Park Public School introduced a stationary bike to its Grade 2-3 class this year. Teachers have found that students, after riding the bike for a several minutes to release extra energy, can re-focus their attention on their studies when they return to their desks.
PARK PUBLIC SCHOOL is invigorating learning in one of its classrooms through the use of a popular stationary bike. The machine is providing Grade 2-3 students with physical outlet opportunities during class to help them refocus their attention on important teacher instruction when they return to their desks.
Since February, the Halton Hills school has been incorporating a stationary bike in teacher Jennifer Wright’s classroom. The bike is quiet and small enough to be moved around the class if needed. When they feel tense or fidgety, students ask permission to ride the bike for several minutes. When they are finished riding and return to their seat, educators have found they are more focussed on learning and stay on task longer.
“In the classroom setting, students have different needs at different times,” said Wright. “Some students need to have a physical outlet throughout the day to function optimally. Sometimes they simply need more than the physical activity offered through nutrition breaks, gym and daily physical activity programming.”
The main goal of the project is to allow children to have safe, effective exercise breaks in the classroom, said Toni Marlow, Principal at Park Public School.
“This will ensure students are supervised, do not miss key lessons, and are better able to focus on task demands,” she explained. “Building self-awareness so students recognize when an exercise break is needed is also a key goal of our project.”
Wright and Marlow learned about the bike idea after a parent read about a Prince Edward Island school was doing something similar. After enquiring more about it, the school supported the idea, and thanks to a $900 grant from community bank sponsor Tandia, a bike was purchased. Staff felt confident it would be beneficial in the classroom.
Wright explained to students how the bike is to be used. Students ride the bike for about five minutes, with the help of a timer. Wright noted some students prefer to ride longer and others shorter periods of time.
Marlow fully supports the stationary bike in school and how it provides vital exercise breaks for students without disrupting class learning.
“The project was an innovative response to a need we face in many of our classrooms,” she said.
Students love the bike.
Amyra, in Grade 3, said the bike is a “great way to get your energy out if you can’t concentrate.” She noted she uses it a couple of times a week.
Said Grade 2 student Declan: “I concentrate a bit better. I don’t talk and I’m straight on task.”
Wright said her class appreciates the positive effects it has had including improving self-regulation.
“Students need movement breaks throughout the day and this allows for that in the actual classroom. Sitting at a desk for most of the day can be very difficult for some students, especially for those who are fidgety and have lots of energy to release.”
Another key aspect of the classroom bike is how it helps fulfill other curriculum goals, Wright explained. The presence of the bike has helped students learn about other things including the importance of exercise. The Health and Physical Education curriculum outlines in the Active Living section overall expectations that directly match this project, she said.
For example, it states students should participate actively and regularly in a wide variety of physical activities and demonstrate an understanding of the value of regular physical activity in their daily lives. Students are gaining an understanding how the bike can allow them greater concentration and focus in their daily classroom, Wright said.
“They are understanding factors that can contribute to their personal enjoyment of being active and living a healthy life,” she said. “They’re recognizing when they are feeling fidgety and energetic and know they can choose to ride the stationary bike to feel better. As the classroom teacher, I notice students’ anxiety and stress decrease after going on the bike and returning to their classroom work.���
The school will be monitoring the progress of the project over the next few months and if it proves successful, the school may purchase a second bike in the fall to be shared by all classrooms, Marlow stated.