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June 9, 2019

Healthy Movement in the Classroom

The school bell rings. After a brief pause and all at once the rush to be first in line begins! Children hurriedly scramble from every direction directly to their assigned classroom lines. The chatter is loud. The teachers begin to show up one by one with mugs or water bottles in their hands. As the children stand in front of their designated class lines, the laughter and talking begins to soften until eventually there is silence. The students patiently wait for direction from their teachers. Their movement stops.

What does the rest of a student’s day look like? Sure, each school and classroom may have different teaching practices, but many students’ days look similar. Once in the classroom the scheduled activities begin. Despite a given day’s varied curriculum, the reality is that students spend the majority of their class time seated at a desk. Whether it is a math or history lesson, most children are stationary while learning their core subjects. Even in circle time, children will be sitting.

So how does this affect their day? Here is one possibility; remember the student in the classroom (or perhaps we were that student) who could not sit still?  Eventually this led to a reprimand of some sort from the teacher. Beside the general classroom disruption, more often than not, disruptive behavior becomes a pattern and has a long-term negative consequence on the student. Or what about the child whose attention always follows that squirrel? Then there is the more heartbreaking instance of the child who looks like they are suffering and says nothing. Yes, we remember the classroom.

“It is the APTA’s (America Physical Therapy Association) vision to optimize human movement to improve the human experience and it is beneficial across the board,” says Jen ‘O Laughlin PT, DPT, PCS

Healthy movement helps promote general and overall well-being. Numerous studies have shown that inactivity for long periods of time can lead to physical ailments and disease (Physical Inactivity: Associated Diseases and Disorders by Joseph A. Knight M.D). There are many small steps we can take to incorporate movement into our classrooms. In addition to emphasizing increased physical activity and physical education, providing physical instruments and tools in the classroom setting, which can be utilized on a daily basis, provides the opportunity to maximize our student’s well-being in more ways than one.

One such tool is dynamic seating. The soothing feeling that may come from a slight rocking motion can provide a calming mechanism for our anxious students. Or, it can facilitate active attention and being present in the moment. Whether it is a standing desk during different lessons, a rocking chair at a desk, or sitting on a floor rocker while playing videos games with friends, these movement orientated assets can add life and energy to all schools, to all homes, and to all learning and work environments.



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