• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Getting ‘Minds-In-Motion’ at St. Leo

Instead of remaining seated at their desks in class, students at St. Leo School are also getting up throughout their school day to participate in physical activities, which are designed to stimulate learning and improve concentration. “Minds-In-Motion” exercises help improve a student’s visual and auditory processing as well as their motor skills, said St. Leo Principal Helena DiBiasie.

By spending five to 10 minutes a day doing Minds-In-Motion exercises, she said students are better able to concentrate in class.

“Some of my kids who play guitar are able to focus and read the (musical) notes a lot better at a younger age than I was seeing last year because of their ability to focus on something small,” said music teacher Rosie Fedorchuk.

Her preschool students are also demonstrating improved coordination by using both hands to make music on a xylophone. “All of the things that they’re doing with their bodies – it’s helping them to develop all of those skills,” she added.

When the school year began, preschool teacher Kara Jetton said some students needed help getting onto balance boards. “Now,” she said, “they’re able to not only get on the boards independently, but they can balance side-to-side and front-to-back.”

Balance board exercises also improve spatial awareness so her students have better control of their bodies and are not bumping into their peers, said Jetton. By starting their day with a Minds-In-Motion activity, her preschoolers are also able to get the “wiggles” out.

St. Leo teachers learned about the benefits of Minds-In-Motion activities during an in-service this past summer. They also received training on how to incorporate several different physical activities and exercises into the school day.

“We’re definitely going to (use Minds-In-Motion) through the whole year, but people have already seen differences,” said DiBiasie.

Second-grade teacher Judy Helton said her students are becoming much more aware of how Minds-In-Motion has helped them with their focus. And she has watched them be able to read for 30 minutes in complete silence – something they were not able to do as first-graders.

An eye-convergence exercise – accomplished in the hallway outside a kindergarten classroom – “helps (students) with reading and it helps them with activities like looking down at your paper and looking up at the board,” explained DiBiasie. Specifically, she said that exercise teaches a student how to focus on one of several beads on a string attached to a wall, which has transferred into classroom successes. DiBiasie said new Minds-In-Motion exercises and activities will be added during the school year as students need to be challenged in other ways.

In her research, Minds-In-Motion founder Candice Meyer learned that most students who struggle in school exhibited poor balance, lacked a sense of rhythm or timing, and also had poor eye-focusing ability or trouble with visual tracking.

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