of Hawaiian Foundation. (2022). Saving the Hawaiian Language. https://www.uhfoundation.org/saving-hawaiian-language


Cultural Values and the Nā Hopena A'o Framework

This section presents some of the cultural values that are important to Native Hawaiians. As Mokuau and Tauili‘ili (2011) explained, “Values represent what is deemed to be important in life and thereby serve as an index and a guide to the way people define themselves and the world in which they live” (p. 371). While exploring the values of different cultures, two aspects must be considered: (a) definitions and forms of values may change over time and (b) peoples’ perceptions and adherence to the same values may vary (Mokuau, 2011). Furthermore, it is important to understand that since the arrival of English ships led by Captain James Cook in 1778, Native Hawaiian values have significantly altered due to the influence of Western religions, lifestyles, and behaviors (Mokuau & Tauili‘ili, 2011).

To ground K-12 student outcomes in Native Hawaiian values, the Nā Hopena A‘o Statements, or HĀ Framework (HĀ means “breath” in the Hawaiian language) were developed by the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) and supported by the Board of Education (2015). The Statements consist of six student outcomes that are focused on holistic wellbeing in Native Hawaiian culture: (a) a sense of Belonging, (b) Responsibility, (c) Excellence, (d), Aloha, (e) Total Wellbeing, and (f) Hawai‘i. Taken together, “these outcomes become the core BREATH (or HĀ) that can be drawn on for strength and stability throughout school and beyond” (HiDOE, 2015).

We selected concepts and phrases that may be particularly relevant to educators in Hawai‘i K-12 schools and have connected them to the six student outcomes identified in the Nā Hopena A‘o Statements. It is important to understand the HĀ Framework and Native Hawaiian values, particularly as we consider the impact of colonialism on Hawaiian people and culture, as well as the efforts of the Native Hawaiian community toward cultural restoration and revitalization. Educators may find this information helpful in understanding student and family responses to their teaching. Additionally, as Chun (2006a) stated in his Ka Wana Series of books on Native Hawaiian cultural values, for those who are not Native Hawaiian, learning the Native Hawaiian stories and values that he described may help folks “begin a new journey to deeply understanding our people, and our ways of living. You may find new cultural tools that could help your own family situations” (p. xv). 

Nā Hopena A’o- A System of Hawaiian Values

Below, the HIDOE description of each outcome is provided, followed by one to three related values in Hawaiian culture. The complete Nā Hopena A‘o Statements document can be found through the link below the infographic.

Infographic showing the six component of the Nā Hopena A'o Framework

Hawaii Department of Education (2015). Nā Hopena A‘o statements [Infographic]. Nā Hopena A‘o Statements. https://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/DOE%20Forms/NaHopenaAoE3.pdf 

1. Strengthened Sense of Belonging:

HĀ Statement: “I stand firm in my space with a strong foundation of relationships. A sense of Belonging is demonstrated through an understanding of lineage and place and a connection to past, present, and future. I am able to interact respectfully for the betterment of self and others.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Value
    •  ‘Ike Pono means to know, to feel, to understand
      • ‘Ike is a Hawaiian word for knowing or seeing. Pono means right or righteous (Chun, 2006a), and when used as a noun, it means to purpose or plan. Therefore, ‘ike pono means to know with absolute certainty and clarity who you really are both individually and within your family and community. Mililani Trask (1993) described ‘ike pono as the Hawaiian term for “righteousness understanding” (p.106), which she and her sister, Haunani-Kay Trask, believed to be a particularly important concept for the Native Hawaiian Sovereignty movement.

2. Strengthened Sense of Responsibility:

HĀ Statement: “I willingly carry my responsibility for self, family, community and the larger society. A sense of Responsibility is demonstrated by a commitment and concern for others. I am mindful of the values, needs and welfare of others.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Value
    • Kuleana means privilege, responsibility, title, job
      • Kuleana refers to having a personal sense of responsibility (Pukui & Elbert, 1981). It encourages us to be accountable in all that we do. For example, kuleana is strongly emphasized in the relationship between people and the land. We have a responsibility to care for it and preserve it so it will provide for us and future generations. When one accepts their kuleana, they value it and the person they become when their kuleana is fulfilled. Therefore, our kuleana drives our actions and all that we do.

