Physical Movement and Free Play in Learning – #saskedchat Feb 18th/16

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Physical Movement
 As educators, we often hear how important play is for children and adults. In Saskatchewan the InMotion Saskatchewan website is a great resource with links and suggestions for communities, schools, and families to get InMotion. Over and over we are told about how important it is for children to exercise. In The Serious Need for Play  Melinda Wenner explores the importance of play in the lives of children.
Studies show that children use more sophisticated language when playing with other children than when playing with adults. In pretend play, for instance, they have to communicate about something that’s not physically present, so they have to use complicated language in such a way that they can communicate to their peer what it is that they’re trying to say.

Play is an important part of learning for children. In studies of the brain have demonstrated the importance of physical movement and exercise.   In the book Teaching with the Brain in Mind 2nd Ed., Eric Jensen explores

 topics such as motivation, critical thinking skills, optimal educational environments, emotions, and memory. He offers fascinating insights on a number of specific issues, including

  • How to tap into the brain’s natural reward system.
  • The value of feedback.
  • The importance of prior knowledge and mental models.
  • The vital link between movement and cognition.
  • Why stress impedes learning.
  • How social interaction affects the brain.
  • How to boost students’ ability to encode, maintain, and retrieve learning.
  • Ways to connect brain research to curriculum, assessment, and staff development.
This image below shows how parts of the brain are stimulated with interactive play compared to passive watching.
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There are many different examples of how play benefits children and adults. Yet, it isn’t unheard of for schools to reduce the amount of recess and time allotted for Physical Education classes or for students to be kept in at recess or back from PE in order to complete work.
Recent research has demonstrated the impact of a sedentary lifestyle for adults. There is a growing trend in business and offices to offer workers standing desks or the option to have a desk that adjusts from sitting to standing. This is by no means straight-forward but it has opened a discussion about the role and impact of the environment in which we work and play. According to Dr. James Levine as quoted in the article ,
“I think it’s correct to say we’re in the middle of a ‘stand up movement,’ but the emphasis needs to be on movement… I don’t want people to think that they should stand up like still soldiers. That is not a good idea.”
Movement in Education
So what do educators think about the topic? In the February 18th edition of #saskedchat, participants discussed the topic of Physical Movement and Free Play in Learning. Participants were in general agreement that physical movement and free play were important for students at all grade levels and that teachers can incorporate activities during the school day that allow incorporate movement and play. Some participants did acknowledge that the changing dynamics of schools have required that schools revamp recess and other free times to accommodate a growing school population and other issues. To find out more, check out the archive of the chat below as participants have many great ideas and suggestions for incorporating movement and play during the day!
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I am a husband, father, son.... I am currently working on my PhD in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is teacher professional development and social media integration. I have a beautiful, supportive wife who has been my partner for 28 years. We have 8 wonderful children who are amazing individuals. Together, we are exploring the world around us, sharing our stories, and enjoying the journey!