IN THE OLDEN days, it used to be that the classroom exercise vignette was a part of every day. Mornings, which were longer, had two or three of these exercise vignettes. Afternoons, which were usually shorter, had one. The leaders were the kids chosen by the teacher and trained by the gym teacher. At the change of subject, the little leaders took their place at the front of the room. The windows were opened, no matter the weather, and the teacher gave the nod.
“Class stand.” said the leader.
“One…” and every right foot in the room was thrust into the aisle.
“Two…” and every child stood in the aisle next to his desk
“Hands on hips…”
Toe rises, toes in, toes out, knee bends, waist twists, forward leans, chest stretchers, fast running in place. It all took a couple of minutes and was rounded out with deep breathing and a change of air from the open windows.
“Class sit, one…” “Two…”
Now was that so hard? Why have we given up one of the things that makes teaching and learning easier, doesn’t cost anything, and takes minutes?
“The best way to offset tension is with physical activity.” —Bonnie Prudden
Everyone knows we need more exercise. Everyone knows that focus is better and learning faster when tension and energy are released in productive ways. The teacher’s body needs help too. She / he needs to release tension. Exercise is far better than yelling. Some schools have even done away with recess because someone might get hurt and a lawsuit would follow.
Back in 1987, Teacher’s Strategies included an article written by Bonnie called, What is Teaching Doing to You? In it she points out what happens to the bodies of 30 little people and their teacher when they are “trapped” in the classroom without any means of dispensing with pent-up energy.
In Fitness From Six to Twelve she writes: “No two children are alike, and each brings to experience a different physical and mental make-up. In one single exchange there are at least two hundred units of presentation, acceptance, translation, and observation involved.”
Teachers are under a lot of pressure. I’m told they don’t have exercise breaks because scores are down, there is so much to impart and there is so little time. BUT time and time again studies show that exercise breaks promote faster learning and better retention and thwart behavior problems.
Take an exercise break. The scores will go up and the tension will go down. And you and those you teach will all feel better at the end of the day… and if you need help, I am here.
Want to know more? See Child Containment vs Child Preparedness.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®
The drawings pictured in this blog were done by Bonnie Prudden.