As parents, you are aware of the importance of getting your students moving.
Active students experience less stress, are healthier and are well adjusted.
Playing on a team or getting out with fellow students has a number of
health and social benefits. Studies have shown that activity and movement
also have a number of academic benefits too. Proponents of
movement education utilize activity to stimulate development and activity in the brain.
“Research has shown that movement is linked to specific brain functioning
in children. For example, cross lateral movement gets the right and left
sides of the brain to work together. It helps to wake up different lobes
in the brain,” says Martha Swirzinski, a movement education specialist.
Movement education helps to stimulate various parts of the brain. Increased
movement also brings oxygen and glucose to the brain which are both essential
for optimal functioning. When students sit quietly for longer than 10
minutes, their brains become lethargic. Incorporating movement into education
helps keep students focused and improves their ability to retain information.
This is especially helpful for students who have trouble learning.
Evidence linking movement and learning
Dr. Peter Strick and his research staff at the Veteran Affairs Medical
Center of Syracuse, New York, have traced a pathway from the cerebellum
back to parts of the brain involved in memory, attention, and spatial
perception. This means that the part of the brain that processes movement
is the same part of the brain that is involved in learning and memory.
This evidence has been confirmed with magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
which shows that the same areas of the brain are stimulated by movement
How to incorporate movement into learning
There are times when book and computer learning cannot be avoided. Here
tutors and educators can incorporate activity by instituting the ten minute dance
party or the ten minute walkabout.
Divide study time into manageable chunks of time (like 20 – 30 minute
increments), followed by a ten minute walk around the room, a race to
the front of the classroom or around the house. Students can also move
to an area where balls, skipping ropes, weights and games help them to
participate in different movements.
Set up an obstacle course around the house or classroom which requires
students to jump, run, crawl etc. They should have to complete an academic
task, and then go through the obstacle course. You can put them in teams
or reward individual achievements.
Breaking up the school day into academic segments followed by physical
activity helps students to concentrate, stimulates higher cognitive functioning
and improves health while reducing obesity.