New year, new you, right? Seems like a common theme for people to want a fresh start in the new year. Interestingly, I read that less than 10% of Americans make resolutions that they actually keep (van Bavel & Packer, 2022). Almost a quarter drop theirs by the end of January. I’m guilty. I’ve tried many, including reading the Bible every day for a year, drinking eight glasses of water every day, and not cussing (yes, I admit).
Researchers have determined that norms outweigh personal plans. For example, your new year’s resolution is no dessert after 8pm. If you’re at a restaurant eating with friends, and your friend decides to order an after dinner warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top. You resist the urge and order a black decaf coffee instead. When she says she’s too full and asks if you want any, this forces you to challenge your self-control. You’re more likely to eat the dessert because it’s normal to eat while socializing. Thus, instead of trying to accomplish new resolutions alone, considering doing it with a group and as part of the norm.
One resolution that will benefit not only you, but your students is to incorporate one movement break in your classroom each day. There are clear benefits to giving students time to be active…movement for their health, generates blood flow to the brain, allows for social interaction, etc. One way to ensure this resolution is achieved is to literally add “movement break” into daily plans. Perhaps this is at the halfway point during a long math or reading session. Another idea is to assign the movement break of the day to a student every day (i.e., an assigned role, similar to line leader, attendance clerk, office helper).
You may want students to select the activity, or you can have pre-made activities that you select from a box or library. There are a ton of resources available that can make this part easy for you and your students. If you make one daily movement break the norm in your class, your students will remind you if (and when!) you forget to include it.
I challenge you to not only incorporate one movement break per day for your students, but to participate in the break with them. Just stop what you’re doing. Put away the administrative “stuff” you’re working on. Forget about grading those papers for a few quick minutes. Engage in the activity with your students. See the joy on their faces. Laugh along with them. Feel the adrenaline from the movement. And hopefully you’ll see some positive results in behavior, attitude, focus and learning from your entire class…and some physical and mental health benefits for yourself.
van Bavel, J., & Packer, D. (2022). Sick of failing at your new year’s resolutions? There is a better way. Retrieved December 16, 2023, from https://time.com/6243642/how-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-2/
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.