Dr. Ratey explains how after 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity the brain chemistry is altered to allow
brain cell growth and for improved student academic achievement. Physical education is an important part of the learning that takes place in the classroom.
The past five years, I had the privilege of influencing many first through fifth grade students at Sumner Elementary School located in Austin, MN through physical education classes. Now, I teach fifth and sixth grade Personal Wellness at I.J. Holton Intermediate School. My number one goal as a health and physical education teacher is to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to become an active, healthy individual for a lifetime.
This foundation starts in elementary physical education. Austin Public Schools is working hard to meet the needs of our students and improve academic achievement. A research based elementary curriculum was recently adopted, SPARK Physical Education. It has been tested and proven to improve academic achievement, increased moderate to vigorous physical activity, and fitness achievement. Also, we are looking to adopt the Fitnessgram to better assess and report fitness results district wide.
It is recommended that every child get 60 minutes of daily exercise. Most schools do not have daily physical education and recess minutes are limited. As a result, students need more physical activity minutes in their day. Many teachers are incorporating daily physical activity into their classrooms, as they have become aware of the numerous benefits as well. Sumner Elementary School’s classroom teachers have also started Work
Out Wednesdays (WOW!), 30 minutes set aside for moderate to vigorous exercise, not just play, in the school day.
At home, children should be finding ways to get active and play. Television, video games, and computers are very prominent in children’s lives. Unfortunately, the use of technology has caused many adverse effects on their health. I would encourage parents to buy portioned healthy snacks and intentionally create time each day to exercise together. It is important to remember that healthy food choices and exercise habits are formed at young ages.
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