September 12, 2022
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
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Now that the school year is in full swing, teachers are helping students shift gears from the less structured experience of summertime to the experience of being in school – which involves a focus on goals and routines. It’s good for kids to know how to shift gears, and to get back into routines, goal setting, and contributing to their school community.
But there’s one shift to avoid at all costs – the shift from active to passive.
For many kids, summer is a time to be physically active. Many children engage in organized activities like swim team or performing arts or summer camp. Others spend their days playing pick-up games of basketball or doing handstands in the basement or simply running around the neighborhood.
When we invite students to settle in to school, we often struggle to get them to settle down, literally to sit down and stop moving. What if we stopped fighting kids’ inclination to move? What if, instead of attempting to put a lid on all this energy (a battle that is as futile as it is counterproductive), we worked to channel it?
Inspired Teachers expect their students to be fully engaged in learning – intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
As students and teachers reconvene in school buildings, most of us are spending time with larger groups of people than we did during summertime. And yes, that means being mindful of our bodies and the effects we have on others. And no, we can’t run through the hallways when the spirit moves us. But we can learn responsible ways to engage our bodies as part of our learning apparatus. See below for examples of how teachers can make this happen.
As The Washington Post reported back in April, sitting still is considered an important life skill for children in school. As I responded in my letter to the editor in The Washington Post shortly thereafter, that assumption needs to change.
Kids who spend their summers being physically active need appropriate opportunities to continue this healthy habit in school. And for children who have the opposite experience in the summertime, who spend a lot of time sitting passively in front of screens, being physically active in school is even more of an imperative.
If we commit to incorporating movement into the learning process – for our students and ourselves – we’ll be taking a great step forward in increasing learning and well-being. And we’ll make school a better place to be for all of us.
Resources: 4 Ways to Make Learning Active
Humans are hardwired to move. Confining students to chairs during school time is contrary to this natural inclination. Movement doesn’t have to be a break from learning content; movement can be integral to the learning experience, as the following examples show:
- Measure the perimeter and area of a classroom or playground with your feet (nonstandard units) and the feet and yards on a ruler (standard measurement) – find this and other standards-based math activities in 25 More Math Explorations.
- Build literacy skills by creating, listening to, and retelling stories using only our hands and feet – see Hands and Feet Stories for detailed directions.
- Explore human biology and graphing by measuring our heart rates and breath rates before and after exercise – see How Vigorous is My Heart? for more.
- Learn spatial awareness and deepen respect for others by engaging in an authentic conversation about how to travel through the hallways – Walk the Walk shows you how.