Counting and Jumping: Making Physical Activity a Regular Part of Classroom Learning

December 08, 2009

by Tara Kennon, HSC communications manager

Those familiar with HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools coalition may remember Dolores Navarro, the kindergarten teacher at McCormick School who found ways to make physical activity a regular part of the daily routine in her classroom when she noticed the toll that childhood obesity and asthma were taking on her community.

She observed that even very young children were out of breath after climbing the stairs and decided that she could give them chances to be active all day.

“Looking at those little kids who have trouble breathing, trouble exercising – you just reach the point where you say: Stop! It’s got to stop,” she said.

Once she began thinking about it, she found countless ways to bring activity and healthy messages into the classroom.  “We can integrate the messages into math, with science,” she said. “We have to be more conscious of the information we are giving children.”

When HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools coordinator Jovita Flores dropped by McCormick School this week, she caught Ms. Navarro and her students in the act – jumping, waving their arms, and otherwise being active and creative during a lesson on numbers. The students happily jumped through different movements to match different sets of numbers, exercising their brains and their bodies at the same time.

Ms-navarro-class

“They are more open to doing work and finishing their tasks after they are physically active,” Ms. Navarro explained. “They have more energy. Their brains are more focused, more alert. Their brains are working – when they do math, they get through the problems quickly, just like that!”

Kudos to Ms. Navarro and her kindergarten math stars!