Friday, August 29, 2014

We All Need To Move

The first four days of the school year are under my belt! One hundred seventy-six days to go, but who's counting? Last week I outlined my goals for the new school year, and yes, they are lofty.  They, for me, are also critical.  This week I'm talking exercise and goal number nine has and will always be a challenge for me.  It reads, "In leaving work at a decent time I will allow myself time for my favorite thing.  EXERCISE (not!). Despite my apparent dislike of exercise it is crucial not only for my health, but for my well-being.  I need to exercise everyday in order to stay sane, relatively speaking ;)" The jury is still out on whether I have a love-hate relationship with exercise, hate-love relationship with exercise, or simply a hate-hate relationship with exercise.  I will also admit, I am a Jazzercise junkie. I have been "jazzing" for twelve years.  It is fun, social, and I burn calories, lots of calories.   The bottom line is, it doesn't matter we all need to move.
Jazzercise stuff I've earned or won!

I recently read Brain Rules:12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School  by John Medina and am working on how to apply the core principles outlined in the book into my work (and life).  Brain rule number 2: Exercise boosts brain power!  Historically, we have always moved and as we moved our brains developed. It is clear that a fit body can result in a longer and better life, but my interest is in how a fit body can affect my brain and how movement can improve how my students respond in therapy.

Medina writes, based on his research, that exercise can boost mental agility, reduce the possibility of dementia, and help in the treatment of depression and anxiety (I am living proof of that one).  More conclusive studies need to be completed, however, the current information points in the direction that physical activity is crucial in helping our students be more mentally alert, better behaved, and less anxious.

I have students for only 30 minutes per session, yet I plan on integrating more movement into my therapy sessions for all the reasons indicated above, but also because movement improves the automaticity of skills.

  • So why not march or twist while practicing speech sounds?  
  • Let's use EET, but move from colored disk to colored disk while describing.  
  • In June we played vocabulary kickball. I painted the bases with chalkboard paint and labeled them to  include antonym, synonym, category, etc.  
  • Next week we are taking EET to the hopscotch area and using colored chalk circles as EEtchy.  
  • Do you work with middle schoolers?  Ever notice that glazed look in their eyes when you just know they're thinking "I'm gonna die in here," (or they might not be thinking at all)?  When I see that tell-tale sign we jog or do jumping jacks or even dance.
  • Do you work with teachers that take away recess for non completion of homework?  I will admit, in times of utter desperation, I have done the same.  Never again!  Perhaps, I will go out to recess with them and modify the homework to include activity.
  • We have a beautiful nature trail on our campus.  This year we will be walking and talking along that trail.
  • Standing, in and of itself, is more active than sitting.  This year I'm going to try doing speech therapy on our feet.
  • The trek from classroom to speech room is often lost. My mind is full of all the things I have to do and and I frequently let go of valuable speech moments, moments that incorporate movement.  I am going to capture the moments this year!
For some comic relief I've included a video of one of my favorite Jazzercise routines.  Our unstoppable instructor Kristen and some true die-hard jazzercisers were gracious enough to allow themselves to be videoed.  THANK YOU!  By the way, I am the comic relief, not them!

This is only a start, I am very interested in knowing how all of my amazingly gifted colleagues use movement in speech therapy.  Please comment and give me some much needed help.

On another note, stuff happens and it is not always good stuff.  Going back to school can bring with it difficulties; misunderstandings, struggles, stress.  How I respond, how much I let these difficulties impact me, and how I interpret comments can shatter my confidence.  I follow a wonderful devotional and today's was timely.  I thought I would share it here.


  1. Innovative ideas to keep moving in therapy! Thanks Annie!

    1. So, when you visit NH, you can go to Jazzercise with me :)