While fourth graders are solving their math problems, they are in motion, as educators have discovered that movement helps children concentrate on schoolwork.
Looking out on Jamie Persinger’s fourth grade class at Overbrook Elementary School, a visitor can see that 25 kids are all intently working on solving math problems, and they are all bouncing, sitting on colorful exercise balls.
“When the students are sitting on the balls, their bodies are engaged and their brains are engaged,” said Josh Grant, coordinator in the Office of Secondary Learning at the West Virginia Department of Education.
Persinger attended a recent training that was held by Grant through the Department of Education. She wanted to find ways to incorporate physical activity into the classroom. Teachers are attempting to fulfill a state law requiring children to get 30 minutes of exercise besides recess.
Balls were introduced into the classroom incrementally. Within a few weeks, students were bringing in balls of different shapes and sizes to share.
The difference in classroom behavior has been noticeable according to Persinger. “They were constantly getting up by going to the bathroom, dropping their pencil, or throwing something away. … [It was] just up and down, up and down — like popcorn. It’s hard when they’re gone. They are missing stuff.”