If you're a parent, it comes as no surprise that kids like to move. Whether they are 2 or 12, they just don't want to sit still for too long. That's why it's so surprising that the 21st-century classroom is designed for kids to sit for much of the day.
When kids are sedentary for too long they get distracted, bored and fidgety. As recess and physical education are cut in districts across the country, children are being forced to sit longer than ever before. This is having a broad, negative impact.
While physical activity and mental focus might appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, studies show that keeping active actually helps kids to learn. In fact, a report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that "children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active."
A study published in Pediatrics also supports the idea that physical activity and academic performance go hand in hand. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied 7- to 9-year-old students; one group participated in an after-school physical activity program and the other did not. Not only did the exercise group become more physically fit, but they showed improvements on their executive functioning test scores.
Movement-based learning is beginning to garner attention in academic circles nationwide due to studies like these. It appears that kids and adults can thrive through active learning. It can be particularly beneficial when learning specific subjects, such as foreign languages.
"Many scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity," according to the New York Times article, "How exercise could help you learn a new language."
The article refers to a study in PLOS One that compared sedentary adults learning a new language to those who gently rode an exercise bike while learning a new language. The results: "And at the end of each lesson, the students who had ridden bikes performed better on the subsequent vocabulary tests than did the students who sat still," the article notes.
With all these studies in mind, it makes sense that kids, too, would better learn foreign language when they are active and engaged. Active language learning isn't just effective, it makes learning enjoyable for kids. And when kids have fun, learning comes naturally! That's why all Language Stars classes use the FunImmersion approach to learning.
What is FunImmersion like in the classroom? Enjoyable games, hands-on cultural teachings and songs paired with physical movement are typical parts of the curriculum. Kids view coming to class as play, but these activities also strengthen language retention, cognitive growth and support early childhood development. It makes a big difference in children growing their bilingual skill sets; plus, they want to come to class each week. (No begging necessary, parents!)
It's time to say goodbye to the dated idea that learning can only happen in a quiet environment where kids are sitting with noses buried in a book. Activity and learning are a winning combination!