Wednesday, May 1, 2013

People Aren't Robots

Photo: Qatar Chronicle
When I was a kid, we had gym once a week and went outside after lunch every day. Sometimes, we would hold science class outside. We also would go up to the school yard after school-or out in the street-and play kickball, street hockey or just ride bikes. I often wonder why things are so different now?

School Physical-Ed, sports programs as well as art and music departments have been significantly impacted as administrations feel compelled to make curriculums more academically 'rigorous'.

We have a daily motor time in preschool and Kindergarten. Why do we suddenly stop this practice in upper grades and adulthood? We still need movement. Humans need movement. Movement is how the human brain grows and thinks. As one gym teacher puts it: "If the bum is numb, the brain is too."  Wise words.

Movement educators & PE advocates have been making the case that more time in the gym has not only physical benefits, but academic benefits as well. There has been a large body of research in neurology and brain development that supports this. The question is, if we know this, then why are we not applying it?

Something a friend of mine (also an athlete) said today in response to an article link I posted yesterday on this topic, struck me:

'There are so many aspects that are important. Giving the mind a break in the day so you don't get overwhelmed. Exercise is a natural mood booster. Social skills. Coordination. The list goes on... Some similar arguments can be made of Art and Music. People aren't robots. So frustrating! Good for the people who are out there fighting for what's right.'

People aren't robots...

No. We are not, and neither are our kids.

It IS frustrating. Given the increasing rate of learning & behavior issues in kids, general stress in schools AND in the workplace combined with the fact that we already KNOW the benefits of movement/exercise... it seems as if we have an answer to at least to some of the problems we face, but the powers that be, won't even acknowledge it, let alone apply it. They just keep imposing more rules and restrictions... and administering more tests to see how we're doing compared to the rest of the world-and putting more kids on medication before we've ruled out every other possible solution. Wouldn't be much easier for everyone involved to just put preventative programs in place before behavior and learning problems get out of control? 

Its frustrating & ridiculous, but most of all, its doing our kids a huge disservice.  Kids are not wired to sit still and listen to rote, lecture and do worksheets for 6 hours a day. Kids are not learning more in spite of 'enriched' curriculums and more instruction time. Kids are wired for fun & movement. They are wired for the novel and the unusual. Many classrooms are recognizing this and are incorporating some innovative types of group & blended learning methods. But for the rest, the kids are being routinely bored and/or traumatized on a daily basis-(NOT the teacher's fault!) and this is being sanctioned and sometimes encouraged by the state and US Boards of Ed. Our kids are being set up to fail, (and teachers are too) and parents and educators (and kids) are all expected to just deal with it-academically, emotionally, financially and otherwise.  

Well, the good news is, it doesn't have to be this way. A parent is a child's first (and best) teacher. So start by leading by example- get moving and get the kids moving too. I  know you are tired. We all are. We work hard to support our families. The movement will improve your energy level and do everyone a world of good. Resist the temptation to throw it all into a teacher's lap and say "Its his/her job to [fill in the blank]" Be proactive. Teach kids that if they need a movement or hydration break, to ask for one. They can stretch in their seat if they can't take a break. If they need to study more at home and put more effort into their academics, then they should. Be a good example and above all don't allow them to stagnate- to do nothing at home. There are plenty of everyday tasks at home to keep kids moving, engaged and connected with their families. 

Teachers, schedule daily movement breaks in the classroom-preferably at the beginning and halfway through.  Let the students water plants, (if you don't have any, get some. Not silk, not plastic. Real ones.) dance, stretch, yoga, Tai Chi, march in place, clean out desks, take a water fountain break, move furniture, have a "Chinese Fire Drill" and switch doesn't matter what type of movement it is, just encourage it. Three to five minutes per class period is all you need. If you can fit ten minutes in every half hour-even better, but start somewhere. You will find you get more done in less time.  Student cooperation and learning readiness will improve along with self-confidence, efficiency and motivation. At the same time, stress, lethargy and boredom will decrease. 

At first, you will feel silly-but give yourself permission to be silly-even with High school students who need it the most-along with the cognitively, socially or sensory challenged. After just one week, you will notice a difference in the atmosphere and demeanor of the class. I promise you.

Smithfield Elementary in south Charlotte, SC has figured out a way to balance physical movement time with the increased academic requirements: students take a "Brain Break" every 20 minutes.  The kids dance, maybe do a few calisthenics while counting by fives or saying their multiplication tables.  She says kids are more engaged and teachers actually feel like they fit more reading and math into the day.

Its your classroom-(and parents, they are your kids). Take charge and use what works. After all, we are not Robots.

To read the full article that inspired this post:

PE Advocates Argue Gym Benefits Not Just Health but Academics Too

To help get kids moving, you can find some inspiration on our You Tube Channel or find our Sensory Games and Activities 

To learn how to incorporate more movement into your classroom or home environment, visit our BodyLogique Online Workshop & Training Page (Schedule is currently being updated for Summer and Fall classes, 2013.)

To contact us with questions:



Post a Comment


Note : This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ""