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How to Enhance Students' Mental Fitness During the Winter Months

  BY: JENNY WISE

  Updated: December 12, 2021

Credit : pixels.com by RODNAE Productions

Improving students’ mental fitness often includes getting them moving. While classroom teachers are not expected to be physical education teachers, they do understand the value of getting kids actively participating in lessons and using their bodies in addition to their minds to enhance learning. Providing opportunities for students to use their hands and whole bodies while learning is especially conducive during the winter months when kids have fewer chances to go outside for recess. To help enhance students’ mental fitness during winter, here are some tips and activities, presented by Reach Educational Services.

Use Physical Activity Breaks

Most kids have difficulty sitting still for extended periods. Researchers and teachers have found that physical movement increases brain function, especially because physical activity increases blood flow in the body and delivers more oxygen to the brain for improved concentration. That’s why using physical activity breaks is a great way to help keep kids focused on learning.. These activity breaks can energize a group in the morning or after lunch, or calm your class prior to a test or dismissal time. Regardless of whether you refer to these active breaks as Brain Breaks, Energizers, or Brain Boosters, try to include moderate activity to get kids’ blood pumping.

You will sharpen your students’ minds even more by using physical activity breaks that integrate concepts from your lessons and units. For example, kids may be able to take a shot at a basketball hoop in your classroom if they correctly define a vocabulary word. 

Make Time for Yoga and Meditation

You may have seen the headlines about public schools using meditation and yoga in place of detention and suspension in order to promote positive behavior. Schools are creating soothing spaces where kids can go if they act out in class or need to practice mindfulness. Teachers are adopting meditation and yoga practices in their classrooms to address social and emotional factors that influence kids’ behavior and act as roadblocks to their learning.

 

When used on a regular basis in the classroom, yoga and meditation refocus kids and help them get in a calm, relaxed frame of mind that is open to learning. Studies show that yoga and meditation reduce stress levels in students, which leads to better academic performance. Studies also show that yoga and meditation, along with mindfulness training, improve students’ attentiveness and self-control. By practicing yoga and meditation in the classroom, students are sharpening their minds and experiencing better academic achievement.

 

When you take care of your own mental fitness, it’ll be easier to teach your students. Teachers can also incorporate yoga and meditation into their own routines to help them focus and feel less stressed. Other helpful stress management techniques include breathing deeply, eating healthy, and recognizing trigger points. Another idea is maintaining a healthy home. By decluttering, keeping things organized, and adding some indoor plants, you can create a calming space that makes it easier to stay calm and focused.  

Hands-On and Whole-Child Activities

Students learn better when they perform a hands-on activity or movement. Many students who have the opportunity to engage in hands-on experiences in class have higher levels of engagement and learning. This experiential learning involves students actively taking part and ensures that they understand more than they would from memorizing material or listening to lectures. 

When students participate in hands-on experiences that involve the whole child, they actively engage in learning experiences that cement the content being taught. They may manipulate physical objects, do physical movements to mimic processes, or engage in hands-on learning such as science experiments; these sorts of activities are highly engaging and activate various areas of students’ brains. 

Common hands-on activities for classrooms include: using flashcards for vocabulary practice; using sentence strips to practice vocabulary, or to make sentences and paragraphs; placing words into graphic organizers; making foldables; moving to music; and playing card games. Students also can perform skits or move their bodies to demonstrate a process.

Students who engage in the learning process by participating in physical activities learn more and perform better on assessments. If you are not already doing so in your classroom, consider adding physical activity breaks, yoga and meditation, and hands-on and whole-body activities to your lesson plans to help sharpen your students’ minds and make the winter months less static.

If you need support from an education coach you can contact Reach Educational Services at 803-757-0156.

Meet The Author

My name is Jenny Wise I am a Special Educator. I am a stay-at-home parent to 4 beautiful children. My husband and I made the decision to home-educate when our oldest was four years old. During this journey, we have expanded our family, and faced many challenges along the way. With every challenge, we have experienced great rewards.

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