Spark

What’s so special about Naperville, Illinois?

Is it that their 8th graders scored sixth in the world in science and first in math on the famous Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study?  That same year, the US as a whole ranked 18th and 19th respectively.  That fact made national news in 2000 and would certainly qualify them as special.

That same year, only three percent of Naperville’s sophomores were overweight.  That’s stunning when you consider that 30 percent of sophomores nationally were overweight.

Still, neither of these are what makes Naperville so special.  These two facts are merely the byproduct of Naperville’s unique claim to fame.

What makes Naperville so special is P.E.  That’s right.  Good ol’ Physical Education. Well, actually, it’s nothing like the physical education you knew and probably hated. This is cutting edge PE, and it transformed Naperville and the schools and districts around the country that are following suit.  I’m hoping it has those same effects on our little district of two students, two teachers, and one au pair.

The revolutionary PE program in Naperville was the spark for a great new book I’m reading.  Spark was written by John Ratey, one of the two doctors who revolutionized work with adults with ADHD.  It describes the new science that links vigorous physical activity with positive effects on the brain.

I haven’t finished it, but so far I’m hooked.  I picked it up when I started Reform #1 and it’s just fascinating.  This week, I’ll finish the book, write short recaps, and let you know how I think it’s playing out at home with the kids.

  • Tomorrow – a review of Naperville’s PE program.
  • Wednesday – the science behind the exercise brain connection
  • Thursday – the effect of exercise on anxiety, depression, ADHD, and aging

Gotta run now.  Literally.

About Tara Edelschick

Right now, Tara is on sabbatical in Costa Rica. She is sleeping more, and exercising and flossing every day for the first time in her life. She is enjoying her husband, her boys, and Nafisa (the daughter she never had) more than she ever has. And she is learning to rest in the arms of the one who doesn't rank you based on how many things you can cross off your list at the end of the day. Follow her on Twitter@TaraWonders.


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