Someone in my family is an incredible puzzle master. He can solve almost any puzzle, and does it with joy. He doesn’t really like exercise though, and while he understands why he should exercise, he doesn’t gravitate toward it.
As I watched my children in gymnastics or kicking a soccer ball, it became very apparent to me that exercise is really a puzzle. Instead of manipulating a little wooden piece into a peg, or a metal ring through another, athletes turn their bodies in different ways to get them to “fit” into a cartwheel or kick a goal.
As I teach different age clients about how to exercise, we measure heart rate, quantify times, chart successes, tweaking the “puzzle” so their bodies can go faster, stronger, quicker or more efficiently. What starts as a body-puzzle of a successful lunge, becomes a real-time, highly individual math equation, statistics and science game all at once.
Putting aside for a moment that exercise is the only way to grow more brain cells at any age, and that exercise makes our bodies healthier, happier and an infinite of other positives, why are sports, physical education and gross motor time being taken out of schools? How come we teach the map of the world but not the map of our own anatomical and physiological bodies? Why do parents hire math tutors for their children, but disregard the free teachable times of everyday movement?
What if parents triedhopscotch hiccup for teaching addition, subtraction, and multiplication, playing it with their children, everyone moving and learning together? How would weekends look if parents had jump rope contests alongside their neighbors, so all were moving their bodies through a dynamic, fast-changing puzzle? Imagine the educational and fitness possibilities of running scrabble, creative scavenger hunts, or Letterboxing.
The teachable moments are all there for ourselves and our children; we just have to start. Maybe that’s the hardest part of the puzzle.