Why Mindful Exercises are Busting the 4th Grade Common Core Math Slump
When researching Common Core Math topics for fourth-graders, I stumbled onto a rather fascinating study that was published in 2015 in Time Magazine. The headline caught my eye, and as I read further, I became more intrigued. I found myself recognizing some of the activities that were mentioned in the article and others surrounding this topic with what I sometimes do with my own children and when I work with my students. The headline that grabbed my attention was “Mindful Exercises Improve Math Scores.” What? What are these exercises and how are they used for math? The study basically describes how a group of fourth and fifth-grade students in British Columbia were placed into two groups for the school year. The first utilized the “mindfulness method” in the classroom and the other group was in the “social responsibility” classroom, which is standard in Canada and the United States. The students were studied and analyzed for four months using these methods, and after a short time, the results were incredible. Compared to the students in the social responsibility program, the students in the mindfulness program had 15 percent better math scores, performed 24 percent higher in social behaviors, improved their cognitive abilities, had significantly less aggressive behavior, and many other improvements.
So what is mindfulness and can we as parents modify some of the classroom programs at home to help our students succeed at Common Core Math? First, we must remember organizing the brain for math skills involves more than just quizzing our children on their times tables. To effectively prep the brain and our child’s memory for retaining numbers and visualizing math facts in our heads, children need purposeful movement exercises.
What is Mindful Exercise?
In the Time Magazine article, it discusses how some of the students in the classroom would participate in a program that focused on sensory enhancing activities, similar to what you see here. The kids participated in mindful sensory exercises that combined eating and smelling as well as cognitive exercises where students could see and discuss issues from another’s point of view. The program also involves three-minute meditation sessions, three times a day, in addition to learning gratitude and doing kind things for each other. Mindful movement and body awareness exercises were used as well. I can’t tell you how excited I was to review all of these strategies that were used in this study because here at Integrated Learning Strategies, many of the same strategies are being implemented with our wonderful students as you see here.
What Mindful Activities have to do with Common Core Math?
So what do we do with all this information about mindfulness exercises and this really cool study for math concepts? The best place for parents to start is to implement some of these activities with their fourth-grader regularly. Any activities that help with Common Core Math and your child’s understanding of numbers is very important. The great thing about mindful exercises is you can quiz your child with math concepts and math games while they move, which we do with our students on a daily basis.
Now, I wanted to try out some of the activities described in the study to help out my fourth grader and his Common Core Math learning to see if it made a difference. We decided on three different approaches to test this out.
I told my son that he probably wouldn’t have three minutes of free time during class where he could just meditate so we started out small and we are continuing to practice at home. We start in our living room where it is free of distractions and sit for two to three minutes on the floor and close our eyes. The days when we meditate, he has been much more open to trying new ideas with his math homework. His mind seems clearer, and let’s be honest, I am more patient.
We try and remind each other when we are home to be kind to family members. However, I wanted this focus to be at school where the majority of learning takes place. I suggested to my son that he find someone in his class that was maybe hard to get along with and to do something nice for that person. He was more than willing to try it out with a classmate and picked a student immediately to work with all week. I noticed several positive outcomes with his efforts. Not only did he start playing with this student at recess on occasion, but he said he felt that this student started being less disruptive in class. This made my son feel a sense of accomplishment and he was beaming. Hopefully, another result is that it helps to focus his mathematical brain and he will continue to increase his math scores.
Body Awareness Exercises
Body awareness exercises are great brain-building activities for all children and you can start out with simple movements. With my son, we continue our exercises that are taught at Integrated Learning Strategies on a daily basis. My son does a few of these every morning before he goes to school to get his brain prepped and ready for learning. Here are a few of the exercises he practices every day to help him cross the midline for improved learning.
Try these mindful exercises with your child and see what happens. I am constantly looking for ways and ideas to help out my kids with their math learning. Let us know what your experiences are and how it goes!
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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