In King Street Center’s Tutoring Program, kids are paired up with fantastic volunteers from throughout the community to work one-on-one toward academic goals. Familiar with these efforts, Dr. Erika Senft Miller and her daughter, Anna Senft Miller, reached out to teach us about their Empowered Learning Method. They taught us how bodies and minds are connected, and how the environment can support each person’s unique learning style. In other words, they helped us to think about how learning could be improved if kids were able to use their bodies differently while studying.
Once Erika and Anna introduced our staff and volunteers to the method, all our tutors were able to quickly and intuitively apply it to their day to day interactions with the students. With access to a wide variety of tools, including large whiteboards, a mini basketball net, exercise balls to sit on and a few balance boards to stand on, together the students and tutors worked to find the best way to engage their bodies, so that their brains were more energized and focused. In the past, students struggled with physical fatigue from a long day of sitting in school. Now they’re able to re-energize their body while studying at the same time. One tutor shares, “With these tools, my student was able to embrace the learning I believe because it allowed him to actively express himself, which was very difficult to do with regular reading & writing.” Now, the second floor at King Street is buzzing with inspired and energized learning activities. At first it may seem a bit chaotic but everybody is able to focus–and the energy is contagious! Another tutor shares, “I think they were instrumental in [her] success, I can’t imagine what our sessions would have been like without them. The shift from writing multiplication tables on pencil and paper over to a giant whiteboard was so satisfying — it allowed her to make some mistakes, it wasn’t as permanent and test-like. The soccer ball and yoga balls were also helpful with concentration.”
Recently, we added some new tools into the mix. Thanks to Brew Mascarello’s balance board company, Vew-Do, represented by Dave Schmidt, we received 4 new balance boards! Quite rapidly our initial set of Vew-Do boards were in short supply, as many children were naturally drawn to the balance boards. And, when Erika shared the outcomes of Empowered Learning at King Street with the team at Vew-Do, they were thrilled and immediately interested in helping getting more kids on boards.
Thanks so very much – to Erika & Anna – and to our new friends at Vew-Do!
Amira Silverman, photo credit