3. Strengthened Sense of Excellence:

HĀ Statement: “I believe I can succeed in school and life and am inspired to care about the quality of my work. A sense of Excellence is demonstrated by a love of learning and the pursuit of skills, knowledge and behaviors to reach my potential. I am able to take intellectual risks and strive beyond what is expected.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Value
    • A‘o is the Hawaiian word for education, but also implies to learn (a‘o mai) and to teach (a‘o aku) (Chun, 2006b). 
      • The sense of giving and receiving in education supports the thought that in traditional Hawaiian society and culture, “relationships and belonging are primary actions. It is the idea that as one learns and becomes skilled (mastery); knowledge and skill are to be used and shared with others (generosity). This builds relationships of mutual dependence and support, bringing families and community together” (Chun, 2006c, p.1). Chun (2006b) described how Mary Kawena Pukui was the first person to articulate traditional patterns of education, which are (a) observation, (b) listening, (c) reflection, (d) “doing the task,” and (e) questioning.

 4. Strengthened Sense of Aloha:

HĀ Statement: “I show care and respect for myself, families, and communities. A sense of Aloha is demonstrated through empathy and appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between all. I am able to build trust and lead for the good of the whole.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Values 
    • Aloha means caring, compassion for others, love, affection
      • The term aloha is increasingly addressed in academic literature due to how frequently and widely it is used.  According to Mokuau (2011), a Native Hawaiian academic and researcher, many Native Hawaiian values are related to relationships with others, especially among one’s ‘ohana (family) and the ‘āina (environment/nature). One commonly known Native Hawaiian value is aloha, although according to Ohnuma (2008), several Hawaiian sources have reported that the term did not have its current prominence in precontact Hawai‘i.
      • Aloha has several meanings, including love, affection, compassion, mercy, greeting, and regards (Pukui & Elbert, 1981). George Kanahele (1986) discussed one study that found 123 definitions of aloha. Kanahele also reported that the earliest uses of aloha emphasized “love of kin,” which also included ancestors. In addition, aloha is used to express a sense of welcome that should be extended to strangers and visitors. Although traditionally, aloha illustrated the mother-child relationship, “it also extends to include the broader kinship network and the community-at-large” (Mokuau, 2011, p. 102).
    • Kokua means to help, assist, comfort, support
      • Kokua is another well known value that is frequently seen throughout Hawai‘i. It means to extend love and kindness to others for their benefit and not expect anything in return, and assist or relieve (Kanahele, 1986). Social interdependence has a significant role in Hawaiian culture, and when people sacrificially give back, the whole community benefits. This concept of selflessness has helped maintain relationships in Native Hawaiian communities for centuries, and it emphasizes that when people come together, they can do more than they ever could accomplish individually.
    • Laulima means “many hands working together”
      • Laulima is an especially important value in Hawaiian culture because working together is imperative to the community’s success. It truly embodies what it means to live aloha. Chun (2009) shared this definition of laulima: “Cooperation is the key to success” (p. 35). Another phrase useful in understanding the value of laulima is “many hands make light work.” There is profound power in people working in unity.
    • Mālama means caring, nurturing others, to protect
      • Mālama is the value of taking care of, preserving, protecting, and attending to what needs us with acceptance and compassion (Jupp, 2017). It is often connected with caring for the land – mālama ka ‘āina, which Nelson (2008) stated is at the core of every Hawaiian value. For example, Hawai‘i beach and park cleanup events are held on most weekends by local businesses, schools, churches, or other social groups. Another example is the growing efforts to promote limu (seaweed) restoration. Hawaiian culture has a strong emphasis on raising and taking care of future generations; therefore, it is important to mālama young people by guiding them through life and teaching them values that will shape their communities.
    • ‘Ohana: family
      • ‘Ohana is perhaps one of the most famous Hawaiian words and values. Most folks know that ‘ohana means family, but in Hawaiian culture, family extends beyond blood ties. Adults are often called “auntie” or “uncle” by their friends’ children because they are considered ‘ohana as well. Social groups can connect ‘ohana, for example, school ‘ohana, church ‘ohana, and work ‘ohana. Being part of an ‘ohana means having a sense of kuleana toward members of that group. This could include caring for older family members, helping provide for younger children, and generally taking care of each other.

