Parents know very well how young children love movement and activity, but what many of us don’t realise is how much their physical development affects their learning in the classroom. The groundbreaking Smart Steps program offered at the Australian International School’s (AIS) new Early Learning Village aims to develop these all important body-brain connections to improve learning outcomes for children in the Early Years.
We asked Smart Steps teacher Laurine Virgilie to tell us more.…
Why is the Smart Steps program at AIS is so important?
Everything kids do – the way they move and interact with the world – has a developmental purpose that helps them learn and grow at their own unique pace. However, sometimes children enter their first classroom environment without the adequate skills to function within a structured education environment. The simplest things trip them up – having to sit still and listen, being unable to hold a pencil correctly or coping with multiple instructions at once. The unique Smart Steps program aims to improve every child’s physical diet and work on those important skills to ensure they are engaged and active learners.
What is the ‘physical’ connection to classroom success?
Movement is at the core of how the brain develops. It determines and shapes how children think, feel, behave and learn, which is why physical activity is imperative for the development of young minds. Simple classroom activities such as reading, writing and listening can all be linked to a child’s physical development. For example, a child’s ability to write can be affected by their physical ability to grip a pencil. Playing on monkey bars and doing other activities that build strength in the upper body, hands and fingers can help to address writing issues in the early stages of development. Similarly, a child who struggles with reading may need more time to develop eye fitness before tackling the highly-refined movements independent reading requires. Eye-tracking activities will help to build eye stamina and will improve reading ability.
What is the Smart Steps approach?
The Smart Steps program forms a fundamental part of the Early Years curriculum at the Australian International School. The program offers a well-balanced mix of activities designed to develop ‘automaticity’, that is, making movement tasks automatic, and something that children do not have to think about. When a child automates control of their physical self, their brain can turn to other matters, such as thinking and reasoning, creativity and invention, and strategies and tactics they will use in the classroom, on the playing field or in any other endeavor they choose to pursue. In other words, developing a smart relationship between the body and the brain makes everything else possible.
How does Smart Steps teach movement in the classroom?
The Smart steps activities are developed around six basic elements of movement – the senses, balance, intuition, power, coordination and control, all of which are underpinned by the development of language. There are a total of 50 different activities in the program and these range from tunneling to improve spatial awareness, walking on beams to improve balance and juggling bean bags to improve coordination.
These activities are taught once a week by qualified teachers in a dedicated Smart Steps movement room at the new Reggio Emilia-inspired Early Learning Village at the Australian International School. Opening in July, the Early Learning Village has been designed for children aged 18 months to six years old and provides a unique environment that truly supports each child’s learning journey.
To find out more about the Smart Steps program offered at the new Early Learning Village, and opportunities to visit during Open Day on Thursday, 3 August, 2017 contact the friendly Admissions team at AIS on +65 6517 0247 or email email@example.com
Brought to you by
Australian International School
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