Movement-Based Learning

The Power of Movement in Education: Our Innovative Approach

Girls Athletic Leadership Schools (GALS) operates on the premise that movement enhances cognitive achievement and civic engagement. Our movement pedagogy is based on a growing body of scientific evidence spanning over 30 years indicating a positive correlation between physical activity, cognition, social-emotional awareness, and the neurodevelopmental growth.

By infusing movement throughout the school day, we emphasize the importance of holistic, kinesthetic, mind-body awareness and its positive effect on social, emotional, and academic success.

We engage our bodies in service to our brains. We back our beliefs by measuring students' performance and growth in movement and holding them accountable for their participation in this mission (self-efficacy surveys, grading rubrics, heart rate monitoring, goal setting, mile time graphs, pacing group evaluation and reflections, and wellness studies in GALS Series.)

GALS incorporates movement into the day in two primary ways...

"Morning Movement"

45 Minutes of Movement to Start Your Day

Students and staff begin their days at GALS with morning movement – a 45 minute class that is a foundational part of our model. We literally jumpstart the brain by jumpstarting the body! GALS organizes morning movement classes into modules, which are designed to help students understand how they respond to different types of movement. Over the course of the school year, students try running, yoga, dance, circuit training, team sports, and more. We end the year with an epic GALS tradition — GALympics!

We believe in providing students the opportunity to see growth over time, to expand their understanding of their own capabilities, and to incorporate movement into their lives in meaningful ways.

Embodied Education

Movement-Based Curriculum

In the classroom, Embodied Education keeps students moving. Our students learn fractions by dancing and integers on the soccer field. Our teachers work to emphasize the natural connection between the body and the mind in their curricula, giving a phyiscal form to their content. This creates a culture of joy and trust in the classroom.

This unique approach creates a joyful learning environment and strengthens the bond between teachers and students.

We believe in providing students the opportunity to see growth over time, to expand their understanding of their own capabilities, and to incorporate movement into their lives in meaningful ways.


Impact on Cognitive Development

Research shows that exercise positively affects:

  • Academic performance
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving skills

Mental Health Benefits

Exercise has been shown to:

  • Enhance mood
  • Treat severe depression and anxiety
  • Provide a sense of accomplishment
  • Boost joy-associated neurotransmitters
  • Decrease stress

These benefits are crucial, considering that 12.7% of American youth experience major depressive episodes.

Fostering Civic Engagement

Participation in sports and physical activities correlates with:

  • Increased likelihood of voting
  • Greater interest in current events
  • Enhanced community involvement

At GALS, movement serves as a platform for courageous conversations and building a sense of community.

Long-term Outcomes

Girls who engage in sports and regular physical activity are more likely to:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Find employment
  • Work in male-dominated industries
  • Attain leadership positions (96% of women in C-suite positions played sports in high school or beyond)

GALS Success Stories

GALS students are outperforming their counterparts at other schools:

  • 87% of GALS students report that movement helps them learn
  • 91% of GALS girls view themselves as smart

Overall, the GALS movement-based model not only boosts cognitive abilities but also improves confidence, mental health, and future prospects for young women.

Interested in learning more?