High 5, Baby 5 – Connecting Learning with Fitness

3, 4, 6… she says, adding the tempo as she strives to keep count. She’s on the floor, all fours, trying to copy a dip and bend from a Surya Namaskar. It’s ‘CISE’, our attempt at exercise together, which means more fitness time for me and ma-beti time for us.

We are at that special juncture, when we are learning – and re-learning, how to be fit and active all over again. She’s a natural bouncing ball and that makes it easy to impart any lesson through exercise.

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Trying the wares at Decathalon.

For me, it’s a tougher tread. Constantly running between two tangents of the same pole (work and life), has pushed many significant things off the priority list – Nutrition, Hobbies and Fitness being the more important ones. And this has had an impact on a lot of things. So, when the alarm bells rang recently, I decided to go back to her age, with her and start working from there. I’ll explore more of this in a second part to this entry.

Learning and fitness – The Play Way Method:

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Keep them bouncing: Prancing around in playzones like these, while they are taught all from colours to numbers, is the Play Way approach. (Image courtesy: Pinterest).

While I have studied the concept earlier, my first practical experience with it happened when we were hunting for a right-fit school for Gaarvi. Most schools we had approached (a total of 10 actually), flashed how children ‘blossomed’ in their institution because of a ‘carefully planned curriculum in Play Way Method and Montessori’.

Teaching-learning approaches (AKA pedagogies), the methods which can be argued to be centuries old, are all about how a child learns naturally if that’s translated into a spontaneous, fun activity. Most of our age-old games are actually education – snakes and ladders are about moral values; chess and ludo about strategy and the like.

Play is a fun process, with creativity and imagination and without a prescribed outcome. It’s what we as parents generally move to, when we want the little ones to remember things. And while her beloved Anita Ma’am and school may talk about how it has worked wonders on her development graph – I know it’s working, because of an unlikely benefit – her interest towards being active and fit.

CISE for life:

‘Do you ‘CISE’? We do. It started with a confused look and move to a spark of mischief. And now she does it with her poems too.

Cise, incidentally, is her word for ‘exercise’. She coined it when she was curious about why ‘Ma’ was on the floor (totally not what it sounds like). Learning that the arch from a ‘Surya Namaskar’ was an exercise which you did to feel happy, connected instantly. And then she offered a helping weight too:

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A ‘Helpful’ Weight (Original image courtesy – Exquisite Fitness Brisbane, enhanced with BeFunky)

This, alongside, Jump-Jump and Move it, put her in the mood.

Poems and CISE:

What’s with nursery rhymes and the stress they put on linking movements and actions with poems? Why teach body parts through a song or put counting to verse; because that’s a sure-shot way to plant it in a child’s mind.

The evidence was all around us – in her early learning books; over YouTube (our dirty secret for keeping the little one occupied when all else fails) and in my own memories from school. And we saw it develop too, a month after she started going to school.

Seeing her twirl to things that are ‘round and round’ because that’s what Ma’am does, made me hop on as well. And got her long-suffering dad some brownie points – he has been bearing the heat for introducing her to play videos and kids’ poems through YouTube (though I was the one who put the tab in her hands).

Here are a few exercise routines that we adopted, adapted and work with now:

This is accompanied normally with ‘Jump, Jump’ (self-explanatory), Bhaago and the singular arch that she does whenever she accompanies me. And then, she turns teacher, patiently explaining how we would do ‘Ye wali Cise’ now or ‘Aise Karte Hain’ for a complex step.

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