Guest blogger Loren Shlaes is a registered pediatric occupational therapist and regular contributor to the special needs blog at Pediastaff (where this post is also being published). This is the third in a series of posts from Loren about how to help students who may be challenged with attention, sensory, or other issues be successful in the classroom. Most likely, you have at least a few students with these challenges every year, but even if you don’t, the information in these posts is relevant to all teachers.
I am SO excited about this post! Loren tells us exactly why physical activity really is critical for learning! If you teach at one of those schools that is cutting recess and PE, try showing this to your principal!
Recess and Physical Education are Crucial to Academic Success
Movement is what activates the brain and drives development forward. For this reason, recess is just as important, if not more important, than anything else in the curriculum. Movement is essential to learning. For the first six years of a child’s life, his knowledge is based almost entirely on his physical interactions with his environment. His understanding of the world is based on his understanding of himself and his body in relation to gravity. Children need to move in order to develop and refine their balance, coordination, visual motor integration, endurance, and core strength, all of which directly affect their ability to function in school. According to Jean Ayres, the occupational therapist who developed sensory integration therapy, if the brain develops the capacity to perceive, remember, and motor plan, then this ability can be applied toward mastery of all academic and other tasks, regardless of the specific contact. In other words, preventing a small child from moving and forcing him to sit still for hours on end every day impedes his neurological development, interferes with his health, and impairs his ability to attend and learn.
Never Cancel Recess!
Minds in Bloom would also like to thank PediaStaff for collaborating with Loren to make this series possible. PediaStaff places pediatric therapists in schools, clinics, and hospitals throughout the country. In addition to their highly informative blog, they also have a huge Pinterest presence with over a hundred boards pertaining to education, child rearing, special needs, and various kinds of therapies. This post can also be viewed on the PediaStaff blog.
Did you learn something new from Loren? Do you have ideas to add? Please comment.