Tuxedo Park School takes pride in developing the whole child, paying attention not just to academic success, but the components necessary to achieve that success with a healthy body and mindset. Various studies have proven different positive effects on brain function when children engage in high-volume exercise. Findings include improved long-term retention and improved executive functioning, which impacts student learning and success. Physical activity has been proven to result in better attention, increased on-task behaviors and improved academic performance.
In an effort to ensure we design a well-rounded curriculum, we purposefully schedule physical activity throughout each student's school day. Preschool through fifth-grade students partake in physical education class 3-4 times a week. During these sessions they learn how their muscles function by way of isolating exercises, then how multiple muscles work together to form big movements such as jumping, running and pushups. Our teachers discuss health and the importance of a balanced lifestyle. They learn to cooperate with one another through a variety of games and are introduced to different sports in order to support students in discovering their interests. They spend this time developing self-control, self-awareness, and self-confidence.
All students attend recess for 30 minutes each day. During this time, we give students the freedom to creatively engage in physical activity and exploration with their peers through unstructured play, which researcher Sergio Pellis claims "plays a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems."
Starting in sixth grade, and through ninth, students are required to participate in team athletics. Offerings include a wide variety of sports, such as, but not limited to: tennis, soccer, volleyball, field hockey, yoga, basketball, squash, and lacrosse. Students not only get an hour of intense physical activity, but our coaches also embed the importance of sportsmanship, team building, compromise, support and working towards a common goal.
More than just physical activity, this year we are redesigning our wellness program. While we will maintain aspects of the traditional health course that has been in place for decades, it is important to adjust to changing times and our new generation of youth. Studies are showing children are feeling more stress and anxiety, and don't have the strategies to cope with those emotions. Our wellness program will teach students how to self-assess their emotional state and they will learn skills such as goal-setting, organization, prioritization and meditation, to manage those sentiments. The curriculum will also coach students on how to engage in healthy relationships, building communication habits that sustain those relationships.
Academic rigor and achievement are important, but it is not sustainable without students of strong mind and body. Current research conveys the importance of physical and emotional wellbeing on brain development, self-control, and cognitive function. It is our job to provide an environment and wholistic education that incorporates all imperative qualities to develop confident and successful citizens.