There are many things that we as educators would change about our schools if we had the money and/or power to. Ask a teacher to close their eyes and pretend that money and power were not an issue. For them to write down ideas of what a perfect school would look like and see what you get. Every teacher has their dream of what that would look like, and it would be pages upon pages of changes, some more feasible than others. There is, however one major change that I would like to see implemented in schools all over the country. I would like to see more exercise built into our students’ school day.
“Research from Harvard University has shown that exercise plays a critical role in brain functioning (Wolfe-Early Brain Development 6).” Many researchers have concluded that exercise is an important part of a child’s day. In chapter 7 of Brain Matters, Wolfe discusses how school districts are decreasing the time spent in subjects like art, music and physical education to spend more time on core subjects such as math, reading and writing in hopes to raise students standardized test scores. However, after looking into research concerning the effects of exercise on brain function it suggests that this practice may be counterproductive to the results they are looking for (Wolfe 93). Wolfe goes on later in the chapter explaining a study that was done proved that the more physical tests students passed, the higher they scored on the achievement test. Exercise not only enhances learning, it affects emotional and physical well-being as well because when you exercise your body produces endorphins (Scheve).”
I was pleased to read in John Medina’s Brain Rules that “kids pay better attention to their subjects when they’ve been active. Kids are also less likely to be disruptive in terms of their classroom behavior when they’re active (Medina 2008)”. Not only are they less disruptive but they “feel better about themselves, have higher self-esteem, less depression, less anxiety. All of those things can impair academic performance and attentiveness (Medina 2008)”. Science and my readings have proved that exercise is a vital part of education and learning. Taking the time each day in my class to do our Get Fit- Count to 100s song, stretching, doing breathing exercises, and having them do children’s yoga are all benefiting the learning of my students. It has been a great way to get the blood flow and oxygen to their brain to help get them ready to learn. I have really noticed a difference in their level of engagement after such activities. In my perfect world, districts would stop eliminating our student’s time in important activities that help the success rate of our students. I would also have blocks of time set for exercise in the classrooms totally to about an hour of fun movements and exercises. There could even be a before school program where students could come and do Pilates, yoga, zumba, jogging or any other type of exercise to get their brains awake and ready to learn before the day begins! This would not only aid learning and engagement, but it would also help solve our national obesity issue that our country is undergoing.
Medina, J. (2008). Exercise. Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school (pp. 14-18). Seattle, WA: Pear Press.
Scheve, T. (n.d.). Is there a link between exercise and happiness?. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/exercise-happiness2.htm
Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.93-97). Arlington, VA: ASCD.
Wolfe, P. (2013). Early Brain Development. A position paper for the 9th Bridge Early Childhood Program in Las Vegas.