Let’s Move…for Health, Behavior & Academics

by | Mar 16, 2015

Boy with tongue outThe report from our good friend’s preschool was disturbing. Naptime was creating behavior problems for her daughter, and the school was now considering sending her home each afternoon.

We knew she wasn’t much of a napper, but after some additional sleuthing, we found something that could be making naptime an even bigger challenge. Her school provided few opportunities for physical exercise. In fact, they had as little as 15 minutes a day – yet expected the kids to nap for an hour or more.

This school’s regimen isn’t unique. Less than half of American youth are getting the minimum 60 daily minutes of physical activity recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recognizing this, Oregon lawmakers passed HB 3141 back in 2007, which mandated 150 weekly minutes of PE for K-5 students and 225 weekly minutes for students in grades 6 through 8. Schools were given 10 years to ramp up their programs and meet these goals. Yet between then and 2014 physical activity actually dropped for the youngest students in our state.

Why More Physical Activity?

Brain with BarbellAs we’ve regularly noted, the link between physical activity and health is strong. Evidence also suggests that physical activity helps improve academic achievement, cognitive skills, and classroom behavior. The research continues to confirm that increasing time dedicated to physical education helps academic performance.

Now, in all fairness, Oregon schools – like others across the country – have tough choices to make. Physical education teachers and programs are often among the first to be cut during critical funding debates, and the demands and costs of meeting higher academic standards are taking their toll. With little new funding, schools will need to get even more creative to meet both mandates and children’s health needs.

Yoga Calm Presents a New Approach at National PE Conference (SHAPE)

That’s why we were so excited to be chosen to present Be Active and Reduce Stress! Integrating Yoga into the School Day at this week’s SHAPE conference. This is the biggest Health and PE conference in the world, with thousands attending. Our presentation will include the results of our Wayne State University research project at Hoover Elementary School  near Detroit, Michigan, as well as our work at Bridger Elementary in Portland, Oregon, where the school received a PEEK grant to implement Yoga Calm.

We will be sharing how the inclusion of physical yoga increases youth physical activity rates at school and home and that it reduces kids’ stress and improves behavior. Results from our previous research in Minneapolis Public Schools concurs, showing improvement on “time-on-task” and more quality instructional time as behavior incidents go down – key contributors to improvements in academics.

Bringing the support of children’s health back into the education of our youth is exciting, especially when it also helps to meet social/emotional learning and academics. What’s more, other studies of mindfulness and yoga in schools indicate that the staff also benefits, as their stress is reduced and job satisfaction increases.

Why Can’t We Have It All?

With the miniscule costs of a bringing a yoga program into a school versus other curricula, who says we can’t meet our children’s health needs, academic standards and support staff satisfaction and retention? Contact us to find out how we have done this with other schools.

As for our friend’s daughter, her mom moved her to a new school that has the kids actively moving an hour or more each day. Naptime is now a breeze. And she’s doing great academically. Who says we can’t have it all?

Keep an eye out for our updates from the SHAPE conference this week via Facebook and Twitter.

Other Resources for Increasing Kids Physical Activity

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