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Movement Leads To Learning in Children

Our Adapted Gymnastic class looks like a lot of fun, but there is more going on than what the observer sees. Recently our Adapted Gymnastics...

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Why Lead to Succeed?

Last month, we started a new group at Academy of Fine Arts that all registered students, ages 7 - 18 yrs can opt to be a part of. The group is about learning to be a leader in school, classes at AOFA and in the community, and is at no extra charge to participating families.

September was our first meeting and most of the meeting was talking about what leadership is and what qualities do we think a leader has, or brings to different events and situations. It was a very enlightening time for all in attendance.

So why offer children an opportunity to learn about leadership and develop leadership skills of their own? Because becoming a strong leader takes time. Just like growing from a child to an adult cannot happen, learning to be a true leader takes time to mature as well. After all, leadership is more than just making better choices or being a big boy or girl. Leadership skills of true leaders, tend to start to develop as a child and teen.

I was invited into leadership training when I was ten years of age. I was involved with lessons as a student when the head of the program approached my parents about me becoming more than just a student of the course. She explained that I would continue to learn and improve my skills in the course I was participating in, but I would also learn to assist the instructors, be a demonstrator and learn leadership skills as well. This lady, that saw something special in my abilities, started me on one of the most wonderful adventures of my life...... teaching and leadership.

Over the years, I have had many opportunities to listen to and be trained by some of the worlds greatest personal development leaders. Jack Canfield, Les Hewitt, Michael Gerber, Fran Hewitt, Darren Hardy, Les Brown, Dave Crenshaw, Jim Abrams, Jim Rohn,  Dave Rendall, Steve Chandler and Sam Beckford to just name a few. Each with their own specialties and viewpoints, have helped me to develop into a leader for many different groups and organizations. Their knowledge about personal development and leadership growth continue to influence my life.

Now it is time to share this wealth of knowledge and training with a different group, our students at Academy of Fine Arts. As I stated before, last month we learned and discussed what leadership is and what it is about. We also discussed qualities of a leader. This month, we continue the conversation and will learn time management skills that leaders use to stay on track. Other things we will be discussing is switchtasking/multitasking versus prioritizing, planning and scheduling. Because these are all skills that help a person to be in position to lead.

As the months go by and the group grows in skills, we will be reaching out to others in our classes, school, homes and community with projects to continue the growth of leadership. We will also be learning skills as to how to supports others on their leadership journey. And we will also explore challenging others in the group to explore how they can put their leadership skills to use outside of the group and Academy of Fine Arts/

If you, as a parent, is unsure about your child dedicating one Saturday morning a month to this adventure, I suggest that you visit with me or allow them to attend a couple of meetings to see what your child's response is to the experience. Registered students age 7 - 18 yrs may attend and participate. We do hope to see your child this Saturday at Lead to Succeed.

Mary Myers is the owner and director of Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward, OK

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Did Walmart Kill The Power Of The Sticker?

 Teachers and parents throughout  more than a few generations have used stickers to reward children for good behavior or good work on their school papers. But, have you found lately that children are less than interested in stickers lately? That the "sticker" seems to of lost it's special super powers?

 Some could say that stickers are not as rewarding today as they were before the internet age. Others might add that children are overindulged these days, and a paper sticker does not match up to being given a cell phone. And there is probably some  truth in both statements.

 But can looking at all details and a trip to Walmart reveal a new answer all together! Remember the Walmart Greeters at the doors? Does your Walmart still offer that smiling, older adult image to greet you and your children?  If so, watch the greeter and see if you can see what we  have encountered here.

The greeters are very nice and sweet. Older adults that are just trying to supplement their monthly funds or wanting to be out among people. They say "Hello, welcome to Walmart." They make you smile and then it happens...….. out come the yellow smiley face stickers, and they are offering them to your children or grandchildren.

