Brain-based Teaching Tip 2 – Move to Learn
Children who move more focus better, learn more quickly and remember what they’ve learned longer than children who are sitting all day.
It only makes sense. If you are moving you’re getting more oxygen to your brain, right? It stands to reason that increased movement would help children to learn: moving more equals more blood to the brain. But it does more than that. If you want to shake things up in your homeschool, remember: move to learn!
For a better understanding of how you learn more when you move more, watch this TEDx talk by Dr. John J. Ratey. He starts talking about exercise in schools at about the four-minute mark, but the best is at the end.
This is the second post in a blog series on brain-based teaching tips for your homeschool. And here is Tip #2:
Move to learn. Your children’s brains are engaged more when they are moving.
Susan Griss in her article, The Power of Movement in Teaching and Learning describes three scenarios much like these:
First Scenario: You’re lecturing your kids about the American Revolution. You’re talking. They’re listening (you hope).
Second Scenario: You and your children are having a joint discussion about the American Revolution.
Third Scenario: Your kids are working together practicing a dramatization they’d planned of a scene from an exciting novel about the American Revolution, such as Johnny Tremain.
Ms. Griss then asks, how much brain activity do you think would be generated by each example?
Of course – the third one is going to generate much more brain activity. Why?
In the third example, your kids are moving. They are engaged in every way– mentally, socially and physically. Of course, their brains are going to be firing on more cylinders!
Research shows that students learn more when they move more.
According to Dr. Ratey’s video above, the more fit children are, the more they’re academic scores go up. Frequent exercise helps prepares kids’ brains to learn. It helps them focus.
And some studies show that movement integrated into the subject being taught helps kids become more involved in and remember what they’re learning.
So, moving more prepares the brain to learn more effectively, moving more helps students focus, and moving more engages kids and helps cement learning.
Examples of movement to get more oxygen to the brain and help children focus
Your students need regular daily exercise AND they need to move frequently during the day. This applies to your high schooler as well as your kindergarten student. You think better when you have more oxygen to the brain.
So, break up periods of sitting regularly with any whole-body movement. It may be as simple as these examples:
- have your kids stand by their chair every so often and do some jumping jacks.
- have them sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair to do their math lesson or written work.
- suggest your middle schooler play a little one-on-one basketball outside with your high schooler during a 20-minute mid-morning or mid-afternoon recess.
- Have a dance party in between subjects
- I’ve also been known to send someone having trouble focusing to run around the house a time or two. Or clean the baseboards.
Integrate movement into all subjects
Eric Jensen, in his ground-breaking book, Teaching with the Brain in Mind, declares “Brain-compatible learning means that educators should weave math, movement, geography, social skills, role play, science, and physical education together.”
Here are ways to easily incorporate more movement into the different subjects you’re teaching. The movement might be related to the subject or not:
- Do a mini-history lecture or listen to narrations while you’re walking.
- Also, while walking, have your student(s) practice skip-counting…. Count by twos, threes, fives… if you do this with your younger students you’ll be giving them a helpful start on multiplication tables coming in a couple of years.
- Incorporate movement into your math or spelling lesson. Stand in a circle with your students. You’re holding a ball. You start by saying a suitable math equation, such as ‘three plus four equals….?” (or announce a word to spell) and throw the ball to one of your kids. If she answers the question correctly, she can come up with the next problem (or word to spell) and throw the ball to someone else. (You can do this with multiple ages — just customize the question like 3 x 4 =? instead of 3+ 4 = ? (or suggest a more difficult word to spell.)
- Have your kids “show you” how a character from a read-aloud might be feeling.
- Play charades trying to guess different people and events from a period of history.
- If you have a couple of students handy, act out a simple math word problem.
- Ask a student to demonstrate while talking through the life-cycle of a butterfly or a frog.
- move like molecules move in different states of matter (lesson plan for this here)
It may take some out of the box thinking for you to get more movement into your learning, but this gives you a place to start.
I’ve given you some examples for math, spelling, history/literature and science.
What other ideas can you come up with to get your kids to move more so they can learn more? Tell me in the comments.
Related Posts about Brain-based Teaching
- Read the first post in this series: Brain-based Teaching Tips for your Homeschool.
- Get your children’s brains ready to learn: Turn listeners to learners by priming their brains.
- You’ve heard about subject integration? See how multisensory learning works.
- How to teach your children to believe in themselves