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Spark Time Sparks Joy

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Spark Time Sparks Joy

Friday, September 3, 2021

Spark Time at The Fay School

Have your children talked with you about Spark Time? They have with us! This week, we wanted to share more information on “Spark Time,” a slight pivot in our daily schedule that will help us achieve Priority Three of our strategic plan: reimagining time, place, and assessment. The research surrounding the benefits of play and exercise is undeniable. Exercise primes the brain for learning. Among many positive effects, play helps children explore social dynamics, understand risk, and grow stronger. Increasing play time for children shows our commitment to developing the whole child and balances our strong academic program with current thinking about child development.  

We coined it “Spark Time” inspired the book written by John Ratey called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. In addition, Melissa Sherman, Principal, was encouraged to implement Spark Time at Fay by a similar program at her former school, the University School of Nashville. 

That said, every morning from 7:45-8:15am (weather permitting), Kindergarten – Fifth Grade students will meet at a location outside to get energized for the day. This time replaces the morning busy work you would see in a school following an antiquated school schedule where teachers try to keep students occupied first thing in the morning while they wait for classmates to arrive. Members of the Specials Team and Assistant Teachers supervise children for some free play time to collaborate, help students wake up, and get some energy out before starting class. Our teachers have already realized the benefits of Spark Time, and here is what a few of them had to say: 

"When I asked my 5th graders what they love about Spark Time, they said, "it's just so fun to be outdoors with our friends!" I am so excited that Fay has included Spark Time into the daily schedule. I have noticed that my students come into the classroom ready to learn, lead, and problem solve. It's a perfect start to the day!"
- Emma Peterson, Fifth Grade Lead Teacher
“We know that exercise helps memory, improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Starting the school day with Spark Time ensures that our students have the opportunity to move their bodies before a day of learning. This time helps our students think more clearly and focus on the tasks at hand throughout the day - our bodies and minds are completely connected, so working the body primes the mind. It also gives kids the freedom to foster relationships with classmates during more unstructured activities like swinging on the playground or playing catch, using skills like cooperation and problem-solving.” 
- Alex Cammarota Smith, Learning Specialist 
“Spark Time is a wonderful and age-appropriate opportunity that supports students arriving in their classes in the morning physically and mentally ready to learn. My students are noticeably more engaged, having been given time to acclimate in the morning, socialize with friends, and get their wiggles out, so to speak.” 
- Ashley Rutherford, First Grade Lead Teacher  

It is a joy to see how Spark Time builds excitement for the day and gives our students a visual signal that learning is different when they get to their homeroom class. We look forward to witnessing how Spark Time continues to shape more creativity, curiosity, and collaboration amongst your children! #Sparked