It’s 8:30 in the morning at North Star Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten and children are arriving to school. They hang their coats, kiss their parents goodbye and head on into to our morning welcoming circle. Quiet music is playing as they gather walking on the line. Soon all of our friends are here and it is time to get moving. We start off singing and following simple directions in our songs to clap, tap, stomp, and dance. Sometimes our movements are slow, fast or in between as we follow the tempo of the music. We reach high, get down low and practice a variety of movements such as hopping, skipping, jumping, skating, tiptoeing, stretching and balancing. Using songs like Animal Action by Kids in Motion, we slither like snakes,fly like birds, gallop like horses, hop like frogs, and move like lions. Scarves, beanbags, rhythm sticks and instruments become an extension of our movements helping to develop gross and fine motor coordination while building strong bones and muscles as well as bringing our hearts joy! The 30 minute circle zooms by and children are dismissed to begin to choose different activities in the classroom.
We know regular physical activity helps children develop in a range of ways. Not only does it help their physical health, it also helps improve brain function and emotional wellbeing. When children see how fun it is to be able to dance, jump, walk, run, stretch and play they are more likely to want to continue enjoying being active throughout their life. Seeing and appreciating what their body can do, rather than how it looks, is a great way for a child to build a positive body image.
Leaving circle time all of this exercise has changed the children’s brain chemistry. While it may not seem obvious, physical activity plays an important role in developing the brain and supporting essential mental functions. Research shows that regular moderate intensity exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with learning and memory. Exercise leads to improved motor skills, better thinking and problem-solving, stronger attention skills and improved learning. Not surprisingly, these all combine to benefit school performance. In fact, even the simple act of playing outside with friends can help the brain refocus when it comes time for school work.
The number one reason we encourage parents to play everyday with their kids is it will strengthen all of your hearts.The heart muscle responds to exercise by becoming stronger and more efficient. Strengthening the heart muscle can help ward off heart disease -- the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- even in early childhood.
Dancing to your favorite tunes, creating fun ways to hop, skip, or jump around the house (maybe imagine you are trying to get through a Jungle and move like Jungle animals), whatever works for you and your family. The main thing is make shared physical activity a part of your everyday routine. We start each day at North Star Montessori with movement and exercise because exercise is a vital component of any child’s development—laying the foundations for a healthy life. We also have so much fun doing it that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. We look forward to this time each day to come together in this positive shared experience. So make time to wiggle, dance, move and have fun getting active with your family to improve heart health and well being!
Make Time to Move Each Day
By Barbara Barnes
NSM Founder & Director
Phone: (517) 787-3026 | Hours: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
North Star Montessori
Preschool & Kindergarten