Extraordinary Lower School Opportunities
Is Exercise Good for Your Brain?
You may have heard that physical exercise is not only important for your body's health, but it also helps your brain. A school’s fitness program can truly benefit both the physical and mental aspects of learning. Recently, Charlotte Country Day Middle School Physical Education teacher, McKensy Phillips, shared some tips and information with colleagues about using physical activity in the classroom to further engage and inspire learning. These tips can easily be used at school and at home.
Did you know?
Exercise releases a protein called BDNF, which keeps brain cells functioning and growing. This protein can be called “the master molecule of the learning process.” Greater amounts of BDNF mean that your brain is better able to make the connections between the brain cells (neural networks) that are the physical representation of what you have learned.
So what does this mean?
Exercise is not just good for the heart and muscles, it’s good for the brain. So much that many researchers believe that getting your students’ heart rates up after learning new material may facilitate the learning process.
How to implement
Once you teach new information, give your children some time to ponder it (read: don’t just keep going forward). For example, when teaching a new concept in math, instead of teaching it and then immediately allowing them time to tackle some equations, give the students a small break to move around, allow connections to be made, boost the blood flow to the brain a bit, rejuvenate, and then get focused. This both activates the oxygen, blood flow, and brain cells, but it also helps refocus the students’ attention.
Tips for using exercise for learning in and out of the classroom
- Have children get up and do 10 jumping jacks.
- Ask them to move their desks around so they adjust from a teacher-lecture pattern to a peer-share configuration.
- Have students go get something from the outskirts of the room.
- Give the students a quick water break.
- Have the kids stand up and high-five each other after each correctly solved equation.
Physical education at Country Day
Country Day students love their physical education classes for one reason – fun! They’d be surprised to know how much science lies behind our comprehensive fitness program. In Lower School, the award-winning program brings whole grades together every day for 30 minutes of exercise and community building. Recognized by the state of North Carolina as an N.C. Physical Education Demonstration School, our program incorporates cardio, strength, flexibility, and agility – all four key components of fitness. It also creates an opportunity for entire grades to interact, leading to better social skills and higher self-esteem. All of this unfolds every day in outstanding facilities that include a gymnasium, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor tracks, and plenty of field space. All Middle School students also participate in physical education every day. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with emphasis placed on improvement.
Country Day’s program is also recognized by the Governor’s Council on Physical Education and Health for our efforts to improve physical education programming and by the National Physical Education Association, which recognizes top elementary physical education programs in the nation.