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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...

Friday, November 16, 2018

Why ASPIRE Integrated School Option Makes Sense

ASPIRE Integrated School Option is a K12 education program at Academy of Fine Arts that allows students to attend Oklahoma Virtual Public School in a private setting.  For five years we closely watched Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools, talked to teachers that teach in the virtual setting, talked to administrators of Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools and visited with parents of students that chose the Oklahoma Virtual Public School option instead of a more traditional setting.

Three years ago, we officially opened the ASPIRE Integrated School Option at Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward.. Although small in attendance so far, the arts based setting has proven to be a success for those students and families that have joined us on this adventure. ASPIRE blends progressive Oklahoma Virtual Public School with the arts based classes such as dance, acrobatic dance, gymnastics, music lessons and art. Other classes to enhance the arts learning includes music theory, dance history, anatomy and technique.

ASPIRE Integrated School Option for K-12 is a great transition from our arts based preschool and private pre-k,  Move-N-Learn Academy, which began in 1986. Move-N-Learn Academy has prepared hundreds of students for Kindergarten, and now they have the opportunity to stay in the location where they started their journey of learning.

ASPIRE students also receive perks such as membership in Lead to Succeed, a leadership training  group for ages 7 - 18 yrs, and free evening classes at Academy of Fine Arts. They also receive instruction from some of the top dance teachers and choreographers in the US through a partnership with CLI Studios in Hollywood CA, and the opportunity to attend music festivals and competitions, dance workshops and conventions, master classes presented in their art by master teachers and more.

What is Oklahoma Virtual Public School?

First of all, Let's share a bit more information about Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools in general. Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools are accredited charter schools in Oklahoma under the guidance of the State Virtual School Board. Each virtual charter school has their own school board as well as administrators.

They have state certified teachers to instruct and teach the students. Through the use of the internet, they present lessons, show examples, converse live with students and the class, while the students can ask questions or comment by virtually hold up their hand during a live lesson. The students can also use the chat pod to give clarification to other students that are stating they do not understand something. Teachers also are required to be in contact with the students by phone and available at field trips and school events.

The administrators we have met, were once  teachers in Oklahoma's brick and mortar schools. Some serving in a public teaching position for as much as 20 years. When we asked Tammy Shepherd, Principal of Oklahoma Connections Academy, why she changed to a virtual school setting, the answer we got was "I believe it is the school of the future." And we believe that to be so too.

Second, these Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools may just be a better setting for some students. The courses are challenging and progressive. Depending on the grade level, students can have four to eight lessons a day plus one to four live lessons with teachers weekly or even daily. The pace is brisk and the day is filled with energy and  school work. No time for boredom for sure. But for the right student, it can mean being finished with school for the day by 1:00 pm or working ahead a day or two.

Completing lessons early or being ahead of schedule can mean that that student now has time to participate in enhancements to the lessons, or following a favorite passion such as dance, music or sports. It also means the possibility of more time for family or just play and being a kid.

Why do we believe that Oklahoma Virtual Public School could be a consideration for your child? Why should you inquire about it?

Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools appear to be training students more for the future. Classes such as Educational Technology is teaching skills in using technology that is above the level of the typical computer classes and software classes I personally have attended at Vo-Tech classes and conferences. They are teaching the skills in a fun way that allows kids to learn and relates to their world. Not by computer games, but by class work. Work that relates to their other classes and trains them to use the full capability of computers. More so than the average adult knows and uses now.

They also are training students through health and fitness courses that teaches the necessity of living an active life and that life is not playing on a computer or iPad. Health and fitness courses that mandates tracking of their daily, weekly and monthly physical activity helps with checks and balances of what a healthy physical life is about. Just because it is a virtual school, it does not mean hours and hours of setting, if managed the way it is managed at ASPIRE Integrated School Option. It does mean learning to be accountable for your health and fitness level, or lack of.

The students of the Information Age are also learning about different resources throughout the internet in locating the most current information, whether is is surfing through logs on the NASA site for current information about planets or other sites and updated PDF's. Information is more current online than in most text books (although virtual students do use textbooks to reference from time to time as well).  And information can be updated quickly online for the most current facts and details.

When the teachers call, they ask the student "How are you doing today?" "Do you need any help from me today?", "Can you tell me about your day?". "What would you like to talk about?" . But better yet, if the student does need to talk to them, even on an unscheduled day, their phone number is available to the student and their families for assistance and support. If the student or parent needs a face to face meeting on a lesson,  they go into the teachers Live Lesson room. Always happy to help.

Families can use Oklahoma Virtual Public School at home. It is free to any school age child residing in the boundaries of the state of Oklahoma. A parent must be able to commit to 4 - 6 hours a day of being with the child to assist them on their school journey. But if this cannot happen, this is where ASPIRE Integrated School Option can fill the gap with Learning Coaches.There is a fee for the Learning Coach and the student coming to Academy of Fine Arts for their school day.

So many times, families are forced to have their children give up activities, the arts an sports, in favor of the student being able to keep up with homework. Many young, gifted people leave classes, lessons and sports because they cannot g keep up with the huge amount of homework when attend school in other settings. "School comes first", says the parent. But at ASPIRE Integrated School Option, arts classes, fitness/sports training and participating in sports is easier, because when they complete their lessons under the guidance of a Learning Coach (who can only have up to five students), there is NO HOMEWORK. So kids get to stay in classes or training's where their passion lies.

