Have you ever witnessed a little girl spinning and singing while pretending to be a fairy or a princess? That same little girl may be playing out a whole narrative and that whimsical twirl may be just one part.
Perhaps you have seen a little boy run around a makeshift fort, also known as a discarded box, warding off invisible trolls with a wooden spoon. Both children were devising creative storylines while moving, building and reflecting on each step.
Movement activities for the classroom
Kids gain useful knowledge through acting and by reflecting on those experiences. Unfortunately, such opportunities pop up too infrequently in school. This type of experiential learning involves a lot of imagination, movement, and child-directed play. Although such learning is quite rare in U.S. classrooms, there is value to it.
Today, preschool and kindergarten students are spending more time on structured academic assignments and less on physical movement. They spend their days confined to tables and overwhelmed with worksheets. Too much emphasis is placed on academic assessments and goals at such an early age.
Restricted movement education
Movement in the classroom has become more restricted. In fact, recent research has shown that in comparison to 1998, today preschool kids are given much less time for free movement activity and self-directed play. Considerably more time is spent in a passive learning setting. When movement education is restricted at a young, developmental stage, the process of learning through reflection is hindered. Children need to explore the world using all of their senses.
Movement and learning
In the best kindergarten and preschool classrooms, movement and learning go hand in hand. Everyone is moving around like bees. Students may be grabbing supplies for an activity, possibly going back and forth trying to decide if they need anything else or simply weighing all of the options. The teacher might be hovering around, providing direction as needed. Physical movement is part of the structured class activities. Students learn through trial and error and by connecting concepts to action.
Movement breaks and recess
Movement and learning work together in so many ways, this has been proven repeatedly in research studies. Movement in the classroom is so important for developing youngsters. Math concepts unfold while children are actively building and moving. Memory skills have been linked to movement. People, in general, absorb new skills better by actively engaging the body and doing, it is harder to learn from observation. Besides, children have trouble keeping still.
Some little kids only get short recess breaks during the school day. It makes more sense to integrate more movement education into the daily schedule. Schools that offer more free play and movement breaks see an increase in kid’s attention spans. They are able to get more out of instructional time. Recess breaks shouldn’t be a separate part of early childhood education.