A gesture that seems harmless, they smile at your child and the child smiles back at them. You remind your child to say "Thank you" to be polite. Your child continues through the store with you, smiling with their bright yellow sticker. All is well. Or is it...….

A couple of years ago, I was putting tiny smiley face stickers on turned out little feet in ballet class. They were smiling and showing their first position in ballet class. If it was great effort (not looking for perfection due to the age group), I place a smile sticker on one of their shoes. The left shoe to be correct, because we were working on which was left and which was right.

Stopping in front of a student that was not making an effort, I encouraged her to give it a try so that I could give her a smiling sticker. Her blonde head and blue eyes looked up at me and she said, "That's okay. We are going to Walmart after class and they give you a sticker for just showing up!"  Hmmmmm, time to rethink about stickers to encourage work in class or to reward effort.

Offering stickers to our students has been a challenge in recent years, which means we have had to find "work arounds" to become creative, using layering strategies to help the children want to complete class or an assignment in great fashion. After some trial and effort, a new system was designed, and you guessed it! The system includes stickers!!

A couple of systems have been tried in the last couple of years, with some to little success. So we continued to work on the system to make it more fun, while still directing young children towards greater success in class. A new system will begin in October of this year and more details will be emailed out to parents, so that they can encourage their child to continue completing their class and work in high fashion.

Students are still encouraged to work hard in class and on certain movements or elements in class. Stickers are given out for effort, participation, completion in class (did not ask to sit down or refused top participate), knowledge of skill (recall from other lessons/classes), attention to proper behavior in class, leadership and camaraderie. Musicians are also awarded stickers for returning their practice forms , fully filled out and signed by a parent.

Once a student is able to fill their form with stickers, they are rewarded by spinning a wheel for a prize. Prizes can be a trip to the treasure box to select their own prize, candy, a t-shirt, gym bags and more! Prizes will change every six to eight weeks to keep the interest fresh. At the end of the season, during the recital a drawing will be held of all of the students that were able to spin the wheel. One grand prize will be awarded.

So, back to the question, "Did Walmart kill the power of the stickers?" Did they? There are no greeters at most Walmart stores these days to observe and test the idea that this was part of the demise of the power of stickers we used in classes. It does appear that stickers lost their magic in our classes. Was it because of the big yellow stickers with happy faces? Or was it because the greeters were so nice, they did not dare ask the kids "Did you do well in school today?" or "Have you been good for mom today?" before offering the sticker. Life  just became too easy to get that big yellow sticker. Why work for it when it can be given to you.

So, Walmart may of had something to do about the demise of the power of offering a sticker to our students, or maybe not. But for sure the little student telling me it was okay she did not earn a sticker in class, because she could get one at Walmart with no effort  may just be the worst thing in her lifetime. Work ethics are learned early. So if you still have greeters at your local Walmart, help them out with a run down of questions before the sticker is handed to your child.
Have you used your manners today?
Have you been a friend to someone today?
Have you did your best today?
Did you complete your chores?
Did you complete your homework?
Have you read a book today?
Have you worked hard today?

It does not hurt them to work for the sticker. It makes them stronger for the future.

Mary Myers is the owner/ Director of Academy of Fine Arts located in Woodward OK

Monday, April 30, 2018

Your Child Does Not Follow Through With School Work or Chores?

How does dance help your child to follow through with projects, homework and personal chores? There are many ways. But let's explore the most obvious for now.

Dance is a great training ground for your child to learn executive thinking  and organization skills!  That is right! From the process of dressing for the class to stepping on the floor, you child learns about time and organization skills. How is that?

When putting on their dance wear for class, there is order in how it goes on, tights, leotard (shirt, pants and shorts for boys), shoes. When stepping onto the floor, they have their placement and standing positions. But it goes a lot further than that!

Dance teaches children about space, time, area and awareness. In a well organized class, that follows an organized curriculum, your child learns how to think and move while listening to the music. This means learning to travel in their own space and timing from point A to point B and back to point A again, without bumping into others (respecting others space) and arriving at their placement by the time the music calls for the child to be there and be in rhythm with the music (follow through).

