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Weaving Movement Throughout the School Day for Student Success

By: Permanent Substitute / Extended Day Supervisor Brenna Lacey

May 5, 2021

This winter, the Senior Kindergarten bird unit ended with a wonderful performance of the book Noisy Bird Sing-Along by John Himmelman. Wearing the mask that each had made and decorated in art class, students represented the different species and performed the unique bird calls in the book as our school librarian, Marie Unanue, narrated. Before helping film the performance, I discreetly propped my phone in the back of the room and hit record for a behind the scenes timelapse video. The result was a 30-second clip that could be a subcategory in Newton’s existing law of motion — a kindergartener in motion stays in motion! They wiggled and giggled while bringing the wonderful story to life.

I can say with certainty that by the time my adolescent years rolled around, I had not developed a love for being active. If only I had known how many benefits regular physical activity during childhood has to offer! It promotes lifelong health and well-being, as well as prevents risk factors for various health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes1. Compared to those who are inactive, physically active children and adolescents have higher levels of fitness, lower body fat, and stronger bones and muscles. The benefits of movement for school-aged children go even further to include improved cognition (e.g. academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression, making movement throughout the school day paramount to student success. 

So, where does movement and activity fit into the school day? Anywhere and everywhere! The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 do a minimum of one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Yet, only an estimated 28% of children meet this threshold on a daily basis2. The faculty and staff at Rossman understand the importance of using physical activity and movement to enhance the learning process and are committed to increasing each student’s amount of daily physical activity. This in turn optimizes a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development through active learning. 

Rossman uses physical activity and movement to promote active learning by weaving it into academic instruction in addition to the daily recess and physical education breaks that are specifically designed for it. Below is a sample of how active learning is incorporated into a regular school day at Rossman. 

8:15am — Math warm-up activity in the classroom 

 

  • The teacher presents a math question with four possible answers, each corresponding to a corner of the room. The students have time to solve the problem in their head and then, on cue, all students move to the corner of the room that matches the answer at which they arrived.

8:40 a.m. — Math measuring activity

  • As students learn how to measure in meters and yards, they are divided into small groups and head to the outdoor courtyard to measure various distances.

10:00 a.m. — Recess on the outdoor playground or field

  • Students are encouraged to be active and engage with their peers in activities of their choice through free play.

11:30 a.m. — Brain break

  • After lunch, a short guided activity offers a good transition into Writing Workshop. GoNoodle offers fantastic exercises designed to practice deep breathing, body awareness and mindfulness.

1:00 p.m. — Science class with wobble stools

  • Wobble stools in the science classroom keep the body in motion as a form of active sitting. Wobble stools allow for natural movement, good posture, and keep the body alert while learning about everything from bugs to magnetism!

1:45 p.m. — P.E. in the gym

  • Physical education is incorporated into every single school day at Rossman! Good sportsmanship, development of strong basic sport skills with fundamental motor movement, and teamwork are the underlying goals for the high-energy activities that feel like play. P.E. is at the top of every child’s favorite class list! 

I’ve become familiar with signs and clues of restlessness in each grade level as a permanent substitute this year and therefore regularly see how consistent classroom movement and activity results in improved concentration, ability to stay on task, and increased engagement. All of these factors contribute to a more productive learning environment and a happier, healthier child. Whether wiggling in Kindergarten or an impromptu brain break in sixth grade, Rossman is keeping kids in motion for a bright, successful future!


Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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