Get Moving, Boost Learning
Research indicates that sitting still all day is not good for learning. Students who move throughout the day show better focus, stronger memory retention, and faster cognitive processing than their sedentary counterparts.
Below are a few ideas to get students moving in either a classroom or a homeschool environment. The strategies should bring positive results in both student happiness and their academic progress.
Consciously Incorporate more time for activity
Traditionally, students have been allowed time for free movement at lunch, during gym class, and during a recess if they are young enough to have one. Consider adding to this schedule with more time for movement breaks.
Some schools host designated days/times for all school movement such as on the first Friday of each month, or at 9am each Wednesday. Whether it is a small or large change, anything that could be added into the learning routine is helpful.
Some teachers, especially of kids in younger elementary school grades, schedule movement breaks between traditional lessons. They use online-based programs such as Go Noodle, Fit4Kids, and CosmicKids. These would work for any age and equally well in a home or traditional school setting. They look like a kid fitness class and at the end of a single, short session students are smiling, refreshed and better able to focus on work.
Blend lessons and activity
Educators who combine learning opportunities with movement help their students absorb lessons better. This doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require creativity. Here are some ideas:
- Instead of looking through a book or website to understand plant growth, insect life, or animal populations in your region, consider taking a nature walk.
- When teaching about money, consider taking a child to the store and let them participate in actual transactions, or set up a classroom store where they complete transactions with each other.
- If learning about haiku or other kind of poetry, let them try to write their own. Roam outside of a classroom or out of doors to identify images to describe.
Try flexible seating options for students
Even when movement is incorporated into a student’s day, they still may have trouble sitting still. They tip their chairs back at their workspace or get up and roam. They drum a pencil on their table or walk to another person’s desk.
Flexible seating offers options to channel this natural impulse. Wobble chairs allow students to rock and tilt during a sedentary activity. A choice of padded floor cushions can allow students to work from a general area on the floor and define their area to keep them separate from others. There are also student standing desks, chairs that they can safely move up and down on, and stabilized ball chairs.
Research has shown that this type of seating works. When students don’t have to put their energy into being still, they can re-assign that energy to their lessons. They’re happier and more productive.
This kind of seating doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be purchased online in large or small quantities. If it is something you’d like to try, first talk to your student or class about which kind of chair they think would work for them. That will help learners to engage more fully in the process.
Movement brings results
Any effort to bring movement into the classroom can reap results. It doesn’t have to be a large effort, but it is worth experimenting with some of the ideas listed above. As you’ll see, every change has the potential to make lessons more productive and help students be happier, so get moving!