Active means literally, just that, active. Moving your body. It doesn’t have to mean professional sports, intense training sessions, or daily workouts. It can mean running around, jumping, climbing, rolling, dancing, playing, stretching, balancing, walking, and the list goes on. It can be enjoyed with others, or blissfully enjoyed alone. We all know staying active is a key component to keeping our bodies healthy. But how about our minds – the way we learn, the way we remember things, the way we handle emotions?
As adults, we tend to put activity into sports or workouts. However, kids seem to turn anything into active play. In the mind of an eight year old, for example, there’s a possibility for anything, literally anything – a toy, a stick, a plastic bottle cap – to become the centre of fun, free active play. Somewhere along the way, us adults forgot that there can be pure joy in activity - the adrenaline rush and thrilling exhaustion that comes from actively playing something that you’re fully engaged in. Not thinking about what to make for supper, or to check your emails, but actually focused on having fun while moving your body. Perhaps it’s the rush of juggling work and life, the responsibility of managing a family and a home, whatever it is, we’ve forgotten what it means to just enjoy being active, let it be a natural part of our lives. To do something good for our bodies, good for our minds, and good for our souls.
For children, growing up is tough when you’re expected to learn everything – how to read, write, compute, express, listen, create – while sitting! It’s goes against the very natural urge to turn something into free active play. To get your hands dirty, to test the limits, to satisfy your curiosity, or to practice life skills you see your parents doing every day. Imagine the potential if children were encouraged to get up out of their seats to learn? Imagine our own potential if you could spend time everyday just walking, running, climbing, stretching, etc.? Perhaps, even, in the fresh outdoors?
4 Surprising Perks of Active Free Play
The more engaging the activity, the less you can think about the stresses in your life. Active free play, like running, climbing, etc. takes a mental capacity that helps you to clear your mind and engage in something tangible and achievable. Also, for many of us, having control over how competitive you make your activity can reduce the stress level. Competing against yourself and your own goals can be a greater motivation to keep up with it everyday, and it can reduce the chances of comparing yourself to others, which for many children, is hugely beneficial.
Find yourself spending time together in front a television screen? How engaging is that? Finding time to spend some active free play together builds character traits, positive learning experiences, and connections between family and friends. A simple game of hide and seek, capture the flag, or tag in the park. A walk to the playground, a swim at the pool, or an afternoon at the beach. It provides interactive, face-to-face time where children learn more about the people in their life, who they are, and the world we live in. The more time we spend staring at screens, the less we know how to communicate with each other, empathize with others, know about ourselves and our families, and take delight in a sunny day or a shared laugh. Get together, get moving. It’s about time, wouldn’t you think?
Increased Productivity & Creativity
A clear mind gives you space to start fresh, look at things from a different perspective, or sharpen your critical eye. It gives you more room to remember things, play out ideas, and build a concrete understanding. Taking time to engage in something fun, exhilarating, and active can be just the mental break you need to sort through ideas in your head, make sense of things, and let solutions take fold for problems at work, school, family, etc.. Honestly, free active play, as any kid will show you after recess, lunch, or gym class, can be just as supportive and conducive for a learning child as could be for a working adult. Imagine your potential!
A Happy Healthy Boost
Get that adrenaline flowing, endorphins releasing and you’re on your way to a happier, healthier you. Not only will regular activity that is free of stress and full of fun get your heart rate going, but you’ll feel better, too. Your body will be stronger, less stressed, and more able to relax, let go, and simply enjoy experiences life has to offer you. Your food will digest more regularly, your body will fight off infections faster, you’ll sleep more soundly, and you’ll gain a strong appreciation for life, learning, and the world we live in. Sounds wonderful, eh?
So, this spring, don’t be too hard on yourself about hitting the gym or signing your child up for every sports team – being active can be so much more than that, and can be friendlier on the wallet, too! Make an effort to find time to make physical activity something you enjoy, but also something that benefits your life. Make it meaningful!
I’m off to walk to dogs and the little one!
It’s Springtime. Birds are chirping. Crocuses are blooming. Flurries are in the air. Oh wait, what? Flurries?! Oh right, we live in Nova Scotia.
Springtime can mean fresh, new beginnings. A clean slate. A change. A new start. It means looking forward to warmer weather and summertime soon ahead. The school year is starting to see the end, snow pants are being left at home, and fun lunch ideas are running out. Sound familiar? Suddenly, you are flooded with Facebook ads, videos, and flyers promoting independent schools who are ‘enrolling now for September’. You think, September!? I’m just beginning to see the end of one school year! I can’t think of the next one, already!
If you’re seeing it on your newsfeed, you may already have shown an interest, considering an alternative school for your child. You’ve browsed the websites, narrowed down your search perhaps; you may have even come in for a tour. The fall just seems eons away. Lots of time to decide. Besides, you want to wait until classes start to take shape, or at least wait until the current school year ends. Why enrol so early?
Well, the automatic assumption might be money. The school would love to collect deposits as soon as possible to purchase supplies needed for the following year. Makes sense. Or perhaps it’s enrollment, they need to enrol a certain amount to make ends before the end of the school year lull. Also, sounds legitimate. Or perhaps it’s all just a marketing ploy to get as many students as possible by opening enrollment up as early as possible. I mean, after all, private schools are also businesses. A scary thought that education and business could overlap like that, but it could be so, I suppose.
However, one reason, or the main reason from our perspective, honestly has nothing to do with finances, enrollment targets, or marketing ploys. The reason is actually quite simple, and more in touch with actual education than you might think.
Schools like our own, who’s mission is to focus on the development of each of their students, to remain small, and truly engage its’ students in learning, will thrive on the fact that they get to know their students well. They know their families, they know the students’ strengths, abilities, interests. The teachers can truly teach because they’ve had time to build lasting relationships with each family. They’ve honestly built and designed a learning environment that is catered to the learning styles of their students. Thus, the earlier a student is enrolled, the longer time there is to get to know one another, which in turns creates the best learning environment for the child. See? In tune with education. Right where schools should be, we think.
So, if you’ve been considering looking into an alternative school for your child but you’ve been putting it off, take this as just food for thought. Any school that truly dedicates itself to having small class sizes will hopefully stay true to that and actually stop enrolling once they’ve hit their cap. It’s not about money. It’s about education. Good education. Small multi-grade class schools, like our own, will actually stop enrolling altogether, each year, once a school cap is reached because it’s not only important to stay true to small class sizes, but for us, to maintain a low student-teacher ratio within the whole school itself. Something to keep in mind.
Next time you see a flyer or ad about enrolling early, stop to consider. If I did apply now, how would that benefit my child’s education for the future? If I waited, how well prepared will the teachers be to work with my child and family, or even, will there be a spot left? Just something to mull over as you watch flurries blowing around outside on this Spring eve. Happy Spring everyone!
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Each post is written by a supportive member of Via Vita Academy, be it a teacher, parent, student, community member, who is invested in the topic of education. Take a read and comment below!