5. Strengthened Sense of Total Well-being:

HĀ Statement: “I learn about and practice a healthy lifestyle. A sense of Total Well-being is demonstrated by making choices that improve the mind, body, heart and spirit. I am able to meet the demands of school and life while contributing to the well-being of family, ‘āina, community and world.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Values 
    • Lōkahi means unity, agreement, accord
      • Lokahi refers to having “harmony between man, nature, and the gods [which is] essential for holistic health. Without lōkahi, there is illness” (Chang, 2001). While it is important to remain balanced within ourselves, it is also important to maintain balance and harmony with our communities. The value of Lokahi reminds us to take care of our own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, and to offer support to those around us as they work to maintain their own balance.
    • Ho‘oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness
      • Ho‘ponopono is a process that includes inwardly searching for any hard feelings toward someone in one’s family in order for ill family members to begin healing. After identifying any hard feelings or grudges, the family would forgive each other right way, which strengthened their bond. “The burden of the problems needed to be lifted from their minds before their bodies were ready for medical treatment (Chun, 2006c, p. 4). Chun (2006c) explained that Mary Kawena Pukui, a translator and consultant at the Bishop Museum in Hawai’i, strove to preserve the practice of Ho‘oponopono by collaborating with with mental health professionals and early childhood educators to “codify” (p. 3) ho‘oponopono so it could be understand and learned by today’s professionals and families. Importantly, in the Hawaiian language, when a word is repeated, it emphasizes its importance. Therefore, ho‘oponopono means “to make very pono” (Chun, 2006c, p. 5).

6. Strengthened Sense of Hawai‘i:

HĀ Statement: “I am enriched by the uniqueness of this prized place. A sense of Hawai‘i is demonstrated through an appreciation for its rich history, diversity and indigenous language and culture. I am able to navigate effectively across cultures and communities and be a steward of the homeland.”

  • Related Native Hawaiian Values 
    • Pono means right, good, moral, fair, just
      • Although there is no literal translation of pono in English, it refers to the value of making things right and what is moral and fair (Malo, 1996). This can include making amends and setting things right in our relationships with others, therefore restoring harmony and balance within ourselves and our community. Chun (2006a) suggested that pono best encompasses “many values of the traditional native world” (p. 2) which Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockern identified as (a) belonging, (b) mastery, (c) independence, and (d) generosity. Pono is not an abstract concept in Hawaiian culture; it is a way of life and being (Chun, 2006a).

Brendtro, L. K., Brokenleg, M., & Van Bockern, S. (2002). Reclaiming youth at risk : our hope for the future (Rev. ed.). Solution Tree.

Chang, H. K. (2001). Hawaiian health practitioners in contemporary society. Pacific Health  Dialogue, 8(2), 260-273. 

Chun, M. N. (2006a). Pono: The way of living. Honolulu: HI: The Curriculum Research and Development Group, University of Hawai‘i. 

Chun, M. N. (2006b). A‘o: Educational traditions. Honolulu: HI: The Curriculum Research and Development Group, University of Hawai‘i. 

Chun, M. N. (2006c). Ho‘oponopono: Traditional ways of healing and making things right again. Honolulu: HI: The Curriculum Research and Development Group, University of Hawai‘i. 

Chun, M. N. (2009). Ho‘onohonoho: Traditional ways of cultural management. Honolulu: HI: The Curriculum Research and Development Group, University of Hawai‘i. 

Kanahele, G. (1986). Ku kanaka: Stand tall. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press and Waiaha Foundation.

Malo, D. (1996). Ka Moolelo Hawaii, Hawaiian Traditions. First People’s Press. 

