Research shows that students perform better in school when they are physically and emotionally healthy.
That’s why the national organization SHAPE America (Society for Health and Physical Educators) believes in educating the whole child. Their main focus is on children’s physical development and athletic skills, integrating these things into a well-rounded school day that offers kids opportunities to be active.
Physical education classes and participation on sports teams both provide knowledge and experience in different activities and address the social aspects of children's development. Recess, too, offers important opportunities for kids to be active, solve problems, and build skills, friendships, independence, and confidence. Physical activity also contributes to a greater sense of well-being, which has far-reaching benefits of its own.
It is essential to keep kids moving inside the classroom, as well. Studies have shown that information is solidified in the brain when the body moves. Why? Because exercise fuels the brain with oxygen, which helps make connections with the learned material. So next time your child needs to study for a test, maybe suggest that they get up and work out some dance moves while reviewing the material.
This whole approach of educating mind, body, and spirit fits in with the trend of 21st Century education. Not only is an active child a more effective learner, chances are that their physical activities involve teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, and putting in the hard work needed to achieve challenging goals. Those are just the skills that their future schools and employers are going to need!
At Sanford School, our curriculum is created with the "whole child" in mind. Not only do we have a strong commitment to regular physical education classes, health courses, and sports, but our 100-acre campus lends itself to movement and learning. Whether students are transitioning between classes by walking around campus, studying outside in science class, playing during daily recess, or using the Smartboard for a math lesson, they are up out of their seats and moving.
Shannon Helmecki is Chair of the Physical Education and Health program at Sanford School in Hockessin DE