When kids get to move at school, schools get better.
Move to learn is a concept that was born out of the innovation of talented and creative teachers across Mississippi. When representatives of the Mississippi Department of Education were looking for ways to engage children in learning, improve academic achievement and encourage physical activity, they discovered some Mississippi teachers had found a solution that accomplished each of these goals and helped students not just survive, but thrive in the classroom environment. The concept involves incorporating music and exercise, into the curricula in short, five-minute segments to give kids a “mind break,” help them relax and be ready to refocus on their lessons.
From this initial idea, The Mississippi Department of Education, in partnership with the Bower Foundation, launched the Move to Learn website in October of 2012, and the first exercise videos were also released that month. Move to Learn is a free, web-based program that offers age-specific exercise videos (for grades K – 6), plus 1240 easy-to-use lesson plans incorporating fitness and nutrition, and helpful tips for fitting fitness into the classroom. Did you get that it is FREE? Yes, this program is absolutely free and voluntary for Mississippi teachers, although it also is being utilized by teachers in other states and even from around the world. In fact, since it was first launched, Move to Learn videos have been viewed over a half million times in Mississippi. And, just as amazing is the repeat usage of the program. Over 70% of teachers who have used Move to Learn in their classes have used it more than once.
It turns out, when music and exercise are introduced into the classroom, not only does student health improve, but academic performance improves, too. As confirmed in numerous scientific studies, the more exercise a student gets, the better his or her grades are likely to be. And that’s not all. In several studies of Mississippi students, more exercise was associated with better behavior and less absenteeism.
According to Director of Healthy Schools of the Mississippi Department of Education, some schools play Move to Learn music in the halls in the morning before school to get the kids excited about starting the day, and have found lower incidences of tardiness because kids look forward to starting their day with music and exercise in the classroom.
Another way Move to Learn is moving the students of the state is through live shows. Larry Calhoun, the program’s Pied Piper, featured also in the videos, leads forty-five minute student assemblies that get the kids, faculty and administration out of their seats and moving to the beats. His programs artfully intertwine positive messages about the benefits of good nutrition, sleep, and other healthy habits and the dangers of bullying, all woven into an overall theme of physical fitness. So popular are Larry’s assemblies that there usually is a long waiting list of schools anxious to have him visit and amp up the excitement that is usually contained in the classroom.
In addition to downloadable videos and lesson plans, the Move to Learn website, www.movetolearnms.org, provides instructions on how to get started, as well as teacher and student testimonials on the program’s success. Check it out! You can even download exercise videos for your kids to try at home. When so many kids are suffering from poor nutrition, obesity and inactivity, Move to Learn is bringing fun, fitness, and the pure joy of learning to Mississippi classrooms.