Remember being a kid and loving recess? I do!
In fact, some of my best memories of elementary school are of running around the playground, searching for four-leaf clovers in the grass, being chased by boys, and seeing who could spin the longest on the monkey bars.
Oh, how I used to look forward to recess; and it wasn’t just once a day, we had three unstructured recesses each and every day. I also looked forward to summer…much for the same reasons…the chance to move around and explore.
As summer, approaches here in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves of the critical relationship between academic performance and movement of the body.
Basically, to remind ourselves that we need to advocate for schools and communities with safe and accessible playgrounds, to advocate that when budgets are cut, physical education and dance are not be the first to go when; and to advocate that instructional time (even in the summer) be devoted to movement and unstructured play, perhaps at the “expense” of time spent testing.
Looking to accelerate learning? Here are a few ideas…
First, as a brain architect, ensure instructional time is allotted to teaching physical motor standards, not just “K-readiness” and academic standards. In particular, create learning opportunities regarding locomotor skills (e.g., walking, running, skipping, tumbling), non-locomotor skills (e.g., bending, stretching, turning, wiggling), and spatial awareness skills (e.g., dodging, kicking, striking, throwing).
Did you know that in the U.S., early learning standards in the area of Mathematics outnumber physical motor standards, sometimes as much as 3 to 4 times?
Second, create opportunities for children to engage in physical activities, to engage in unstructured play, and to interact with nature and the outdoors. Specifically, create learning opportunities for children to engage in balance activities, to control motor movements, and to work on coordination.
Did you know that balance is based upon a functioning vestibular system, which is related to sensory integration and eye movements required for reading?
Third, if a child is struggling to develop or learn particular physical motor standards, be sure to consider whether he/she needs additional support and scaffolding in terms of accuracy, endurance, flexibility, persistence, strength, and/or symmetry. Each concern requires a different remedy.
Did you know that you teach physical motor standards the same way you teach other skills? Yep, just model, be intentional, create multiple and varied learning opportunities, provide scaffolding, and give feedback.
Have a few ideas about how you will get kids moving inside and outside the classroom? Come on over to Facebook and share you ideas!
P.S. Here are a few other interesting reads:
- Lets face it, keeping children sedentary for most of their waking hours is causing harm
- More Active Play Equals Better Thinking Skills For Kids
- The Benefits of Movement in Schools
- How Finland Keeps Kids Focused Through Free Play
- Why Motor Skills Matter
- The Value Of Wild, Risky Play: Fire, Mud, Hammers And Nails