Just how important was the focus of a parent information night at Charleston Elementary School Tuesday.
The event was part of the school’s action-based learning initiative that began last year. Although an area was dedicated to such techniques last year, this year the school is revamping the space with funds from a state focus grant.
Consultant Jean Blaydes with the Action Based Learning company was brought in to help with professional development for teachers and to provide an information night for parents.
“We have been researching different programs to decide which one we will use in the action lab,” Charleston Principal Jodie Grannen said.
Grannen said she wanted Blaydes to visit to better highlight the importance of movement to learning.
“A lot of the research I have read says IQ and brain matter can change with movement,” Grannen said.
Parents were able to tour the lab as a finished product, and see student demonstrations. Each area in the lab provides a different way for students to move while reinforcing knowledge, such as math facts or spelling.
Blaydes also showed the parents a few tricks of her own. One was a modified version of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors,” which could be used to practice addition and multiplication. Players say, “I love math,” then show a number on their fingers; whoever completes adding or multiplying the numbers first wins.
Grannen said she hoped parents could use the information while helping their children with homework.
“I thought it was really neat, very applicable,” parent Michelle Litts said.
She said she has tried to keep her daughter active. After the presentation Litts said she plans to put a greater emphasis on healthy food.
Parent Carolyn Burgess said she found the math games helpful and plans to try to use some of them while encouraging her child to exercise.
Parent Scott McElrath said he hopes to focus on “a lot less caffeine, more exercise and going to bed a little earlier.”
Movement helps students learn better.
“Education research says about 85 percent of school-age students are predominantly kinesthetic learners. Jean Blaydes has been active in our county through Coordinated School Health and we are excited about her equipping teachers to do action-based learning in their classrooms,” Grannen said.
Blaydes said people learn 10 percent better when they are standing than when they are sitting down. According to Blaydes, people learn better when they are standing up because they have to pay more attention to be aware of their surroundings.
In addition to exercise, Blaydes emphasized nutrition, water and sleep for a healthy brain.
“The brain that you have has to have fuel,” Blaydes said.
Fuels for the brain are oxygen and glucose.
A person’s brain is about the size of their fists placed side by side, she said.
“When you get your heart rate up and you breath real fast that gets oxygen to your blood,” Blaydes said.
Oxygen comes from the oxygen in a person’s blood. Glucose comes from food. Blaydes said the best food for the brain is omega-3 fatty acid.
“That’s things like fish ... almonds, walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil,” Blaydes said.
Other foods that give nutrition to the brain are vegetables, blueberries, peanut butter (in moderation), yogurt, chicken and milk.
The key is a balanced diet, Blaydes said.
Water is important to the brain because it conducts the electricity the brain uses to send messages to the rest of the body.
Other substances can harm the brain’s ability to process nutrients
“If caffeine were introduced into our society today, as a new nutrient [and] we had never seen it before, it would be by prescription only,” Blaydes said. “Especially for kids under the age of 12. Caffeine is a ... highly addictive drug.”
Blaydes said if children have too much caffeine it “teaches the brain to be addictive.” She asserted this can create other addictive behaviors in the future.
Another common substance can also be harmful to the brain.
“High fructose corn syrup has been shown in many studies to keep the brain from using its fuel,” Blaydes said.
Blaydes said it affects how the brain processes glucose.
“One out of three kindergartens will have Type 2 diabetes by the time they graduate from the school,” Blaydes said.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions with 4-year-olds being categorized as obese. Blaydes encouraged parents to exercise with their children. Sixty minutes of physical activity a day is important to a student’s brain health.
Grannen said the school received a total of $193,000 for the action-based learning lab, intervention teachers for reading and math, iPads and consultants. Blaydes also completed a training session with Charleston Elementary School teachers to discuss ways they can use the lab and incorporate movement into the classroom.
Current equipment includes mats, Hula Hoops, scooter boards, mini trampolines, balance boards and exercise balls. Grannen said the school is still developing the area.
The school also partnered with Bradley County Coordinated School Health to acquire foam flooring for the room because it could not be covered by the grant.