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Physical & Mental Wellness in Education
By Jonathan D. Carroll, M.A.
Carroll Educational Group, Inc.
Athletics and physical activities provide an individual with many rewards. This is not exactly new news, but I have found that it also helps with one area that people seem to forget about…mental wellness.
In the October 2000 issue of The Physician and Sports Medicine, Dr. Kevin R. Fontaine found that depression, anxiety, panic disorder,
energy/vigor, self-esteem, and positive affect were all improved with physical activity. His study also found that physical activity is underused as a remedy for these disorders.
When I was coaching athletics, I was always most excited about players on my team that were able to be successful in both academics and athletics. One of my teams (sixth grade girls basketball) had 11 out of 13 players on the honor roll and with even a few members in advanced classes. In addition, the team was successful on the court and full of wonderful citizens.
Being involved with athletics or any other activity helps students stay on track. Along with the idea of eligibility, it teaches students at a young age to juggle responsibilities both in the classroom and outside of the learning environment. Understanding the importance of balancing life activities is what allows individuals to be successful.
This not only applies to younger individuals, but adults. Many adults do not participate in enough physical activities. While we are all crunched for time these days, there is time in the day where physical activity can be squeezed out. For example, walk during one’s lunch hour or do calisthenics right before bed. This will allow one to stay active even when it does not seem possible.
From my own personal experiences, I have found that individuals with ADD/ADHD benefit from physical activity. This helps get the mind going while burning off excess energy. Most people will see a difference in productivity as a result of increasing physical activity.
Let me take this a different direction, not only does this help with mental well-being, but it can also help with goal setting. For example, I recently stepped onto a scale and did not like the number staring back at me. I decided it was time to increase physical activity. So now I had two things I had to do. First, I had to decide how much weight I wanted to lose. That meant picking a realistic number and sticking to it. It is very easy to say that one wants to lose weight, but it is much easier to create an actual target. This could be a physical number, clothing size, or the good old belt scale. The second was creating a game plan for achieving my weight loss goal. That included the specific activities, location, time, and other aspects to my plan.
Well, I began on this journey over the summer and to this day, have almost reached my target weight. I picked a work-out plan and basically stuck with it (minus time for a minor knee injury). In addition, as I continued increasing my work-out time, I also felt sharper. Plus, it was my time. No one could take that away from me while I was working out. I would listen to my iPod and escape into my own world.
I would encourage parents to stress this to children. Allow them the opportunity to increase physical activity as well as setting up a plan. For adults, try to follow my example. It does not only have to be weight, it could be getting stronger or increasing endurance for running.
Helping Students with Learning Challenges to Be More Successful
By Jonathan D. Carroll, M.A.
Carroll Educational Group, Inc.
The beginning of the school year should be an exciting time in the lives of both students and families. It is a chance for everyone to learn some new and exciting lessons about life and other important areas. However, in the case of many students and families, this is far from the truth. Students that struggle with academics or do not have the love of learning are not looking forward to going back to school and will not enjoy the opportunity to be a successful student.
OK, so what does the above statement mean? I have found that some students do not truly understand what it takes to be successful in school. For some younger learners, school was easier in the earlier grades and as it becomes more challenging, he or she is not able to adapt to the increased expectations and responsibilities associated with higher learning. That is a major cause of student failure.
However, there is hope. Like the famous saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” That is why it is important to teach students at a young age study skills and how to be successful in school. The more prevention skills we teach young students, the better these young learners will be in the classroom.
What are prevention skills? For students, these would include things like outlining, note taking, note cards, study strategies, time management, organizational skills, and other areas of school functioning. Students are expected to know these things, or at least pick these up along the way.
But, in the case of some students, it is not the case. In my work with ADD/ADHD students, I have found that a majority have difficulty with these skills. It does not mean the individual cannot pick up these skills, it means that it has to be introduced and reinforced to the young learner. Subtle skills are not easy concepts for ADD/ADHD people to pick up or understand, so the young learner needs extra help. Medication has helped ADD/ADHD individuals manage certain aspects of their lives, but that does not mean that the student will immediately have a skill set in place due to the medication. Students with ADD/ADHD must have study skills and strategies taught and reinforced on a regular basis. While this will benefit most young learners, it will take ADD/ADHD students a long way to future academic success. Keep in mind that this is not only a strong recommendation for ADD/ADHD students, but for all students.
Not only does this apply to students, but adults as well. Many gifted and wonderful adults struggle in professional life due to deficits in everyday skills. Like students, adults can also benefit from prevention skills. This would include organization, life functioning, time management, and budgeting of both time and finances. Indeed, many of these are similar to younger students, but these can apply to adults as well.
The most enjoyable thing about my work with individuals is seeing the development and utilization of new prevention skills. For example, one of my clients was struggling with organization and time management. We set up a calendar and organization system that allowed the individual to apply her strength as a visual person. Just by working together to create two small changes, the results were amazing. This particular young woman improved academic performance as well as keeping her life in a more organized manner. This was a result of taking two new prevention skills and applying these to a regular routine.