These days, schools are so focused on academics that they often cut P.E. and recess to make room for reading and math. But I recently visited a school in Deer Park where fitness is a priority--and it’s paying off with improved academics!
When Holmes Primary School (Deer Park Community Schools) students arrive in the morning, they go directly to the gym for what they call “Big House.” Figures on a huge screen lead them in 15-30 minutes of fun, easy dance moves, with some learning slipped in as well.
It’s an amazing sight! Third grade teacher Mae O’Hara is right in the middle of the crowd, dancing and encouraging the students. School counselor Jason Spelic keeps the younger kids focused and moving. Everyone has a smile on their face.
Principal Amy Byrne started “Big House” three years ago. She says that children who used to be hesitant about coming to school now get there early. No one wants to miss “Big House!”
When the dancing is done and it’s time to head to the classroom, students are energized, alert and ready to learn. Principal Byrne told me that since “Big House” started, tardiness has dropped and test scores have risen significantly. “It doesn’t take away from academics,” she said. “Big House builds positive energy that carries on throughout the day.”
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