Originally published Dec. 6, 2019 in the Redwood Falls Gazette.

By Rob Brandl

Cedar Mountain Schools are always looking for ways to ensure student comprehension is maximized.

Research shows students who engage in physical activity throughout the day perform better in classes and on tests. As a school system this year, we have added a variety of opportunities for our students in grades K-12 to get active throughout the day.

So far we are seeing positive results in a multitude of ways.

Cedar Mountain Elementary has created a whole body obstacle course based on A Chance to Grow’s learning readiness curriculum, S.M.A.R.T. (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training). This “S.M.A.R.T. Boost Course” focuses on developing brain stimulation with physical actions to promote enrichment of classroom tasks and learning.

Consistent participation with S.M.A.R.T. activities has been linked to the improvement of sensory and motor pathways in the body, including dendrites and neurons in the brain stem. Activities include a sequence of jumping, spinning, rolling, crawling, cross pattern walking, as well as balance and vision exercises. The actions are connected to the growth of skills, such as turning pages, holding a pencil, eye movements and hearing the differences between vowel sounds.

At Cedar Mountain Middle/High School, students have a host of opportunities to stay physically active throughout the day. Open gym is available to all students multiple times a day. Before school, the gym is open starting 40 minutes before the first classes begin. At lunchtime, students are allowed to be active in the gym the entire time after eating.

On a daily basis during open gym, you will find students engaged in full court basketball, playing catch, passing the volleyball and more. Students in grades 6-10 also are enrolled in mandatory physical education classes with many students taking elective PE courses as juniors and seniors.

For the 2019-20 school year, an additional PE teacher was added to seventh-10th grade classes as a way to improve and increase student fitness.

On a day by day rotating basis, students are either building skills related to games and sports in the gym or are participating in fitness activities in the weight room to improve strength, flexibility and endurance. Students and staff have reported a significant increase in activity and student engagement in relation to this change.

As a district, we are committed to the growth of the whole child and have found that physical activity is a significant factor. Our high-school football and volleyball teams being selected as academic all-state are great examples of what we are trying to accomplish and provide all students.

Cedar Mountain Schools is proud of what our students and staff have accomplished so far this year and we look forward to continual student growth academic, social and physical growth.

Rob Brandl serves as superintendent for the Cedar Mountain School District

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