Mokuau, N. (2011). Culturally based solutions to preserve the health of Native Hawaiians. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work 20(2), 98-113. 

Mokuau, N., & Tauili‘ili, P. (2011). Families with Native Hawaiian and Samoan Roots. In E. W. Lynch & M. J. Hanson (Eds.), Developing Cross-Cultural Competence: A Guide for Working with Children and Their Families (4th ed., pp. 365-391). Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. 

Nelson, S. (2008). Mālama ka ʻāina: Respecting the land. Mother Earth Living. Retrieved from http://www.motherearthliving.com/wiser-living/malama-ka-aina-respecting-land.aspx.

Ohnuma, K. (2008). “Aloha Spirit” and the cultural politics of sentiment as national belonging. The Contemporary Pacific 20(2), 365-394. 

Pukui, M. K., & Elbert, S. H. (1981). Hawaiian dictionary. Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawai‘i.

Trask, H. K., & Trask, M. (2015). Speeches from the centennial of the overthrow. In J. Carroll, B. N. McDougall, & G. Nordstrom (Eds.), Huihui: Navigating art and literature in the Pacific (1st ed., pp. 99-114). University of Hawai‘i Press.


Two important educational efforts in Hawai‘i for educators to be aware of are the Kamehameha Early Education Program (KEEP) and the Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) Hawai‘i Project. KEEP was a research and development group founded in 1970 by Roland Tharp and Ronald Gallimore (Tharp, 1982). The purpose of KEEP was to improve the quality of literacy skills in Native Hawaiian children who were at particular risk for lower student achievement. KEEP worked with children in Kindergarten through third grade, and was funded by Kamehameha Schools and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate. Within a laboratory setting, a literacy curriculum was developed using talk story and peer interactions that integrated Hawaiian culture and language in its approach. Internal and external evaluations indicated that the KEEP curriculum was effective in meeting its goals in Hawai‘i public school classrooms (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). 

KEEP ended in Hawai‘i in the 1990s; however, research that grew out of KEEP continued at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as part of CREDE. CREDE, with both local and national funding, has conducted research around best teaching practices for Indigenous students. In 2001, CREDE adopted the Hawaiian Studies Program (HSP), “a community-based, culturally contextualized program for students grades 10-12” (Yamauchi, Wyatt, & Carroll, 2005, p. 228) located at Wai‘anae High School on O‘ahu. The HSP’s primary goal was to empower students to become productive and contributing members of society as they cared for the land and natural resources in their communities. At the time, Wai‘anae High School had one of the highest dropout rates in the state, and even when students remained in school, academic achievement tended to be low. The HSP integrated Hawaiian values, knowledge, and practices within traditional science, social studies, and English curricula. Yamauchi et al. (2005) described several indicators found in follow up studies of the HSP’s success, including improved attendance rates and GPAs, higher likelihood of enrollment in higher education, and increased student connectedness with their communities.  

The HSP exemplified CREDE’s Five Standards of teaching (Yamauchi, 2002). As explained by Yamauchi et al. (2005), the five standards are:

  1. Joint Productive Activity – The teacher and the students work collaboratively on a project, or students work together on a project in small groups or in pairs.
  2. Language and Literacy Development – The teacher provides opportunities for literacy development through reading, writing, or speaking activities.
  3. Contextualization – The teacher makes intentional connections between students’ prior knowledge and experiences and new activities and information.
  4. Challenging Activities – The teacher implements instructional activities that connect to academic material or that advance student learning of complex content.
  5. Instructional Conversation: The teacher participates in small group discussions with students and teaches through dialogue while having a clear academic goal for the conversation.

There are also now two additional standards (see website URL below):

  1. Modeling – The teacher models behaviors and procedures, providing students opportunities to learn through observation.
  2. Child Directed Activity (CDA) – The teacher promotes student decision making through offering activity choices and being responsive to the ideas they generate. 

