It is the tradition of our education system to believe that individuals will learn best if they are presented with lots of information, in the form of a lecture or 2-dimensional written form, and seated still with eyes forward and taking notes. However, for real learning to occur, throughout our lives, hands-on learning in an environment with rich sensory experiences is optimal (Hannaford, 1995).
Even if instinctively teachers know that children need to do so, often times the classrooms are packed and teachers simply do not feel that they have the room. Others might fear chaos or a rise in discipline problems if they allow students more freedom in the classroom to move around, or simply feel that there is not enough time in the school day. However, there is plenty of evidence to support that having the children sit for long periods of time is actually doing more harm than good. In fact, it can be the very reason that discipline problems arise in the classroom in the first place.
Some movements are better than others in specifically supporting brain development. Slow, efficient, and specific movements that are designed to make sure the brain is built correctly is better than fast, disorganized movement, which is why children who are hyperactive, although always moving, still find learning difficult (Kokot, 2010). But even if teachers do know how to do this, incorporating any kind of movement in a lesson is beneficial, especially for these hyperactive learners, because they do not possess enough balance and control to sit still. Sitting still is truly uncomfortable, and their reticular activating system (RAS) of their brain needs extra stimulation of any kind to move the information on to the higher part of the cerebral cortex. Therefore, involving the senses through movement helps children pay attention and helps them recall the information by engaging the whole brain.
The research is flooding with reasons why teachers should get their students up and moving while learning new concepts.
--From my book: Movement Makes Math Meaningful: Away from the Desk Math Lessons Aligned with the Common Core, Page 8
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.