“How Exercise Impacts Learning (Part II).” – Jane Wolff

Saturday, June 2, 2012.  Today I am grateful for teacher Allison Cameron of Park City School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA, for her pioneering work with the proven value of movement in raising student marks! – Doc Meek

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(Click on image to enlarge): City Park School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA

THE BRAIN/BODY CONNECTION: HOW EXERCISE IMPACTS LEARNING (PART II)

This article (Part I and Part II) was written by Jane Wolff on behalf of Sopris Learning who develop learning resources for children and schools. They offer many tools and resources including a writing curriculum and a reading curriculum.

Get Kids Moving

What can parents, teachers and stakeholders do to increase physical exercise for children?

First, speak up when school administrators or parents suggest cutting recess or gym to increase test scores. The research is very clear—kids need to move to learn!

Second, incorporate movement into daily activities. Go for a walk, play simple games or use songs and hand movements to teach academic subjects. Don’t overschedule kids with extracurricular activities and monitor time spent with electronic media. Kids spend as much as 40 hours per week watching T.V., playing video games or doing computer games. While technology has its place, too much of it can contribute to a lack of exercise and obesity.

Spend time outdoors. Kids who play outdoors regularly are more resilient to stress and anxiety, according to a 2005 study published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. Regular, unstructured outdoor play time also helps kids develop problem solving skills, creative thinking and motor skills.

Safe outdoor play spaces are often limited or non-existent in urban areas. Work in your community to build parks, open spaces and trails for kids. One non-profit group, Kaboom, is working to transform abandoned, urban lots into “Wild Spaces,” or areas where children can dig in the dirt, build a fort or pick flowers. Playgrounds are great, but wild spaces provide a different, and much needed, experience.

Parents living in urban areas may not have a lot of experience with hiking or nature exploring. Nature clubs, led by an experienced hiker or naturalist, are a safe, comfortable way for parents and kids to learn about the natural world.

A Natural Learning Style

If you watch kids engaged in unstructured play, you’ll notice a few interesting things. Kids rarely opt to sit at a desk, reading, writing or studying, for hours on end. Instead, they use their hands to build things or create projects. Left to their own devices, kids don’t sit quietly. They move around, talk with friends and engage in make believe. Kids may become engaged in a project for a long period of time, but they’re usually using their hands or their bodies, in addition to their minds.

Kids’ naturally learn through movement. When we recognize and respect that characteristic, we’re able to design curriculum and experiences that engage a child’s body and mind. Not only do active kids perform better in school, but they’re usually happier and calmer, as well. Happy kids mean happy teachers and parents, creating a trickle-down effect of positive results. So get out the jump ropes and bouncing balls and get moving!

Play actually helps student brains to develop for better learning

Image from: http://besteducationpossible.blogspot.ca/2011/10/5-reasons-children-need-to-play.html

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Again, a big thank you to Jane Wolff for her great tips for parents and teachers about movement and learning, and to Sopris Learning for their reading and writing programs!

Doc Meek, Sat, June 2, 2012, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

P.S. If you missed Part I of this great article by Jane Wolff on behalf of Sopris Learning, click on this link:

“How Exercise Impacts Learning (Part I).” – Jane Wolff

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