Fit to Learn Teachers Discuss Impact of Physical Activity in the Classroom

January 05, 2012

HSC recently hosted a session of Fit to Learn, our professional development program that prepares educators to incorporate health and wellness into their everyday classroom routine. This booster session was focused on in-class physical activity.

We spoke with highly engaged teachers from different schools who shared ways they have implemented Fit to Learn as part of their instruction and the noticeable impact physical activity has had on their students.

Jill Guzman, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Irma Ruiz School, observed: “I’ve seen the kids get more energy. We usually start the day with exercise — it wakes them up. The kids in the afternoon, when they come, they’ve been up for a while so it re-energizes them.” She added, “instead of just sitting around and complaining that they’re tired, they get up and move. They get their second wind, so to speak.”

The group of educators found that incorporating physical activity into their lesson plans can assist in classroom management.  

Yoga helps Irma Ruiz School special education teacher Valerie Kmiecik effectively manage her class. She points out that around lunch, her students are really energized, yet they are tired and don’t want to do much work. “We’ve found it to be a behavior management tool and a way to energize them. If they’re hyper, it calms them down. If they’re too sluggish, especially with all the breaks like Thanksgiving and the time away from school, this peps them up.”

Ruiz School first grade teacher Kristel Negrete uses physical activity to transition to the next lesson throughout the day. Her 29 students have to use their bodies to show that they are paying attention. “It gets their attention right away. I’ll say ‘If you’re listening to me, you’re jogging in place’ just to get them moving from one thing to the next.”

Students have also been very receptive to in-class activity from Fit to Learn. Earle Elementary physical education teacher Mark Franklin said, “I’ve used it with my Kindergarten to third graders and they love it! I can start with the basic yoga movements, but it’s really nice because it really helps them calm down and focus, especially when I need their attention or need them to line up.”

Physical activity contributes to cognitive, emotional, and physical health. Research shows that children who are physically active are better prepared to learn and succeed.

We are happy to see teachers encouraging physical activity as part of the learning process.