The CREDE Hawai‘i Project is now at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) and has worked in partnership with educators at the UHM Children’s Center to adapt CREDE standards for early childhood and with other researchers to adapt them for higher education. Researchers continue to develop methods to expand teachers’ use of CREDE principles, such as instructional conversations, in public K-12 schools. To learn more about the CREDE Hawai‘i Project, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu/coe/crede/ This website includes further explanation of each of the CREDE Standards, as well as example videos demonstrating each Standard being implemented in early childhood, elementary, and high school classroom settings. 

Family Engagement Strategies

1. Create a Hawaiian Language Hui or Club 

The Papahana Kaiapuni is a K-12 public Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. Luning and Yamauchi (2010) found that families (a) enjoyed participating in the joint hands-on cultural experiences integrated into the curriculum, (b) acknowledged how the program was part of reclaiming their identities as Native Hawaiians, and (c) became involved in the decision making processes of the program and school funding and “used community cultural resources to facilitate their children’s education” (p. 223). Their experiences helped parents see how their roles in their children’s learning was beneficial. 

If your school does not have a Hawaiian Immersion Language Program or hui/club, partner with the Native Hawaiian families of students in your school to create a hui/club. Everyone in the hui/club can make foundational group decisions, such as where and when the hui/club will be held, the structure of the meetings (e.g., talk story, formal lessons, etc.), and creating a volunteer list. Hui members can determine the purpose of the hui/club and its functions.

For more information about the Papahana Kaiapuni program, visit https://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/TeachingAndLearning/StudentLearning/HawaiianEducation/Pages/translation.aspx 


2. Provide Family Engagement Opportunities for Extended Family Members

Throughout the AFFECT modules and lessons, we discuss the importance of educators providing family engagement opportunities for all family members, not only parents and primary caregivers. This is particularly important when working with Native Hawaiian families (Kaomea, 2012). Kaomea shared the personal narratives of two Native Hawaiian families’ who described their experiences with their preschool children’s education. Many Native Hawiian families live with large, extended families under a single roof, often for the purpose of caring for young children in the family. While adults often work multiple jobs, they remain mindful of coordinating their schedules to make sure someone is able to transport the children to school and school-related activities. This traditional way of living in many Indigenous communities may initially appear to conflict with American models of family involvement in education, it can actually support educators’ efforts to broaden family engagement. Grandparents, aunties, uncles, older siblings, cousins, all share responsibility for caring for children in the family. When you plan events and activities that involve volunteers, invite whole families to participate. For example, extend invitations to childrens’ parent-teacher conferences and meetings to the whole family, when possible. 


3. Be Willing to Help Fill in the Gaps for Absent Extended Family Members 

On the flip side, it is also important for educators to be aware that nuclear families often live far away from their extended families. Parents may look to their children’s teachers and school administrators to be a “surrogate family network” (Kaomea, 2012, p. 12) when they are unable to participate in, for example, a morning parent-child activity. Ask parents who other trusted adults in the child’s life are, and invite those individuals to participate in child-family activities at school if other family members are unavailable. 


4. Provide Opportunities for Parents to Connect with Each Other

Kaomea (2012) discussed how the narrative of one of the Native Hawaiian families she interviewed emphasized  “the growing need on the part of increasingly isolated Indigenous families for more opportunities for parent-to-parent interactions” (p. 12). Opportunities for parent interactions include workshops and talk-story sessions that allow families to share their experiences and provide a supportive environment for exchanging expertise and concerns. Student performances provide opportunities for parents to sit together and network. These events should be a place where families can share a variety of parenting practices and simultaneously reconnect, creating trusting and supportive relationships. As Kaomea (2012) stated, “There is…a wealth of parenting wisdom in Indigenous communities, and this Indigenous wisdom should be acknowledged and respected in parent education programs and parenting workshops as well” (p. 12). 

Kaomea, J. (2012). Reconceptualizing Indigenous parent involvement in early educational settings: Lessons from Native Hawaiian preschool families. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 3(4), 1-19.

Luning, R. J. L., & Yamauchi, L. A. (2010). The influences of Indigenous heritage language education on students and families in a Hawaiian language immersion program. Heritage Language Journal 7(2), 207-236.