Many families state that they had to call off a family outing on the weekend because their child had to work all weekend on their homework. Family time is scarce and almost totally forgotten. But when a student has their own personal Learning Coach that is keeping them on task daily Monday Through Friday, lessons are completed on time and the weekend is given back to the family to spend time together.Time to get to know each other again and have fun.

So why do we believe that ASPIRE Integrated School Option makes sense?

When you combine Oklahoma Virtual Public School and the learning coach services of the ASPIRE Integrated School Option at Academy of Fine Arts, a whole new world opens up for your child and family. They no longer hate or fear school, but love to come to learn.

ASPIRE is a great setting for students and families that prefer a progressive curriculum and setting. One that fits their needs for more brain breaks using physical activity such as sports training, dance, yoga, gymnastics, acrobatics, art and fitness. Besides having a scheduled day, when a student needs a break, their learning coach has the ability to allow them a break. They can use this break to read for enjoyment, free play (younger students), play music, compose music, stretch their bodies and more. ASPIRE is an environment that allows for movement and you will never hear "please sit still".

A lot of articles have been written about the value of the arts being a major part of a child's education. Many life and executive skills can be learned through the study of the arts no matter what their course of study in college takes them. Critical thinking skills, personal management, organizational skills, are just a very few. The arts also helps to build self esteem, allows for creative thought and action, the ability to cooperate and work with others and many more. Being in a setting that encourages the participation in the arts is setting your child on the pathway to personal success.

The arts is also a setting that allows for mistakes and the time to learn from mistakes. It the arts, students learn that a mistake is a sign that you are still learning and that you just keep trying until is is mastered. This is a skill most employers would love to see in employees, instead of the giving up or passing the project on to "someone else smarter". In the right arts based setting, your child will learn to grow as a person as well as a student.

As stated earlier, the Oklahoma Virtual Public Schools are training and educating students for the future. After all, it takes many years to publish new text books. There has to be a first draft, editing, second draft, more editing and possibly a third draft before it is ever ready for publication. After publication, the books then sit in a warehouse waiting to be purchased by a school district. More waiting. But life and world events do not wait. They happen everyday. With virtual books and materials to study, edits to the information can happen shortly after the historic event.

School publications online, can be easily edited and then goes out to everyone immediately. No waiting and falling more behind on the current information that is needed to meet the current college entrance or job employment. It just makes sense that today's, students need their school courses in a timely matter and not when it is all historical. We think most parents will believe and want this for their child as well.

Why does Oklahoma Virtual Public School make sense inside an arts academy? 

Why not? An Oklahoma public education offered in a private setting that offers the arts and sports training. It just might be the best environment for many kids. Just think, an environment that encourages movement, music making (and that means noise), physical activity and artistic endeavors.

When a student is frustrated with their studies, at ASPIRE they can go work out, play their instrument, sketch or dance to refocus then return to their studies. Or if they are really interested in learning more about the subject they are studying, they can take part of their school day to do more research and learn more.

More and more articles and research into the value of learning to play an instrument appear in the news, magazine and internet. Research shows that learning music should be a top priority for young children, teens and adults. In most school settings, children experience music from a couple of times a  week to every day depending on grade. But if there is any extension of the music, such as a true music theory class, that most likely is done after school. At ASPIRE, music theory is a part of the school day and week.

The body and brain connection is not new. Articles abound on the internet, in magazines and books. But in a setting that offers dance (tap/jazz/ballet/contemporary/clogging), gymnastics and acrobatics, yoga, sports training and more, there is a daily opportunity for students to participate in physical training.  Some studies have referenced these arts based classes as a link to doing better in school for young children and teens. Others mention the value of stress relief most children benefit from by participating in the arts.

Whether your child's passion is performing or fine arts, or not, the presence of these classes in your child's daily school schedule means they receive breaks from their general studies that also helps with fitness and brain function. Is you child feeling stressed about math? They can go to a piano studio within the facility and practice their music, returning when they have calmed down and can think again. Or move to the dance studio or gym and work out physically, returning to the studies ready to complete them.

The pairing of Oklahoma Virtual Public School and the classes at ASPIRE also means that if your child's passion is the arts, they now have more time available to them to train. More time for personal coaching. More time for technique. More time to attend conventions, competitions, workshops, etc.

If your child's passion is not the arts, but sports, being at ASPIRE allows for more time to train as well! And we already know the benefits of dance training for athletes.

More flexibility. More arts or sports training. More personal time. More family time. Attending Virtual Public School in an arts based setting may just be the educational setting that makes your child happy. And is that not what parents ultimately want for their children?

We invite parents in the Woodward area to take a look at ASPIRE for their child. Oklahoma Virtual Public School is FREE to all children 5 yrs - 18 yrs living in Oklahoma. ASPIRE does have a fee to cover the Learning Coach fees.

So why does ASPIRE Integrated School Option Make Sense?  Ask your child because we are sure they know the answer.

Mary Myers is the Director and Owner of Academy of Fine Arts in Woodward OK

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 :