Why we include motion breaks and other non-science elements.
As educators we are tasked with teaching young children to learn many things. We're asked to set learning goals and sometimes even chart progress on DATA WALLS. (Don't get me started!) We're expected to have all students reading, writing, and doing math "on grade level." With all the external pressure it is easy to get tunnel vision and focus on a narrow band of student learning outcomes. But just for a moment...STOP. BREATHE. REFLECT.
First and foremost remember that we teach children. We merely deliver curriculum. Children are not just brains or empty vessels. They are whole people with all sorts of needs and talents. As educators, it is our job to nurture children to be the best version of themselves they can be. We can build a child up by celebrating all sorts of successes and we know success tends to multiply. We can be responsive to their physical needs too.
I recall a transformational moment for me in the classroom. It was about 20 years ago, so I was experienced but not THAT experienced. My friend (and awesome educator) Kit was our French teacher. She'd planned an amazing lesson. She had puppets and all sorts of fabulous props and had clearly done her homework! But the kids were just not into it that day. Some rolled on the floor and even the usually super attentive ones drifted off. The way Kit responded really impressed me. She calmly put her things away simply stating this was not the right lesson for right now and got all the kids up on their feet for a French song and dance. The music organized the chaotic sound and the movement gave kids a way to productively manage their energy in that moment. I love that she was willing to respond to student needs and let go of all her careful plans. I love that she understood their need to move!
We do motion breaks to try to address that need. We can't see into your classrooms, but I've seen enough children over the years to know that 20 minutes of "sit and get" is a tall order for many 4-8 year old students. Taking time to move helps them learn self-regulation skills and supercharge their thinking. (It works well for adults too. Some of my most productive team meetings happened during a brisk walk!) The types of movements we choose are not by accident! We try to present a variety of motions for a variety of reasons. Explosive motions like jumping or running in place can help with energy regulation. Crossing the midline can help with visual tracking and penmanship. Working on balance poses can improve core stability which can help kids have an easier time sitting up on the rug. Inversions can increase blood flow to the brain and improve mood.
Here are a few strategies that worked for me in the classroom:
Meet Beth and Curtis!
Presidential Award-Winning teacher and hula hoop fanatic, Beth loves bringing real world science to kids! Beth is fascinated by engineering challenges, technology, and outdoor learning spaces. After 25 years teaching kindergarten, she’s excited to share her passion and experience on-line with classrooms from around the world!