Encouraging our children to move is so much more than making sure they’re getting enough exercise! At Maths Dance, we know the power of movement and what happens when we remove the constraints of having to ‘sit still’, allowing children to be free and let their bodies move. Movement offers all sorts of benefits to development, wellbeing and education. Let’s take a look:
Movement helps mental wellbeing
Aside from all the physical benefits of keeping our kids active (reducing the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and promoting a healthy body mass), movement has huge benefits to mental wellbeing. Beyond the surges of feel-good hormones (Endorphins) as we move, exercise reduces anxiety by dulling our brains’ ‘fight or flight’ system. Anxiety symptoms such as rapid heartbeat become less alarming to those who experience this sort of physiological change through movement. While simple changes of posture and the rhythm of your body can change your brain, reducing stress and increasing a sense of general well-being, in all ages.
Movement boosts memory
When children get moving they’re not just building their muscles. Studies show that when we exercise, muscles release a protein (cathepsin B) which generates new calls and improve connections in the part of the brain that controls memory (the hippocampus). By encouraging kids to move more, we’re encouraging them to shape their brains for the future. Increased blood flow has the potential to even increase the size of the hippocampus.
Movement encourages creative thinking
According to neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, the movement-induced brain changes responsible for better memory might also improve imagination as well. As we move, the process of new brain connections being made increases in speed, meaning the more our children move, the more creativity-supporting connections can be made during their childhood.
Movement encourages social skills
As children are encouraged to move around the classroom or race around the playground, they foster an awareness not required when sitting at their desks – their relationship to space and other people in that space. As they take part in physical games and activities (like dance) children are faced with social tasks like avoiding or inviting physical connection and having peer discussions about how to solve problems using their bodies.
Movement helps cognitive processing
Children need to move their bodies to learn. Observe any classroom and you’ll notice just how much children fidget as they approach cognitive tasks while required to stay at their desks. Children need movement to help them understand language in a richer, fuller way by connecting them to actions they can perform. As Maria Montesorri highlighted in her book ‘The Secret of Childhood’ (1936): Through movement, we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.
Movement builds confidence
There’s nothing power detrimental to a child’s self-confidence than to be denied permission to be who they are. Children are energetic and physical by nature, which means it’s crucial to allow them to move and experience the freedom they were born to enjoy. Celebrating the beauty and joy of movement is through performance is another great way to build confidence, as children are encouraged to take risks and have their input valued.
Are you ready to bring more movement into the lives of the children you teach? Find out more about our maths through movement sessions to see the impact of embodied learning in action.