Anyone who knows kids knows that they aren’t designed to sit still for extended periods of time. There’s a reason for that! Movement stimulates more blood flow to the brain and enhances attention span and learning. The parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who are physically active versus people who don’t.
However, despite all the evidence of the benefits, outside of recess, there is little physical activity during the school day. On average kids sit at a desk for close to 6 hours. No wonder they get fidgety!
“Kids aren’t meant to sit still all day and take in information,” says Steve Boyle, one of the co-founders of The National Association of Physical Literacy, which aims to bring movement into all schools. Mental breaks, coupled with physical movement, are key to performance and creativity and improved concentration. NAPL promotes incorporating breaks for physical activity beyond recess. They’ve produced a series of 3 – 5 minute videos teachers can use to lead kids through a mini-series of energizing exercises several times throughout the school day.
Schools need to think of the child as a whole person and consider their bodies as important to learning as their brains are. (That goes for us adults too!)
For more information and resources see the recent New York Times’ story, “Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class”.