• Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BCSD’s Phyllis Thornthwaite speaks at the Sept. 25 school board meeting.

Sitting in a chair is not the most conducive way for a child to learn … and climbing walls is good for the brain – specifically the kind of climbing done on children’s indoor climbing walls.
Those interesting observations were included in a report by Berkeley County School District Coordinator for PE, Health, and Programs for Children at Risk Phyliss Thornthwaite delivered at the Sept. 25 Berkeley County School Board meeting.
Thornthwaite and College Park Elementary School Principal Amanda Prince gave a presentation on “Action Based Learning,” a pilot program at CPES.
Other county schools using the program are Goose Creek Primary, Devon Forest Elementary, Westview Elementary, Howe Hall AIMS and Sangaree Intermediate.
“We know if kids are happy they are more likely to learn,” Thornthwaite said. “A chronic, stressed brain can’t learn. Exercise elevates and balances neurotransmitters. Exercise grows brain cells.”
Action Based Learning (ABL) aims to help children master developmental skills so they can read, and use specific equipment to enhance their learning as they work out and integrate movement in the core curriculum, according to the presentation.
The learning system encourages teachers to talk for no more than 13 to 17 minutes at a time because after that blood travels below the waist and the brain tells the body it’s sleepy because no oxygen or fuel goes to the brain, according to the presentation.
It places emphasis on getting students to move, integrating activity into lessons, creating movement breaks and changing the environment of students sitting in chairs.
One minute of activity will give a teacher 20 minutes optimal time for students to learn, according to the presentation.
“I used to tell people to exercise for their health,” Thornthwaite said. “Now I tell people to exercise for their brain . . . a brain is only as healthy as the body that carries it.”
“The academic benefit is, it aids the brain with the flow of words and sorting information,” Prince said. “It can be used as a cool-down tool to decrease aggression.”
Prince said ABL is in addition to PE programs, and is open to all elementary schools.
“A couple years ago all our principals had the opportunity to see the program in Charleston County,” BCSD Superintendent Rodney Thompson said. “If our data indicates it has a positive impact we’ll move it to all schools.”
“Every student should be involved in some kind of physical activity every day,” school board member Wilhelmina Moore said.
“There are minimum requirements of PE for students each day,” Thompson said.
“It’s good for students of all ages,” Prince said.

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