Students in Lower Elementary have a lesson in their MindUP curriculum every Wednesday in place of Specials (Art, Music, and PE). The MindUP curriculum teaches the latest scientific information about the brain to offer strategies for helping students to focus their attention, improve their executive function skills, build resilience, and develop optimism and a positive mindset.
Last Wednesday, these students practiced their balance with two exercises. For the first exercise, all students stood apart from each other in their outdoor classroom and tried to balance on one leg for 30 seconds; then, they tried it a second time, this time concentrating on a focal point somewhere within their range of vision. It was amazing to see the dramatic difference between these two attempts. With a focal point to concentrate on while balancing, students wobbled much less. For the second exercise, students practiced walking heel-to-toe on a straight line of tape on the ground, with a pyramid beanbag balanced on their heads (students just finished sewing these beanbags with Ayelet for their Practical Life curriculum).
After both exercises, we discussed a few questions, such as: how did it feel to balance on one leg? (“My other leg hurt!” was a common response). What did you choose for your focal point? (Fence posts, stumps, trees, and other people were mentioned often.) How did the beanbag change your balance? (“I couldn’t look down!”) We discussed how we can focus and think clearly when our bodies and brains work together, and how our brain’s ability to focus improves when we pay attention to the signals our bodies send us.