Learning Comes Through Movement

“Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.” -Maria Montessori

In my early years of teaching Sunday School and other ministry classes, there would often erupt from my mouth a very common phrase, “Please sit down and be quiet.” If I had a dollar for every time I have said or heard someone say that phrase. . .

When I began to homeschool our oldest daughter the same issue would arise. I was constantly having to ask her to quit fidgeting, stop singing, pay attention and not doodle, etc. Rather than seeing this as a problem that needed to be fixed, I started to see  her need for movement and action. I thought back to when I was in school and remembered all the times I just wanted to get up and do something, anything else. I remembered all the kids that constantly got in trouble for fidgeting or not paying attention.

It seems that modern education is designed to inoculate the brain with pure information. There is little, if any, whole body involvement, and when it is present it's usually segregated from actual instruction time.

Learning is thinking and movement integrated.

Learning involves the body and the mind.

Observing my children over the years, I have come to understand just how important the entire body is to learning. Probably no learning happens without three things occurring – thinking, feeling, and doing.

They use their body in far more ways than we realize. When one of my girls is intent on a task, they often use rhythmic movements to keep themselves focused. If they need to clear their mind or reflect on something, they use exercise or imaginative play to sort out information.

Studies have shown that there is a link between physical activity and academic performance. Before we simply add exercise in between studies, however, I think we can take a step back and find a more natural approach.

I don't think it is really necessary to separate thinking from movement as far as learning goes. Kids like to move while they are learning. Sitting quiet in a classroom is more for the benefit of the teacher than it is for the students.

We need to put movement back into learning. After 1st or 2nd grade, it seems teachers and even homeschoolers focus less and less on the whole body during instruction time, and instead teach the mind and mind alone. Children as well as adults need the freedom to learn through play, games, song, dance, and working with their hands.

Check out the 10 ways my kids learn through movement.

Now when I teach Sunday School and I see fidgeting, I give the kids some playdough to manipulate. We go outside and play games, or we act out the stories. There are far less distractions and complaints when class involves their entire bodies.

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Aadel Bussinger
Aadel has been married to her career Army man for 13 years and they have 2 daughters and a freshly made son. She is a homeschooling mom, volunteer, and online college student. Her hobbies include cooking, organic gardening, sewing, and crocheting. She blogs about their military, unschooling life at These Temporary Tents.
Aadel Bussinger

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3 thoughts on “Learning Comes Through Movement

  1. I love this post! I think movement is incredibly underrated, especially as we turn more to quantifiable test scores for measures of aptitude.

    As a dance undergrad, I learned so much better in math class, English class, and pretty much all my classes, because I was getting clarity of movement from my dance classes. For some people they get that from sports, the gym, going out dancing. As long at the body is being used in 3-dimensional space, it’s helping make the body as a whole better at learning!

    1. I agree! So much of academics focuses on the brain alone and not the entire body – especially in the older grades. Even just getting up and walking around can help so much with focus and clarity of mind. Thanks for stopping by!

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