Dance teaches respect for others. Learning and knowing their placement , also teaches about knowing other class members placement (space and time) as well. By working together, and knowing their path to follow, young dancers understand that the other dancers have just as much importance to the work as they do. They learn to curtsy and bow at the end of their dance piece to say thank you. They perform a reverence toward the teacher to thank them for the class and guidance.

Dance teaches time management. Have you ever sat and watched a dance class? There is a lot that goes on in a forty five or sixty minute class! Preparing the body with proper dance wear, shoes, and warm ups to prepare the body. Music theory in talking about the music and how the choreography works with the music rhythms and theme. New step break down and performance of the steps, Working in patterns across the floor and transferring it to the dance. Completion and/or review of the choreography taught the weeks before.

Dance class also teaches patience. By repeating the process each and every week, your child knows what to expect and follows through. But there is also the amount of time it takes to learn a dance and wait their turn that is valuable. Your child, learns to respect the teachers time as well as learning to focus and use their patience while others in the class learn the steps and movements.

So think about registering for dance class, when checking out what would be a great activity for your child. It is fun and can teach teamwork like any sport can. But your child has the opportunity to learn so very much more in a dance class. They can learn life skills that helps them for a life time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why Should Your Son Be Taking Gymnastics??

There are many articles that cover the internet as to the values of children being in a gymnastics class. But we want to talk specifically about boys today. Why? Because families of boys tend to overlook gymnastics for their sons in our area, and turn more towards soccer, baseball, basketball, football, martial arts, and the shooting and hunting sports.

Why would gymnastics be overlooked? Well, probably because the television networks spend more time showing girls at gymnastic meets and only a small amount of time on the male gymnasts. Stop and think about it. How much coverage did you see on the men's Olympic team this past year? Don't remember? Probably because it was not during prime time network coverage.  

Why should your son be taking gymnastics? Well, we have a lot of ideas that is documented truth and will share about that later. But first let's talk about some of the things that we hear parents say to us about their son being in gymnastics. Some things such as, "We thought is was a sport only for girls." Or, "My boy is not going to wear one of those stretchy leotard things!" Or how about, "Boys can't bend and do splits like girls can!". And, "Gymnastics is a girls sport, not a boys sport!"  We encourage you to read on......

Gymnastics originates from the Greek and Roman games. Some articles even say is was used as a form of physical training for the military in ancient Spain. Here is one version of origin we found on the Scholastics.com site for teachers
(https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/history-gymnastics-ancient-greece-modern-times/) . It reads:

"Gymnastics was introduced in early Greek civilization to facilitate bodily development through a series of exercises that included running, jumping, swimming, throwing, wrestling, and weight lifting. Many basic gymnastic events were practiced in some form before the introduction by the Greeks of gymnazein, literally, "to exercise naked." Physical fitness was a highly valued attribute in ancient Greece, and both men and women participated in vigorous gymnastic exercises. The Romans, after conquering Greece, developed the activities into a more formal sport, and they used the gymnasiums to physically prepare their legions for warfare. With the decline of Rome, however, interest in gymnastics dwindled, with tumbling remaining as a form of entertainment."

So, back to why your son should be in gymnastics class. First of all, gymnastics is a great way for your child to develop better physical fitness. It is challenging and never boring, well, maybe a bit boring when they get stuck on a particular skill and feel like they are not going anywhere with the sport. But that is with every sport. Correct?

But a great coach knows how to distract your son from the complaint of boredom with different variations of the drills in learning a new skill. They can make it into a fitness challenge game that you son will enjoy and eventually see improvement from. The coach will track your child's skills and probably even post them on a check off poster for a visual enhancement towards working more to achieve other skill levels! 

Besides increasing your child's fitness level, they will also learn other great skills such as balance, spatial awareness, body control, strength of mind and personal commitment. 

