The Walking Classroom Successfully Promotes Exercise and Learning

I love to write about promoting learning and exercise for children.  Have you heard about The Walking Classroom, an award-winning national program initiated by a teacher and that is now sponsored by a nonprofit organization?  If you haven’t, let me tell you about this amazing program.

It was developed by Laura Fenn, M.S. Ed, who was a 5th grade teacher.  She observed that children in her classroom who were more active performed better academically.   She put together a program called Walk, Listen and Learn, and saw her students’ academic performances improve by the end of the year.  Before long, she expanded her program to different grade levels and promoted it nationwide.   

According to its website www.thewalkingclassroom.org, the program is for students in grades 3 to 8.  They take short walks of up to 20 minutes with walk-kit devices.  On the devices are up to 167 podcasts, each beginning with a brief  message on a health conscious topic and then subjects on English language, arts, social science, and much more.  There is even a series of podcasts for STEM.  All the podcasts meet nationally-approved standards. 

Teachers are provided with lesson plans and quizzes.  For students who need special attention, The Walking Classroom provides teachers with instructions for children who have ADHD, dyslexia, and autism.

Its website is filled with information about the program as well as how to participate.Please take a few minutes and look at what it has to offer.Many students will benefit from this type of teaching tool and it would be worthwhile to investigate all that this program has to offer.

Should Children Help Clean Their Own Schools?

Photo provided by Singapore Press Holdings

The fact that children in Japan help to clean their own classrooms and schools is back in the news.  That is nothing new though, as they have been doing so for many years.  It is a tradition called o-soji (cleaning).

According to Fino Menezes, author of the online article Should Children Clean Their Own Schools? Japan Thinks So, Japanese children are better for it.  How? “They are learning to respect their surroundings. They are learning that it’s better not to make a mess if you are the one who has to clean it up.”

Children spend about 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week, and then a longer time at the end of each semester cleaning.  Often, students from higher grades assist students from the lower grades.  As a result, young children are being mentored and older children are teaching younger ones.   The cleaning is done to fun music and the children are happy and smiling doing the tasks.

According to Donald Ash, an American who teaches in Japan, in his website article Huh? Japanese Kids Clean Their Classrooms?!?, he was very surprised to see this tradition in practice.  Coming from the public school system in Georgia, he never cleaned at the school except if it was part of a school club project.  The common thinking was “Let the janitors handle it.” But, once he was a teacher in Japan, he was awe struck by the children so willingly cleaning.  He comments that even the most difficult students gladly cleaned.

At the end of his article Mr. Ash asks: “Do you think it could ever happen at your school (in the US)?”  What do you think?

For more, read: Should Children Clean Their Own Schools? Japan Thinks So, or Japanese Kids Clean Their Classroom? 

Using Music to Help Children Build Language and Literacy Skills

Studies have shown that music helps students learn not only rhythm and motor skills, but importantly also language and literary skills.  One such study, by Professors Patricia Cullingham and Richard Allington in 2011, found that when we see or hear words in a new context, our brain creates new synapses (connections) to those words. Professors Cullingham and Allington advocate that children be exposed to vocabulary and other literacy skills in different and meaningful ways. Music has been a very effective tool in bringing meaning to new material including skills in literacy.  

How can parents use music to help their children with language and literacy skills? First, parents can use songbooks so that their children read the words and sing their favorite songs. Second, parents can sing songs with their children.  Visit this website for songs that build reading and language skills - CLICK HERE.

Third, take the words that are repeated in songs and read them in print.  Two books that can be used are Over the Rainbow and Puff the Magic Dragon, both beautifully illustrated by Eric Puybaret.  Fourth, encourage your children to take part in afterschool music ensembles that inspire creativity and involve expression through the arts.