Fidgety and frustrated: How hopping in the hallways is helping in the classroom
Students at one P.E.I. school can try different exercises to help them settle down
At one time, if a student acted up in class, he or she might be sent out into the hallway to settle down.
But at Montague Consolidated in Montague, P.E.I., being sent out of class is not that bad, especially when students can jump, twist and hop their cares away by following hopscotch-like patterns along the hallways.
'You're perfectly fine again'
"You get so focused on this, that you don't remember what you were mad about," said nine-year-old Lucas McCarville.
"By the time you're finished, you're perfectly fine again."
Each corridor on the school's bottom floor has a wall poster that describes a specific move the kids in the hall must follow.
It's an idea the school's behavior resource teacher Robyn Burgess borrowed from a video she saw on social media about kids working out on a movement circuit.
'I really, really want to do this'
"Immediately my brain kind of shot out to all of the kids that I could definitely use it for in our school." The next day, Burgess pitched the idea to school administration.
"I said, 'I really, really want to do this.' They're used to my crazy ideas so they said 'Okay, let's see what we can do.'"
The program has been a success since it began last fall. Burgess pointed to Lucas as an example of a student who has benefited.
"Not being able to organize his sentences during his writing time is something that frustrates him," Burgess said.
"He likes to have everything just so, so when it doesn't go a certain way or when he gets a little bit mixed up in his mind, he gets a little frustrated," Burgess said.
'Even when you're not mad, it's good exercise'
"The movement break helps him forget about that a little bit."
Lucas agrees wholeheartedly. "That's the whole point of it. Also, even when you're not mad, it's good exercise, like you're jumping around like this. It is really fun."
Burgess can see the difference in Lucas when he returns to class. "He's happy, he's smiling. He's breathing heavily so I know it's working and he's ready to write again."
While working out is beneficial at any time of the year, getting enough exercise can be a challenge in winter.
"It's really icy out so it's dangerous for the kids sometimes to be outside," said Colleen MacPherson, the occupational therapist for the Montague family of schools.
"For their motor co-ordination, their motor skill, building strength as well," MacPherson said.
"This is a great way to work on those motor co-ordination skills and strength and just to kind of burn off some of that extra energy that we have that maybe they haven't had a chance to at recess."
'Sent to the hall for acting up'
Some students have their favourite routine. "I like the one when you — it's like hopscotch," said 11-year-old Keyshia Doherty.
While Lucas mostly uses the movement circuit to help get rid of frustrations, Keyshia is sometimes sent to the hall for acting up.
"I come use the movement break when I have giggles," she said.
"I'm excited and also angry at the same time because I got sent out of class but I'm more excited than angry," Keyshia said about how she feels being sent to the hall.
Usually, the end result for Keyshia is positive. "When I'm done, I feel relaxed, like I'm calmed down enough to go back to class and do my work."
The movement circuit worked so well that Burgess had to scrap part of it shortly after it started — for example at recess break when kids poured out into the corridors.
"They were running into each other during transition times such as the end of the day, the morning and recess times," Burgess said.
'Oh oh, I feel frustrated'
For Robyn Burgess, one of the most positive indications that the program is working is that kids themselves, like Lucas, now recognize when it's time to take a break.
"He's not only going to the movement break when suggested but learning to read his body and say, 'Oh oh, I feel frustrated. I'm going to go take a movement break,'" she said.
"He's able to come back and he's smiling and happy and he's refocused and he's ready to do his work."
Lucas agrees. "It's surprisingly fun just to jump around like this, even when you're going to get a drink of water from the water fountain. I like it."
The movement circuit has been so successful with the kindergarten to Grade 2 students, that it's been added to other areas of the school.