GoNoodle online tool boosts children’s focus
The article originally posted in USA Today.
NASHVILLE — What if three major issues plaguing today’s children — a sedentary lifestyle, attention problems and high stress levels — all had one simple solution?
The Nashville-based creators of a classroom tool named GoNoodle think one such answer already exists.
“We launched GoNoodle commercially in August of last year to coincide with back-to-school, and in just 10 months, we’ve reached over 2 million kids. It’s really been phenomenal,” said Scott McQuigg, who is CEO of leading health education provider HealthTeacher Inc.
Accessible online, GoNoodle features dozens of “brain break” activities to reel unfocused kids back into a ready-to-learn state of mind.
But how exactly is GoNoodle used in the classroom setting? John Herbold, vice president of product, explains a typical day.
“In the very beginning of the day, kids come in, they might be jumping out of the bus, they’re rambunctious, and the teacher needs to calm them down — so she might do a calming activity. Midway through the day, they may be lethargic and need to wake back up, so she’ll pick one that’s more intense and uplifting. And then before tests, we’ve got activities that calm nerves, with deep breathing.”
On average, teachers with GoNoodle use it in their classrooms four times a day. One teacher, Greg Smedley of Fall Hamilton Enhanced Option School in Nashville, said he uses it on his kindergartners even more often — from 10 to 20 times a day.
“I have an interactive board,” he said. “I keep it up all day and whenever the kids need a break I just pull (GoNoodle) up on the board and let the kids have five minutes of singing and dancing.”
He said he’s seen a real change in their focus. In his nine years of teaching, he said, he noticed his classes becoming less attentive and more easily distracted, but that has shifted since he started using GoNoodle.
“They’re definitely more attentive (now), more engaged, which means that they’re learning more. Which is all you can ask,” he said.
One popular GoNoodle game features Olympians and aspiring Olympians, who coach kids through virtual track-and-field events to get their blood flowing.
“(They’re) just kind of positive mentors, virtual coaches for the kids, that come on and teach them about the event, teach them about just the attitude it takes to (succeed),” McQuigg said.
GoNoodle has also partnered with Zumba and hopes to unveil more Zumba dancing games in 2015.
Looking to the future, GoNoodle plans to integrate more of its games into the academic sphere.
Herbold said many of its games already are academically focused.
“A lot of the things we build focus on integrating core subjects with movement — math, English/language arts, science,” he said. “So as we move forward we (plan) to continue to really tightly integrate physical activity with the core subjects teachers are focused on.”
McQuigg added that fun is essential to GoNoodle’s success.
“We’ve found this really important balance between making it purposeful, so that there is an advancement to the learning environment, but also making it fun for kids,” he said.
The ultimate goal of the program, McQuigg said, is to give students awareness of themselves and their needs.
“We’re not only equipping teachers to help the kids do better and focus in the classroom, but these skills are soaking into the kids as good life skills,” he said.