I think we’ve forgotten that children have bodies. I think we’ve forgotten that we were once children in developing bodies and that we had a LOT more opportunities for movement and free play than our students do now. And, to be perfectly frank, our own personal relationships to our now adult bodies can often be quite fraught. There are all sorts of reasons for this that I don’t want or need to go into here, but I think it’s relevant to our work as educators to consider what might be holding us back from exploring this not-so-new modality for learning.
Earlier this summer I tweeted about a post I had put up on the Math on the Move book blog. It shares the account of an educator who used whole-body movement as her primary learning tool for a summer enrichment program based in whole-body movement, rhythm, pattern, and math. The children’s gains in focus, self-esteem, personal expression, and enjoyment of learning were palpable as I read her account but it got me thinking…
These days there are SO many factors impacting why getting kids up and moving during class time might not be a good idea in the moment but, please, consider the long term. Kids in unhappy bodies are unhappy kids. Unhappy kids become dis-interested in learning, and the less interested they are in learning the more divorced they become from their birthright as thinkers, doers, makers, humans.
Perhaps most importantly, despite the incredible change of pace and screen-focused activity in modern life, children still have brains that learn best by moving and pulling sensory input in through all parts of the body. Hundreds of years of thoughtful analysis, research, and observation of children learning and growing has shown this to be true and yet the body is still being marginalized in favor of “knowledge” as something gold and shiny to be won and placed on a high shelf for viewing, far removed from any experience and personal understanding.
If you are trying to make sense of why movement is important to our learners’ bodies AND minds you might also be interested in my post What is learning without a body?