Posted in GAP News, Mississippi Art News | Let the Kids Play: They’ll Do Better in School

Sorry about missing our post yesterday – we were having some technical difficulties with WordPress and couldn’t get our scheduled post to publish. For today’s post, we are excited to share an article from Time about a recent study linking a student’s physical activity to higher performance in the classroom. As we work with our local classrooms to share ways of adding dance and movement into their core curriculum teaching through arts integration, we think this study further supports our calls to get students out of their seats and moving. Read more after the jump!

Let the Kids Play: They’ll Do Better in School

Think that physical activity is just good for the body? Turns out exercise can help youngsters do better in school too

By Alice Park | @aliceparkny | January 3, 2012 | +

First Lady Michelle Obama may be on to something with her unflagging “Let’s Move” admonitions — the latest research shows that physical activity may help children do better in school.

Amika Singh, a senior researcher at VU University in the Netherlands, reports in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine that physical activity is associated with better academic performance, as measured by higher GPAs and better scores on standardized tests. She and her colleagues reviewed 14 studies, some of which simply recorded the amount of physical activity that children, parents or teachers reported that youngsters got over three days to seven days prior to the study, and some of which randomly assigned students to varying amounts of exercise a day. Taken together, the studies showed that the more physical activity the children had, the higher their scores in school, particularly in the basic subjects of math, English and reading.

The data support earlier research that linked exercise with more productivity and fewer sick days for adults, and could fuel the ongoing debate over whether physical education classes should be cut from school programs due to budget constraints. According to the Centers for Disease Control, students should have about one hour of physical activity every day to remain healthy; only 18% of high school students met this requirement in the week prior to a 2009 survey and 23% had not exercised at all during that period. The argument for reducing the amount of school time devoted to physical education is based on the fact that standardized test scores for US children have been dropping in recent years, and some administrators believe gym time can be better used to boost academic performance.

But Singh and her team show that rather than impairing school performance, physical activity may actually improve grades, which could help to retain gym programs throughout the nation. The studies considered physical activity as any exercise children received from either school-based physical education classes or organized sports both inside and outside of school. Being more active, says Singh, may improve blood flow to the brain, which provides more oxygen to cells involved in learning and attention. Exercise also boosts levels of certain hormones that can improve mood and fight stress, both of which can also provide a better learning environment for children.

Singh says that the benefits of physical activity may extend beyond academic performance, however. “Children learn by participating in sports, learning rules, and learning to act appropriately in a social environment,” she says. “And that translates into the classroom, where children who are physically active may adhere better to classroom rules and get along better with teachers and classmates. So academic performance may just be the short term benefit of exercise; there are a whole range of social and behavioral benefits that go beyond grades as well.”

One limitation of the analysis, however, is the fact that Singh deemed only two of the 14 studies as being high quality, meaning that the studies were set up in such as way that the both physical activity levels and academic performance were measured in a reliably objective way. Some of the studies depended on either the students or parents and teachers recalling how much exercise the children got over a certain period, and these surveys are always subject to bias.

Still, the findings hint that getting active may have long term benefits not just for the body, but for the brain as well. And the physical activity doesn’t have to occur in a single bout of hour-long exercise. Shorter periods of activity that break up the hours-long school day may be just as effective as a single session, and may make it easier to work in physical education into school curricula.

via Let the Kids Play: They’ll Do Better in School | Healthland |



The mission of the Greenville Arts Council is to promote the rich cultural heritage of the region and stimulate and encourage cultural activities, arts appreciation, arts education, and the creative works of artists. Some of the responsibilities that help define the Greenville Arts Council as the primary promoter of the arts in our area include offering art classes to children and adults, organizing community events, presenting an ongoing series of free exhibits featuring visual artists from the area and the state, and coordinating educational programs which teach arts-integration in local schools. The Greenville Arts Partnership between the Greenville Arts Council, the Greenville Public School District and our three community arts partners, Delta Center Stage, Delta Symphony Association and the Delta Children’s Museum, is focused on full arts integration in the GPSD elementary schools. Plentiful research documents the value of the teaching in and through the arts to help students understand core academic concepts on a deep level. The partnership was the first in the state of Mississippi accepted into the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program in 2003, joining over 100 other partnerships between school districts and arts organizations across the country. The partnership provides professional development for teachers, arts experiences for students and resource and referral on arts integration issues. Professional development has been provided in two ways, through workshops with Teaching Artists from the Kennedy Touring Roster and grade-level and/or discipline-specific professional development with our local staff. We present a series of model demonstration lessons to teachers in grades K to 6, demonstrating connections between Partnership free arts programming and required state frameworks. The partner arts groups present a series of live performances allowing each elementary child in the GPSD to attend at least once each year. The groups work with the Arts Council staff to develop accompanying curriculum-based educational material for distribution to teachers prior to each performance. Over the years, we have succeeded in providing basic arts integration training district-wide as well as in-depth professional development to allow groups of teachers to increase their level of mastery.