Regardless of age, a sedentary lifestyle is not one filled with lots of engaging or memorable moments. When taking a look at a traditional classroom’s agenda, it is often one that promotes a sedentary style of learning for most or sadly even all of the school day. In order to keep students’ minds active, educators must incorporate ways to keep bodies active within the learning process. As teachers help students to find a mind and body balance, learners are more likely to become engaged in content and make meaningful connections to material presented.
There are lots of ways to encourage activity within the classroom and outside of traditional school room walls. From seating alternatives and lesson presentation to movement breaks and moving beyond the classroom confines, educators can employ methods that foster engagement and build content retention. With lots of options available, there are sure to be numerous ways to make movement a part of any curriculum.
- Move from rows of seats to clusters and/or stations. With a fluid design to seating, arrangements can be made to accommodate any lesson’s structure.
- Incorporate a variety of seating options: standing desks, active seats, ball chairs, bean bags, etc. By improving seating comfort, focus and retention can improve.
- Let students rotate through a variety of seating options as they rotate through different activities to keep their minds and bodies sharp and active.
- Make learning active. Rather than putting the larger focus on antiquated delivery methods with a large helping of sit and listen, make students active participants in the search for information, construction of learning materials, and/or hands-on creation of tangible learning products.
- Make movement central to the instructional activity. Search for companionable activities on sites like Active Academics where subject area and grade level inputting can pull up a variety of lessons that make student movement a necessary component for the learning to occur. A stack of index cards can turn any subject area content into an alphabetical or chronological ordering exercise.
- By utilizing learning stations, a cause for movement has been created. When students move among a variety of activities, it keeps their minds fresh and their bodies mobile.
- Can’t find a way to incorporate moving into a lesson, add movement breaks to shake things up a bit. Whether it’s a quick moment with a few stretches in or out of seats or leading a Jammin’ Minute activity or video, letting students engage their whole bodies will help refocus their minds.
- Add some movement to in-class tasks. Have students do lunges as they head to the turn-in basket, do 10 squats before sharpening a pencil, stand when answering a question, etc.
Beyond the Classroom
- Tap into unused spaces within the building. Head to an auditorium, cafeteria, gymnasium, large corridor, etc. and do some “bigger” activities that require the usage of extra space. Students are active on the journey and once they reach the destination.
- Spearhead a schoolwide movement involving fitness. Add a movement element to morning announcements and/or student body gatherings. Enroll in programs like Let’s Move! which partner with a wide variety of national fitness organizations to bring awareness, activities, and incentives to schools and communities.
- Be a fitness role model. Get more active with time outside of the classroom and share these experiences with students. Doing so can be personally rewarding while also being an inspiring example for students to follow.
Whether it’s reconfiguring spatial design, adding movement to existing activities, incorporating time for movement, or sparking a fitness movement, all stakeholders are sure to benefit from being more active. Time spent moving and encouraging fitness should go hand-in-hand with academics. As students begin to see the value in a strong mind/body correlation, learning has the potential to reach new heights.