Daily Movement

A problem:

We’re built for motion, but we imprison ourselves in desks. Human bodies are designed to regularly move and exert themselves. Human brains seem designed to work best when their bodies are being used. When we’ve been moving, we’re happier and healthier. We have more energy to draw on, and yet (somewhat counter-intuitively) we’re calmer, too.

But schools aren’t built for motion. Gym class and recess are sometimes seen as add-ons to the school day — ones that, thanks in part to No Child Left Behind, have become rarer in some schools.

Our basic plan:

Two to three times a day, rain or shine, students will go outside and move! Playing organized games, and engaging in free-form play, they should return a little winded.

And inside the classroom, students will have opportunities to exert their bodies in more limited ways: balancing, stretching, and doing muscle-building.

Our goals:

Our school can help kids be fitter, happier, and calmer than they would be otherwise. The exercise they regularly get allows them to be more awake in the classroom, and think more clearly.

If you walk into our classrooms, you might see:

Kids who, come sundown, will fall asleep very quickly.

Some specific questions:

  • “Rain or shine”? Am I going nuts here? Obviously there are some weather constraints. (When we have blizzards and hurricanes, kids should stay inside!) What are the practical limits? (I do like the idea, however, of having kids go outside in the rain. It’s refreshing — it’s wonderful! Can we have kids just store a change of clothes at the school?)
  • What are the secrets for having gym class not become terrible?
  • What list of outside games and sports should we compose?
  • What inside activities should we have? A balance beam? A trampoline? A climbing wall?
  • Are there any generally-agreed-upon goals that we should be shooting for? (For example, I ran across the phrase “kids should have 60 minutes of exercise each day!” Is that an Officially Thing?)
  • The group PE4Life seems to be a leader in the “make gym amazing” community. Should we approach them for a formal partnership?