Carrie Scheiner is not ashamed of being a bit of a math nerd.
But don’t let her degree in Math education from Rutgers University fool you – she is also a big fan of physical fitness, and her passion for both has led to her to think of exercise for kids in a completely new way.
“As adults, we don’t think about it, but much of our exercise regimens revolve around counting,” said Scheiner, creator of Exploracise, an exercise DVD for kids and parents (www.exploracise.com). “So I began thinking about how much more fun, and healthy, math could be for kids if we combined it with exercise. That was the genesis of my combination of the two disciplines.”
Scheiner believes her approach actually addresses two of the most pressing problems in the United States today.
“Research shows that exercise improves learning and multi-sensory learning techniques improve the recognition and recall of information,” Scheiner added. “One-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese and 61 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in math. That being said, it just makes sense that we start approaching these problems head-on, and we can create an economy of scale in time and resources by doing it at the same time.”
Scheiner believes that parents should encourage kids to get off the couch and exercise, too, which is why she has also devised a list of tips for parents who want to see their kids exercise as they learn. They include:
Count Along – It’s not just about counting to ten when you touch your toes. There is so much more you can do when your kids are having fun. It can be as simple as having them do the same thing you do – sets of 10 repetitions of any exercise – and then have them add up all those 10s when they are done. It will help them get comfortable tabulating simple equations in their heads.
Shapes Can Be Healthy – When I was a kid in gym class, they made us do arm circles, but there are so many other shapes that can be explored. Triangles, rectangles and even more complex geometric shapes can be combined with exercise in a variety of ways. Be creative and don’t be content with your kids using their arms like windmills. Make it fun for them and it will help to create healthy exercise habits that will last a lifetime.
Scavenger Hunts – Hide and Seek is a time-honored game, and with a little twist, you can use it to make math and healthy eating fun. Hide some healthy foods around the house, and set your kids to the task of finding them, but write down the calories and fat for each healthy food. When they find them, have them match up the foods with the numbers.
“It’s all about getting kids to put down the video game controllers and to get off the couch,” she said. “We owe it to our kids to start them off in life with healthy habits that we never learned as kids. As adults, we had to teach ourselves to work out and eat healthy. It wasn’t something that most of us learned when we were young. With this approach, you can help your kids develop intellectually and physically, as well as help them establish healthy habits that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”