Mind & Movement: Not the PE Class You Remember

At The Biome, there’s a new twist being placed on gym class. No longer are the days of simple jumping jacks, timed miles, and pushing through as many sit-ups as you can. Today, in Mind and Movement, students explore a wider range of physical learning activities and discover how the mind is connected to physical learning. Through a variety of themed classes, from Tennis Tuesday to Yoga Thursday, learners engage in whole body learning.

Ashreale McDowell, who comes to The Biome with a rich performing arts background, leads Mind and Movement. She received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from Webster University and since then has performed and taught professionally at a number of companies and schools. Currently, she is also a performing artist at Consuming Kinetics Dance Company.

In Mind & Movement, learners are able to take a break from the traditional classroom setting. They are given the freedom to move and to express themselves in new ways. The opportunity to teach and build the Mind & Movement program at The Biome has been an exciting and creative experience for Ms. McDowell. At The Biome, she has the freedom to structure her class in a way that exposes students to a variety of moment, unlike other teaching experiences where she was required following a more regimented program. For example, every week, learners participate in fun, interactive yoga classes. Recent research has shown that yoga and mindfulness improve both physical and mental health in school-age children. Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga can also improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children (Wei, 2016). Every week learners also participate in dance classes. Dance allows the learners to practice learning choreography, memorize movements, and improve their memory.

In Mind & Movement, Ms. McDowell also actively incorporates lessons about the human body and health. Ms. McDowell shared, “As learners grow and strengthen their physical bodies, it is also important for them to understand how all their muscles work and are connected to different movements.”

Since the beginning of the year, Ms. McDowell has seen students increasingly step outside of their comfort zones and build their confidence. Often, when something is new, she will hear students say, “I can’t do this. My body can’t do that. I don’t think I’m going to be good.” Yet, in December, at the recent Winter Festival performances, she witnessed the growth of students. The same students who were reluctant at first came out of their shells and proudly performed for an audience of over 100 parents, family, and friends.

At The Biome, we believe in providing students with a holistic educational experience. Mind & Movement is just one more aspect of our educational model that helps students to build important perseverance and self-regulation skills. Rather than with just regular physical education classes, Mind & Movement helps learners to build both healthy bodies and healthy minds.