Gymnastics also teaches all students that a particular skill starts at "X" and ends at "Y", thus also teaching a young child to follow through until they reach the end of the skill situation. Which transfers to being able to complete school assignments and projects! School teachers love having gymnastic students in their classes because of the strict self discipline the student acquires in the training of the body and mind.   

Gymnastics as we know it today, is a competitive sport and there are opportunities of being asked to be on teams. One of the major values learned in a gymnastic class or on a team is always working towards your personal best. That when a skill does not work on a particular day, you just keep trying and continue to work towards your goals. If you fall, gymnastics teaches you how to get back up quickly and try again. Once again, a personal skill training that transfers over into school and later in life into the work force. Being able to keep moving forward in life, no mater how many obstacles is a great way to get on a team.

Camaraderie in a gymnastic class seems to be like no other. Instead of your classmates sitting on a bench, maybe checking their cell phones, when you miss a tumbling element, or grab of a bar, in gymnastics the classmates are on the mats working out as well. They encourage with high fives and constant sayings of encouragement to get back up and try again, and again.

Speaking of a bench. There is none! Well, maybe a bench to sit on to take your shoes off or put your warm ups back on, but NO BENCH to sit on when you are training! Even if others in the training have made the team, and your son is still training to make the team, there is NO BENCH and NO SIDELINE in gymnastics class. No waiting and wanting to be able to get on the floor. No wondering if someone gets hurt, will you be chosen to be the one that gets on the floor next. AMAZING! No waiting for something to happen to the better athletes so that your child can go in and continue his training.
Gymnastics, like Cheerleading, historically has been dominated by males. It was a male that brought gymnastics from Europe to the United States.

"The sport was introduced to the United States by Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, who taught gymnastics in several U.S. universities about the time of the Civil War, and who is credited with inventing more than 30 pieces of apparatus. Most of the growth of gymnastics in the United States centered on the activities of European immigrants, who introduced the sport in their new cities in the 1880s. Clubs were formed as Turnverein and Sokol groups, and gymnasts were often referred to as "turners." Modern gymnastics excluded some traditional events, such as weight lifting and wrestling, and emphasized form rather than personal rivalry." (Scholastic.com)

Some of the top coaches in the US and the work have been male coaches. And gymnastics for males was in the Olympics forty years before women's gymnastics.

"Men's gymnastics was on the schedule of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and it has been on the Olympic agenda continually since 1924. Olympic gymnastic competition for women began in 1936 with an all-around competition, and in 1952 competition for the separate events was added. In the early Olympic competitions the dominant male gymnasts were from Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland, the countries where the sport first developed. But by the 1950's, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern European countries began to produce the leading male and female gymnasts." (Scholastics.com)

What can your son expect when he enters one of our gymnastic classes? The first thing he will notice is a lack of boredom! The next thing he can expect is a lot of movement and activity. New skills are always talked through and demonstrated. There is a warm up, a stretch session to develop better flexibility and then drills that help to build skills and strength. There is time for individual work on the skills each person is trying to achieve. And then there is a cool down and stretch out before the class is dismissed. 

Why should your son be taking gymnastics class? Gymnastics is training your son will achieve self discipline, a stronger body and mind positioning, time management, follow through on projects, camaraderie with other classmates, and an understanding that a sport can be part of your life, but is not life. Life is learning that no matter how many times you fall down, you can get yourself up again and again. And gymnastics can help them to learn, see and be that. A person that just does not give up on achieving their lifetime goals. 

* Mary Myers is the owner of Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward Oklahoma. She has been coaching gymnastics for 40 years. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Is Your Dance Teacher A Genius?

Most dance teachers would probably say no, they are not a genius. But when you consider all the continual training and the areas of training they have studied over the years, your dance teacher may be one of the most educated persons you will meet in your life. Especially if your teacher is also part of the administration, or the business owner, of the dance school you take classes at.

