My Journey – Movement Journal

Since September, I started to notice how many children within my classrooms have a hard time sitting still. I began to realize that many of them are going through similar experiences to mine. In fact, since I started to attend school again for the BEd Program at UBC, I noticed just how hard it is for me to sit still in class. Luckily since I am in the IB Cohort, many activities we do in class are hands on. But regardless, I still get very restless and jittery and distracted in class to the point where I can’t focus. Having these feelings as an adult helps me to understand how difficult it may be for younger students who haven’t had the experience needed to successfully manage themselves (even I can’t sometimes!).

Incorporating physical education into everyday classroom education is important, and helps children who have a difficult time maintaining attention and focus due to restlessness. For me, I have two techniques that help me maintain my attention. 1) Drawing and doodling in class allows me to relax my mind and body, which helps me have a clear mind to listen to the instructor. 2) Exercise, which helps to release unnecessary energy and ticks that may be affecting me during the day, resulting in a never ending restlessness.

In fact, many studies have been done that showed positive signs between exercise, cognition, and attention. Incorporating physical education into the classroom has many benefits.

  1. 30 Minutes of exercise before school helps kids focus and manage moods.
  2. Exercise preps the brain for learning and encourages appropriate neurotransmitter connections which helps to retain important information.
  3. Controls aggression, and results in a better sleep.



4 thoughts on “My Journey – Movement Journal”

  1. Hi Anna,

    I agree with you completely – I remember in one of my 3-hour summer classes, my instructor gave us mini breaks every 20 minutes, because our attention begins to wane after that point. In fact, my piano pedagogy teacher told me that the optimal attention span of a student is “half of their age plus one”. So if a student is 4 years old, their attention span would be 3 minutes.

    This then brings us to the problem of how many classrooms are managed – often, students are sitting for half an hour or longer, and are expected to be paying attention the entire time. Being at a practicum school that promotes Daily Physical Activity for all students (this is done outside of recess and lunch, and takes place outside whenever the weather permits), I feel lucky to be able to observe the effects that exercise has on the students. As my SA likes to say, it “gets the jitters out of the little ones so they can focus better later”. Consistent to the research that you posted, the students come back energized and more responsive. Even when I plan my lessons, I like to incorporate a variety of different activities so that students have the opportunity to stand up and move around.

    I liked how you brought in examples of how you deal with restlessness – it shows that sitting for long periods of time doesn’t only affect school-aged children! I enjoyed reading your post : )


  2. Hi Anna,
    I totally agreed with you. I also think it’s important to incorporate physical activities into everyday class. One thing I learned from my SA is that as we are transitioning from one lesson to the other, we can get students to stand up and do jumping jacks or any small movements where it doesn’t take too up space, but at the same time students can release the “unnecessary energy”.

  3. Hello Anna,

    The students at my practicum school get the 30 minutes of Daily Physical Activity (DPA) everyday. They have 45-50 minutes of PE on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays they have intramurals at lunch. Even though they are getting a little more than the recommended amount of DPA, they are still restless. This does not particularly surprise me because I have the same experience. Even though I exercise regularly, some days I have difficulty sitting still and focusing. This leads me to believe that we need to have more physical activity in our classrooms. Brain breaks are one great way to do this, and as someone mentioned in an earlier post, is an excellent resource.

    Beyond brain breaks, I think there should be other ways of incorporating physical activity into our classrooms. I think teachers should think about incorporating movement into other subjects in a meaningful way. For instance, Jenn talked about how her kindergarten class and was learning the letter ‘m’, and one activity they had involved making the letter with their bodies. I wonder if adding physical activity would be possible in all subjects and how that would differ depending on the grade. These are some of my thoughts that I will carry forward with me and reflect on throughout my practicum.

    Thanks for the fun facts!


  4. Hi Anna

    I have actually been thinking a lot about this too! During class these past few weeks I have found it especially difficult to sit still in our longer classes. This really puts what we ask our students to do all day into perspective for me. Asking young kids to sit absolutely still for 7 hours a day is unrealistic and not conducive to their best learning. Making sure they are getting enough exercise is so beneficial for their performance in school and their overall well-being. I personally can’t sit still or focus if I haven’t done any exercise, and I’m sure this is the case for our students who are still growing and need to move a lot more than I do at my age! I think as teachers, being able to have activities in our back pockets that can be used as ‘brain breaks’ will be really important to have on hand. Something we learned in yesterday’s group teach was the ‘brain dance’. Julie led us through an exercise starting with standing up and stretching as tall as we could. Then moved our arms and legs around, starting circulation. We moved every part of our bodies and then ended by taking long deep breaths. This made me feel very awake and I instantly felt re-centered. Giving our students this opportunity to refocus is essential and something I truly believe will result in happier children, better performance. Thank you for your post!

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