Many schools are reducing or even eliminating recess and break times for students to provide extra contact time for academics. Even gym time has been reduced. In my school, the students are lucky to get 45 minutes of gym twice a week. While this might sound like a lot at first, many students really need a daily outlet for moving and getting energy out. Just think of all the time we expect our students to sit in their seats all day. Adding just a bit more movement and exercise can help motivate, inspire, and invigorate your kiddos. Here are some ideas for adding exercise and movement into your classroom.
One idea is that you can schedule exercise time right into your daily morning meeting, homeroom, or right after recess as a cool down. Some simple exercises could be jogging in place, arm circles, stretches, and jumping jacks. If your school allows it, you could also do a daily lap around the school to wake up your students in the morning.
Teaching yoga as a relaxer before tests may also greatly benefit students. Research has shown that yoga postures release chemicals in the brain that help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Yoga also helps to increase focus, self-awareness, and balance. This can be a great activity for all students, even those who are not particularly athletic.
Exercise can be part of your classroom celebrations or rewards, too! You can incorporate a short dance time after the class has worked hard on a task, all homework was turned in, or just on a Friday afternoon for fun. Just play “Happy” and you will see that it is hard for your students to even stand still! This also positively reinforces the idea that exercise is something fun, not something you just have to do.
Don’t forget to get outside of your classroom often. Take a nature walk outside to write about science observations. Walk down to the gym to measure for the perimeter of the gymnasium or just the tiles on the floor. Take an extra trip to the library for a speak book talk. The opportunities are really endless.