For instance, your teacher has spent many years on their own training and learning from the very beginning, just as you have. They have suffered through the sore tight muscles, blisters, muscle fatigue, etc, such as you have. They have worked on memory skills and retention, again and again, just as you have. But their training has never stopped at a certain level or after a particular master class.

If there is any one reason to admire your dance teacher, that for sure is that they are a "lifetime learner". With dance being an ever changing element in performing arts, with many trends and the classics to stay abreast of , a dance teacher is always studying, always working and always trying to be the best that they can be for their students.

With new trends, especially the more athletic styles of dance, has came more opportunity for student injuries in class. This means that your dance teacher not only needs to know the moves, steps, style, etc, but also the correct technique that helps his or her students to learn injury free for a lifetime. He or she has most likely trained in assessing injuries to a certain level  and has taken first aide and CPR classes.

Your dance teacher also understands history and the progressions of dance and how to use that history to build creative choreography for the future. Dance is not new. It is just evolving all the time. By knowing dance history, your teacher knows how to connect to the world and help a dancer to grow.

To understand technique, your teacher has spent hours upon hours of study and practice in  dance and stretch techniques, anatomy, physiology, kinetics, and general science. They know how the body should operate free of injury and understand the different elements that makes up one movement at a time. If they did not, they would not be able to break down the dance movements and teach it in different steps or levels for their students.  They would not understand how to defy gravity for turns, leaps and jumps.

All dance teachers have studied nutrition. Either in a class situation or on their own. Nutrition is essential for a properly working body, and so they study to be able to continue to to dance for hours and multiple days a week. Great dance teachers also are a role model exhibiting proper hydration and preparation before, between and after classes by what they choose to eat and drink.

Time management is an important skill that teachers spend hours in developing. After all, every class that she has you in, there is a designated amount of time allowed for what is to be worked on in class. Time management skills is also used in developing lesson plans, selecting costumes, choreographing dances and administrative duties. Time management skills are always being improved upon by self study or attending training's.

Costume and set design sounds like fun, but a skilled dance teacher knows just how to make every student on stage look beautiful in their performance! Besides getting the right fit, color and style of costume, your teacher also has to match it to the show theme. And then there is the set/stage design and the lighting and sound to be considered. Dance teachers spend weeks and hours on getting it just right, so that the dancers look beautiful and the audience is entertained.

Human development and coaching is also an area your dance teacher may of studied as well. Ever noticed that when you have a problem, your dance teacher may be someone that you feel comfortable enough with to go to? For some reason your teacher is a person that is easy to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a voice to encourage and a person to quickly give you information as to where to go to to get help, how to handle a situation, how to find your personal courage, etc.

Problem solving is a number one skill your dance teacher has had to learn to do. Ever notice how quickly they can change a part of the choreography that is not working? Pull a costume back together that decided to come apart just as you are about to step out on the stage? Find a way to mend a hurtful moment in class between you and another student? Help you tape a hurt ankle to go right back onto stage? Dance teachers have high level problem solving skills that tend to be over looked by many.

So, is your dance teacher a genius? They would probably say no. But ask as many adults today what skills they learned most from their dance teachers. Probably they will not remember the dance steps or technique. But they more than likely will tell you about all the life skills they learned in dance classes from their genius dance teachers.

*Written by Mary Myers, owner and director of Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward OK.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Movement Leads To Learning in Children

Our Adapted Gymnastic class looks like a lot of fun, but there is more going on than what the observer sees. Recently our Adapted Gymnastics class was featured in the Woodward BoomTown Magazine published by The Woodward News. We invite you to read it and learn how gymnastics is making a difference in the lives of these children. We are also very grateful for the interviews our parents were willing to participate in.

Thank you Elise Solloway, writer for the Woodward News, for the opportunity to share with our community area about this great program and what the benefits may be for these children.

You can read the article from this link :