Feeding All Four in county schools
|By Sue Tiffin - Staff Writer | January 15, 2015|
During lessons, students of all ages at Archie Stouffer Elementary School (ASES) take movement breaks, engage in brain puzzles and develop compassion for others.
They’re learning what the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) calls a ‘way of being.’
“Feed All Four incorporates Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” said Catherine Shedden, TLDSB manager of communications. “Knowing that you need to make sure you have fed your body, mind, emotions and spirit before you’re able to learn.”
The Feed All Four initiative also uses the First Nations Medicine Wheel to remind teachers and students to connect physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellness to teaching and learning.
As a result, Shedden said when it’s time to learn about something like circumference, the students might head outside to measure a tree rather than draw circles at their desks. They are able to stand or move at their desks inside, and learn to understand themselves and how others think and learn while discussing the traditional curriculum.
“My hope with this is that it will give students the ability to form great habits to be healthy, active participants in society and in their own lives to take care of themselves, and to learn to take care of others,” said Michelle Kernohan, Grade 7 and 8 ASES teacher.
Kernohan said the students in her class often request a movement break to regain focus in class because they feel they are better able to pay attention and retain information if they are given the opportunity to move and be active.
“They are becoming cognizant of the benefits of taking care of themselves and are eager to learn new ways to be their best selves.”
The students taking part in the initiative respond enthusiastically to “feeding all four.”
“We can use this for life,” said one student. “It gives us strategies to help us calm down, concentrate and focus and manage stress.”
“It can help us with challenging things we want to accomplish,” said another student.
Kernohan said the initiative sets the bar for meeting the needs of the ‘whole’ child, and that the students are becoming closer with each other and with people outside the classroom as a result.
“It helps us create a family environment in our classroom in which kids support each other and connect with one another,” said Kernohan.
To incorporate the body into learning, the students might stretch, do yoga or walk. To focus on the mind, they challenge each other with puzzles, word problems and concentration activities. Their spirit is engaged when they take active roles helping out at the food bank or with kindergarten students, and their emotions are acknowledged by taking a time out to read quietly, enjoy nature or listen to calm music.
The initiative is catching the eye of other school boards and educational associations from around the province, and the TLDSB is sharing it with community partners as well.
Shedden said some families have the Feed All Four poster on their fridge to remind them of a balanced life.
“We think Feed All Four is not just for students, and not just for staff, we think it’s for everyone,” said Shedden. “Everyone needs to feed all four every day so that they are able to learn and approach life in a healthy way.”
To learn more about the Feed All Four initiative, visit the TLDSB web site at tldsb. on.ca, or search for #FeedAllFour on Twitter.
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander.