Friday, July 17, 2015

If the Bum Is Numb

This summer I'm reading and commenting on the book What If Everybody Understood Child Development? by Rae Pica.

Chapter 10: The Myth of the Brain/Body Dichotomy
Chapter 11: Why Does Sitting Still Equal Learning?

How do you feel when you sit all day? Maybe you're in a meeting or a conference or just at home. Sitting all day can make you really tired. And yet, as Rae Pica says, we expect kids to do it all day while they are learning.

We've bought into the assumption that the body and the brain are separate entities. We want to teach the brain and ignore the body. We limit recess or PE or other times when the body is fully engaged. We equal sitting and listening to learning. Or at least to effective teaching.

Rae quotes teacher Dee Kalman: "When the bum is numb, the mind is dumb."

The brain is more active when the body is moving. Blood is flowing and chemicals for long-term memory and focus increase. Sitting for more than short periods of time (more than 10 minutes) causes us to begin to lose focus and awareness. 10 minutes!

Dance Break! (Brick by Brick)
Dance break!
I've seen it in the classroom. When I taught first graders, we had to have stand up breaks, movement breaks, and even dance breaks. We would move for a short while and then get back to other things. One of our favorite games was Move, Freeze, Add! In my second grade class, we would have "roving practice." Kids would move to a place in the room and spell a word (or solve math equation). Then they would move to a new place to write down their word or math solution. We did this for several minutes. In both classes, I would often tell them to find a partner and we would work together while standing up. Sometimes we would switch partners often.

The younger the kids or the more challenging the thinking, the more need there is to incorporate learning.

Think about easy ways to add movement. At the very least, incorporate brain breaks at regular intervals. Make sure they move across the midline (right hand moving to left side and vice versa). This wakes up the brain.

Keep on moving!

Some links from the book--
And a few more--

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