Classroom exercise can be a source of joy for both students and teachers, but to fit exercise into an already stressed schedule, it needs to have clear objectives and measurable results. Many teachers feel uncomfortable about implementing an exercise program because they don’t have sufficient confidence in their own knowledge and skills. The benefits far out weigh the challenges—the trick is to find the right program that works for you and your classroom. Let’s start off by looking at the benefits of classroom exercise.
We’ve all heard about the epidemic of obesity. Besides just the physical and social problems of overweight children, there are significant learning challenges. Exercise helps stimulate the mind as it stimulates the body. Short sessions of physical activity will improve alertness, focus attention and raise self esteem. Those benefits are good for all students! The challenge is to develop a program that you can do easily in the classroom and meets your comfort level as an instructor. Let’s review your options.
Yoga is a wonderful exercise program. People who aren’t familiar with yoga can still introduce it to students at a basic and introductory level. Even at that level, it produces excellent results in the right classroom environment.
If you ever feel that your class is too rambunctious or unfocused, turn to yoga as a way to increase attention and build calmness. You won’t need a lot of space or any extra supplies. You can learn more by visiting a local yoga studio or go on-line to read about yoga practices or you can jump right in and buy Roylco’s R62011 Body Poetry: Yoga Cards for children 4 years and older.
The kit contains a complete guide to implementing yoga in your classroom. Each session starts with breathing exercises and stretches that help children build an awareness of their body while focusing the attention. Once they reach a calm mental place, they can start recreating the yoga poses. Roylco has produced large, vibrant cards that you can use to show students how to create each pose. When students see the children pictured on the cards in the poses, they naturally want to try them on their own.
Roylco has produced three challenge levels of poses: easy is framed with a green border; intermediate is framed with a yellow border; challenging is framed with a red border. Children love challenging themselves to higher and higher levels of poses. Arrange the cards in different configurations to keep the exercise routines fresh and fun. Roylco has provided suggested routines to get your started. Each session should be 10-20 minutes long. When your students have mastered the poses, let them create their own routines. They can sort through the cards and arrange them with special themes in mind based on the illustrations pictured with the children on the front of each card. To help you feel more comfortable teaching yoga, Roylco has printed instructions for each pose on the back of the card. As you display the card to your students, you can describe how to recreate the poses.
After each session, you should see results. Your students should be more focused, calmer and yet invigorated. Although it’s great to have a routine time of day for your exercise sessions, try different times so you can evaluate the best time to have a session. Some teachers find mid morning or mid afternoon to be the best time to use yoga to reinvigorate their students. Other teachers use it to start the day. There are some teachers who have second sessions right before tests or assemblies to help focus their students’ minds.
Although yoga is a great exercise activity that doesn’t need a lot of space or any extra supplies, it is not your only option. If you find that your students are already calm and maybe even sedate, get them up and moving with Roylco’s R62010 Animal Action Cards. The intent of this exercise program is to get the heart thumbing and the mind racing! Each of the 16 picture cards features a photograph of an active child along with a beautiful animal illustration. Children in your class assume the pose of the child pictured on the card and then carry out the action of the animal. Students can flap their arms to represent a bird or jump like a frog. Three challenge levels will keep kids entertained and motivated.
If you are looking for something to really inspire mental well being, try Roylco’s R62015 The Laugh Track. This system is based on Laughter Yoga and come with hilarious pictures of students doing funny activities AND a CD filled with music featuring human laughter. Your students won’t be able to resist laughing when they see the pictures and hear the tunes. More importantly, laughter builds core strength while producing endorphins. Just think how wonderful it will be to spend 15 minutes doing hilarious activities on a dreary day! You and your students will end the session refreshed and ready to learn. All you’ll need is a CD player.
If time is tight but you still want to integrate a physical activity program, combine it with another subject area. Teach letter recognition, the alphabet and spelling with Roylco’s R62017 Twist and Spell Exercise Cards. The 48 cards show happy children posed to resemble letters. Popular letters are repeated. Once children learn how to make each of the letter shapes with their bodies, organize the cards into words and start spelling with the students’ whole bodies! It’s fun and perfect for kinesthetic learners.
Exercise has many benefits beyond controlling weight. In the classroom, it can help focus the mind, increase self discipline and promote higher self esteem. Roylco makes it easy for teachers at every level to conduct short, daily exercise routines. Just pick the one that you think is most closely aligned to your needs and get started. Enjoy this time with your students. It can be a wonderful bonding experience!