- Associated Press - Sunday, January 21, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Some county students are skipping, jumping and rolling their way to better concentration and more refined motor skills.

Students at Taylor Elementary School are now participating in Minds in Motion, a program designed to boost visual and auditory processing and motor skills like balance and coordination. It’s a simple program, but Taylor Elementary is hoping for big results.

Erin Chrzanowski, assistant principal at Taylor Elementary School, said they became interested in the program when a teacher from another district mentioned it to her. She began to look into the program, and she knew it was something she wanted to bring to Taylor.

“Honestly, there are so many kids in this building,” she said. “We knew we needed to do something to help with behavior and academics.”

Students work through the program by going from station to station and completing a handful of tasks. These activities are structured and simple. Students are told to walk up the stairs backward, roll across a mat, push as hard as they can against a wall or walk across the floor in a certain way.

Students go through the same activities for a week, and then activities might change slightly the next week. If they forget what to do, instructions are posted at each station.

To students, Minds in Motion seems fun, even easy. For some, it’s a way to get out of class. But the program is designed as more than just a simple diversion.

According to the Minds in Motion website, the program can help students with concentration, anxiety and hyperactivity. The program was also studied by the University of Louisville in Kentucky, showing positive results with gross motor skills, and teachers involved in the study said their students showed positive results with social and emotional behaviors.

One local preschool has been using Minds in Motion for years, and they believe the program helps their students focus throughout the day.

Chapel Hill Christian Preschool is a private school on the southwest side of town offering preschool and kindergarten classes. The kindergarten classes spend about 15 minutes early in their day working through Minds in Motion activities.

Carrie Allen, principal of the school, said she finds the program especially valuable in today’s society because children don’t play outside as often as they did a few decades ago.

“When they’re not playing outside as much, they’re not working on those developmental skills,” Allen said. The program, she added, seems like a good way to combat that.

When Taylor first started training students how to go through the stations, some students were reluctant to try it. Most, however, seemed excited to get out of class and do something active.

Fourth-graders Josh Garcia and Talat Zaza seemed especially eager to try the program.

“It’s pretty easy,” Garcia said. “And it would be pretty awesome to get to miss class for this.”

Zaza said he was glad they were working on productive “brain work.”

Their teacher, Abigael McCord, said she was used to incorporating some physical activities into her class every day, but nothing as structured as Minds in Motion.

“I’m excited to get this going for them so they can release that energy,” McCord said.

She has her students do a few simple activities every morning to help wake up their brains, but she said the new program is a good way to get some of their excess energy out and get their attention early in the day.

“They don’t even realize they’re doing some of these things,” she said. “Since they are exercising first, they’re quicker to give me responses rather than just sitting there. They’re up and moving. They’re stimulated and awake.”

Taylor Middle School is also now working to implement the program, making it the first middle school to ever train for Minds in Motion.

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Source: Kokomo Tribune

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com


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