Time To Move It In English And Maths Lessons

Does sitting down in class limit academic performance and negatively impact on children’s health?

And now some news from the Department of the Glaringly Obvious – “moving your body is good for you.”

Also from Department, “using bleach as a salad dressing isn’t good for you” and “walking barefoot across broken glass could be dangerous”.

What could be any more obvious – “physically active learning” benefits children’s learning. It isn’t really a debate that needs debating but school leaders apparently wasted their time doing just that at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference in Liverpool. Unbelievable.

Anyone that has actually taught a group of lively children will tell you that sedentary learning is the equivalent of battery-hen education. This is why they fidget, mess about and ‘play-up’. They need to move – as we all do. Think about the mind-numbing effects of ‘sitting’ in a staff training session why the edu-expert drones on and you lose the will.

Sedentary learning is inevitable some of the time but activities need to include movement – there is a clue in the word.

Yet ‘activities’ for some are far from active and involve little more than completing a worksheet or talking to a ‘learning buddy’.

Research from Mullender-Wijnsma et al (2016) says,

Physically active academic lessons significantly improved mathematics and spelling performance of elementary school children and are therefore a promising new way of teaching.

Of course, children need to be active in their learning and yes, sometimes they need to be totally free-range.

According to Bryn Llewellyn of Move & Learn, a former school leader from Yorkshire,

Traditional learning approaches limit educational creativity and academic performance, while also negatively impacting on physical activity and health. Physically active learning combines movement and learning.

Surely we don’t need telling this? This is not a new way of teaching!

Mr Llewellyn runs a programme which sees pupils play tag rugby-style games to help them to understand different areas of maths and English. That’s great but teachers have been doing this sort of stuff for decades.

Every effective teacher I know makes creative efforts to incorporate proper activity into activities so that lessons aren’t as dull as dishwater.

Only die-hard traditional teachers who sit at their desks for most of the day need convincing that children who are physically fit are better at absorbing and retaining new information.

It’s far too easy to blame the testing and accountability culture for having children sat down all day – rubbish. Effective teachers make sure that testing is not all doom and gloom but activity based whereby children are…moving.


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