Physical activity and the effect on student performance and behavior in the classroom

I recently came across an article in Scholastic Teacher that discussed the importance of movement for students, throughout the school day. In the article, The Motion Quotient author Calvin Hennick states, “physical activity can have a hugely positive effect on students’ performance and behavior in the classroom”.

Hennick continues by reporting that physical activity increases memory, attention, and concentration for students during the school day. At New Life Academy, we facilitate an environment that encourages students to learn with honor through daily opportunities for engaging in physical activity.

  • Minds in Motion – In 2010 Mrs. Louise Erickson attended an ACSI professional development training led by Candace Meier, founder of Minds in Motion (MiM). Candace Meier is a reading specialist who developed MiM after making the connection between physical coordination and learning. She gathered a variety of research results and developed the Minds in Motion Maze. She has generously shared her maze with anyone who wants to help children use their bodies efficiently. That same year, Mrs. Erickson brought MiM to NLA. MiM is a series of fifteen exercises that are simple yet help to connect both sides of the brain, the inner ear, the eyes and the muscles for integrated learning. At New Life we have equipment and we use our hallways for our maze. You will see children skipping, crawling, rolling, pushing, jumping, tossing, and wobbling as you walk through our building.
  • Physical Education Classes – NLA students enjoy their Phy. Ed. time with Mrs. Sandquist or Coach Woolf. Each week our students receive 70 minutes of physical education class. This year, we divided the weekly 70 minutes into 3 class periods for our 1st and 2nd Two of the class periods Coach Woolf uses to teach students skills and large group games, while the third class period has been labeled as “FREE PE” by a 2nd grade student. During “FREE PE” students have opportunities to participate in physical activity of their choice. “FREE PE” is purposeful, granting students time to play with their peers, be creative, and find joy in exercise.
  • Recess – Our students love recess! Each day students at NLA are receiving 25 minutes of recess to engage in imaginative play, gross motor development, and large group games. Recess is sandwiched in the center of our school day. New this year, 4th and 5th grade students eat lunch before going out for recess. In an effort to provide extra physical activity for our students they have two dismissal times from lunch, increasing recess for these students to about 30 minutes a day. Our playground is complete with a kickball field, 4-square, slides and swings, monkey bars, large disc swings, a basketball court, and tetherball.

by Joanna Richter