“Movement is the door to learning.”
– Paul Dennison
The fundamental philosophy of Oak Hill Physical Education is to teach the students the importance of physical fitness over a lifetime, to give them the tools to be able to be fit and healthy throughout their lives, and make it a fun and positive experience for every student. In essence, we are teaching them a lifestyle.
Every student knows that the two main goals of PE class every day is to get their heart rates up and to have fun. We spend very little time on sport specific skills; rather we focus on movement and small-sided games that allow every child to be fully engaged and involved. Only 3% of adults over the age of twenty-four stay in shape with team sports, so traditional PE programs fails most students (Spark, Ratey). We want every student moving at all times and having a great time doing it. We also know that there is a direct relationship between physical activity and the ability to learn.
“Emerging research shows that physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another. For the brain to learn, these connections must be made; they reflect the brain’s fundamental ability to adapt to challenges. The more neuroscientists discover about this process, the clearer it becomes that exercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn.”
This comes from a great website called Sparking Life, started by John Ratey, a Harvard professor and doctor, who has done extensive research into exercise and how it affects the brain.
We believe that through daily exercise, we can give our students the potential to be more successful learners.
There is a Physical Education program in Naperville,Illinois that has been putting this theory to the test for over 15 years and the results have been amazing. They went away from a sports-based program and turned to fitness based P.E. and offered their students the chance to take P.E. before their most challenging subjects. Across the board, the students classroom performance improved. The Head Physical Education Coordinator at the school likes to say, “In our department, we create the brain cells. It’s up to the classroom teachers to fill them.” You can read more about the Naperville program at: http://www.learningreadinesspe.com
We have a program called F.A.S.T. LAPS. This is a program designed to give the students another opportunity to exercise their bodies, which in turn will enable their brains to learn better. F.A.S.T. LAPS (Fun Activities Stimulate Thinking) is a running program that is strictly voluntary and done during recess, before or after school. I have laid out a roughly ¼ mile loop around the Lower School, and the students have been given punch cards and at anytime can run or walk around the loop. Each time they complete a lap, their card is punched. Six laps equals a mile and each card represents six miles. When they have completed the equivalent of a marathon (26 miles), they will receive a F.A.S.T. LAPS tee-shirt designed by our 2010 5th Grade class and art teacher Diane Hill. We invite the entire Oak Hill community to participate. This can be accomplished in a few weeks or over several years, there is no time limit, we just want to encourage moving. Harvard University just started a program called Harvard on the Move, which is somewhat similar.