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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in physical activity
Posted by on in Early Childhood

swing set

On my way to work, I pass no fewer than 6 child care centers. As my life revolves around Early Childhood and young children, I am always interested in seeing what’s happening in programs in the community. It had been puzzling to me, no matter the weather or time of day, how few children I ever saw playing outside. In the winter, when it was approaching 40 degrees, after a fresh snow- no children. In the fall, it was sunny and windy and leaves were everywhere- nobody. In the spring, it had just rained, the sun was out, but all I saw were abandoned play areas.

It first, it was a curiosity, but as the seasons changed and the pattern persisted, I was concerned why there was this lack of outdoor, physical activity in child care.

I decided to do some unofficial investigating and started asking child care staff if they had some answers. Boy, did I get an earful!

The staffers very often cited children’s clothing as the problem. They said parents send their children in clothes not meant to get dirty or in shoes not safe for playground surfaces or equipment. It was also reported that parents, in their hurry to get out the door in the morning, forget jackets or hats or boots. A couple care providers even expressed their belief that some parents did these things on purpose, so their children would have to stay indoors.

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Posted by on in What If?

stretching

Which has caused more stress among kids: the Great Depression or life today? According to a study cited in Brad Johnson’s book, Learning on Your Feet, five times as many students deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental issues compared to students during the Great Depression. If we really stop to think about that, we realize what an astonishing statement it is.

Stress, of course, isn’t conducive to optimal learning or to a positive classroom environment. Brad believes incorporating physical activity into the classroom, along with relaxation strategies, can help relieve stress. He and educator Oskar Cymerman joined me on Studentcentrity to discuss it. Following the conversation Brad sent me the following additional thoughts:

Sedentary education is the greatest disservice we have done to this generation of students. Students need to be more active in the classroom. Only 1 out 12 students today has the core strength and balance of students from the 1980s. This means students not only need to be more active but need to focus specifically on core and balance because they improve the executive functioning area of the brain. Executive functioning is responsible for mental focus, organization, and processing information -- all of which help students deal better with stress.

Although you would expect the conversation to revolve around the physical domain, these educators are quite aware of the mind/body connection, as well as the importance of educating the whole child, so it wasn’t surprising to me that they made connections to the cognitive and social/emotional domains.

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

Two giraffe at mysore zoo

We recently went to the zoo on a rather warm and sunny day. The animals were active and our kids had tons of questions we loved contemplating the answers to.

Summer has arrived!  The school year is finally coming to an end. This is the time of year when my jealousy of teachers who have already been enjoying summer vacation since May has finally started to subside.  There are so many reasons to love summer—time with my kids, enjoying the sun, traveling, exploring nature, and reading for fun (and professionally).

The best part of summer for me is being able to be outdoors and moving through nature whether it is hiking on a trail, walking on the beach, wandering through the zoo, playing at the park, or running through the neighborhood. Not only do I experience joy for these activities, but my kids do as well.  We talk, ask questions, explore answers, and reach new heights in intellectual stimulation.

It is at these moments when I think about students seated in classrooms during the school year. My mind races around multiple ways to use movement activities in the  classroom as a teacher and during professional development sessions as a teacher leader. Some of my ideas are simple ways to get kids up and moving, and other ideas involve more creativity regarding a specific lesson in a unit of study.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

shareasimage 6

If you ask a child what their favorite part of the school day is, they’ll probably tell you recess. “Recess is the time of day set aside for elementary school students to take a break from their class work, engage in play with their peers, and take part in independent, unstructured activities,” Bossenmeyer, M. (2005). A trend is happening throughout the United States and in my opinion; it’s not a good one.

Recess is being cut and/or eliminated from school schedules. Why does this matter? Children are able to interact outside in ways different than in the classroom. Should recess remain a part of the child’s school day?

Recess provides children with discretionary time and opportunities to engage in physical activity that helps to develop healthy bodies and enjoyment of movement. It also allows elementary children to practice life skills such as conflict resolution, cooperation, respect for rules, taking turns, sharing, using language to communicate, and problem solving in situations that are real. Furthermore, it may facilitate improved attention and focus on learning in the academic program. (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2001)

playgroundI believe a national crisis will be reality in the lives of young children if we eliminate recess from schools. “Over forty percent of our nation’s schools have either reduced or banned, or are considering to ban recess in order to maximize amount of time spent in the classroom,” (Bazaliaki, N., Cox, D., Long, T., Risteen, J., Sparks, K., & Jonas Ward, J.) Why are schools doing this when recess has been apart of the educational system for so long? There is a tremendous amount of academic pressure on teachers and schools to create successful, high-achieving students.

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Posted by on in School Culture

 

May 22, 2015 was the day the Class of 2015 graduated where I teach; consequently, I spent most of May 23rd and May 24th either sleeping or in a semi-comatose state because I was tired. Let’s be honest: teaching is exhausting.  But no sooner than the end-of-the-year bell rings, many teachers are figuring out how to get the most out of their summer and also debrief and prepare for the next school year. I’m sure many of you are type A personalities like myself, so sitting and resting do not come easily but are so necessary for healthy teachers. This summer be sure to carve out time for rest in the following areas:

Physical Rest. The daily grind of the school year is physically exhausting. Take time to sleep in or at least leave mornings unscheduled and relaxed. Quality physical rest stems from overall physical health, and summer is a perfect time to focus on areas in our personal health that may have gotten out of balance during the school year. Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables, extra energy to prepare healthy meals, and time for leisurely walks all of which makes for a healthy and rested body. And by all means if your body is saying it needs a power nap in the afternoon, take it because you certainly won’t be able to do that once school starts.

Emotional Rest. One of the most exhausting parts of the day in and day out of a school year is the emotional drain from students, parents, and even colleagues. Being emotionally drained is not necessarily a bad thing because it means we have celebrated with our students, cried for our students, struggled with families, and lamented with coworkers over what’s best for our students. This is good because we have been fully present, but we do need to step back and allow ourselves time to emotionally rest. Spend time around people who are easy to be with and give you energy this summer and don’t feel guilty about it.

Mental Rest. Planning, grading, conferencing, and reading for ten months can lead to mental exhaustion, but if you’re like me, summer is a time to read professional books that you can’t squeeze into the school year. Evaluating the previous year, planning for the new year, and reading for professional development are great things to do over the summer but balance them with pleasure reading or catching up on a television series.

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