Opinion: Commentary: Physical Activity Important in Virtual Learning

Opinion: Commentary: Physical Activity Important in Virtual Learning

By integrating creative and sustainable practices and programs into the school day, kids feel better, focus better and learn better.

The decision to remain 100 percent virtual as Alexandria City Public School resumes wasn’t surprising, but the official announcement was still a jolt. The entire school community was thoughtful and deliberate in getting to this point and have presented a solid plan to keep learning on track for every single student. RunningBrooke is 100 percent invested in being part of the process to keep kids active and primed for learning, wherever learning takes place.

While the challenges are there for sure, so are opportunities. Two that stand out right now: To enhance learning for all students, transform the new “home” classrooms and the traditional classrooms for when kids go back.

How? At home, right now, provide every kid with their own active learning toolkit. When they return to school, rather than traditional desks and chairs at school, kids come back to active seating that allows them to incorporate their natural need for movement with learning.

What? The at-home learning toolkit includes items like fitness cubes, resistance bands, bean bags, fitness movement calendars and more. Active seating is equipment such as standing desks, balance ball chairs, wiggle cushions, wobble stools. These tools and equipment promote focus and concentration and squashes time-consuming disruptions for students.

Why? Because evidence increasingly shows that for many kids, the more sedentary, rigid environment is less conducive to optimal student engagement.

Need more? A study out of Texas A&M found standing desks increase engagement and efficiency by 45 percent among adults and from 15 to 25 percent in students. Wobble stools increase positive posture and allow for students to fidget and move in their space, making them more productive. And the Centers for Disease Control says that movement provides brain stimulation to improve not only focus, but memory and retrieval as well.

RunningBrooke is at the forefront of this movement. Through our Move2Learn and Move2Learn-At-Home programs, we are sparking a movement revolution in virtual classrooms and in schools. By integrating creative and sustainable practices and programs into the school day, kids feel better, focus better and learn better.

How? We provide grants to ACPS teachers and administrators to outfit their classrooms with active seating, stationary bikes and other solutions. The grant application process is in full swing so students have what they need to be successful. We also offer a wide-range of tools, resources and ideas for ACPS teacher orientations and professional development days to prepare them on day-one to incorporate movement into their school day.

Since March, when schools closed due to COVID-19, we’ve engaged with thousands of parents and caregivers to offer them Move2Learn-At-Home toolkits and videos to support their kids and integrate creative movement with learning.

The data is promising and the feedback is positive among grant recipients and program participants. They’re seeing improved focus, efficiency and structure in the classroom. In a survey taken at the end of the 2019 school year, 97 percent of the teachers who took it say that daily physical activity was a positive addition to their classroom efficiency and structure, and 91 percent reported improved student focus.

All students from all backgrounds benefit from incorporating intentional and sustainable movement throughout the school day. So, let us use this opportunity to think outside the box, take action to enrich traditional classroom and home learning across Alexandria and provide the kind of learning landscape that benefits everyone. https://runningbrooke.org/