'Grammar gym' brings movement to the classroom


Moving to four 15-minute recreations could help improve children’s concentration during teaching time. — AFP

Whether it’s moving your arms and legs to learn grammar, handling various objects or upping recreations, movement can be an excellent way of boosting children’s capacity for learning. “Grammar gym” is one such solution.

Children’s access to sport and exercise may have suffered under current coronavirus restrictions, but what about using physical activity as a way of learning? This approach to teaching seems to be bearing fruit in some spheres.

South of the French city of Orléans, for example, primary school teacher Delphine Guichard has been using one such method with her fourth- and fifth-graders for years. On her teaching blog, which she runs under the name “Charivari, ” the teacher explains one of her methods for teaching grammar, which she calls “grammar gym”. Basically, grammatical categories like nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs are matched to poses. For example: arms above your head for a verb, arms up plus standing on one leg for an adverb.

“The process is very simple: I say the first word in a sentence. Students take the pose that they think is appropriate. We discuss it if needed, then we move on to the next word, ” explains the teacher in her blog post. “Those who are unsure copy their friends a bit, but that doesn’t matter.”

It’s a way of making learning a little more fun. “We laugh when you have to stand on one leg (adverb), we suffer a little when you have to crouch down then get up again quickly and above all, we revise, ” concludes Guichard.Recreation boosts learning

In the early 20th century, Maria Montessori’s work already addressed the idea of learning through movement, forming part of her eponymous approach to education: handling and touching objects and getting kids moving to favour learning. This approach is known as “embodied learning”.

On the other hand, the American pediatrician, Bob Murray, suggests interspersing periods of teaching with several periods of major physical activity. Ideally, kids would get regular breaks. The brain supposedly retains information better when kids return from recreation, for example.

Several schools in Texas and in California tried out the system in 2017. They moved to four recreation periods for children in kindergarten and first grade while focusing on the development of the children’s personalities and positive behaviours. According to the website apprendreaeduquer.fr, teachers from Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth (one of the pioneers in the United States, inspired by the Finnish model) soon saw that the children seemed less distracted, more attentive and talked less in class since the fourth recreation was introduced. – AFP Relaxnews

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