Originally published March 17, 2019 in the Hillsdale Daily News.
By Steve Head
The superintendents of Lenawee County schools have made social-emotional learning the focus of our monthly articles for this school year.
This month, the focus is on the role of physical activity on social-emotional learning. Physical education classes and play provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to develop the key skills necessary for self-confidence and self-esteem, along with a healthy lifestyle.
When we exercise, our brains release “feel-good” chemicals that help to improve our moods. These chemicals also help in feeling more focused and sharp, and aid in releasing any kind of stress we may be feeling at the time. This is why physical activity, whether it be a brain break in the classroom, recess time or gym class, is critical to support students’ social and emotional growth.
Having an active lifestyle can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. It also increases our energy and improves our sleep. Studies have found that being physically active can increase happiness, build self-confidence and even improve memory. As our emotional health improves, our social relationships tend to improve as well.
Physical education classes provide numerous opportunities for our students to engage in physical activity in a supportive environment. Students learn to work together to achieve goals in team events and strive to develop the necessary social skills needed to support a sense of worth and well-being. In individual events, our students work to achieve the goals they set for themselves with support from their teacher and friends.
We continue to promote healthy lifestyle choices in health and physical education classes across the county. Our districts also encourage our students to participate in athletics, as it not only promotes physical activity but also self-confidence and teamwork. In our elementary schools, recess time is an important part of the day that our students need to be active and interact with others.
Research continues to support an increase in academic achievement with physical activity. The more active our students are, the more likely they will find success academically. This is why we continue to find teachers using creative ways to get their students moving around their classrooms. Movement equals positive results!
We encourage all of our families to support an active lifestyle with our students. Our schools will continue to find interesting and creative ways to get our students up and moving. The benefits, as shared, are impressive, so let’s get moving!
Steve Head is superintendent of Onsted Community Schools