CMS B3 program helps students stay active while learning new materials

B3 started at Idlewild Elementary School in 2017, and expanded to include the labs in 2019.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are making movement count.

Brain Body Behavior known as B3 launched at Idlewild Elementary School in 2017 and combines physical activity with sensory skills and core subjects.

Principal Larenda Denien was inspired to implement the program after attending a conference in 2017. She says adult participants engaged in interactive activities while keeping them engaged – thus B3 was born.

It started small with taped patterns in the hallways and in 2019 it expanded to include learning labs with more equipment and activities.

“It increases a student’s ability to engage which also increases their ability to make better cognitive moves and retain information that they’re learning,” Denien said.

Physical activity meets math, reading, and sensory skills.

Stickers line the hallways, wall charts adorn the classrooms, and mobility programs keep students learning throughout the entire school day.

“There’s multiplication and graphing and things that are related to our third, fourth, and fifth-grade students and downstairs there’s numbers, letters, and some simple sight words,” she said.

Denien says these activities target the whole child – from boosting academic performance to boosting their social-emotional well-being.

“The kids are partnered in here, their partners change every time they come into the lab so it’s allowing them the opportunity to work with someone else. To practice how to wait your turn and cheer someone on when they’ve done something well,” she said.

Denien says the program has also improved students’ behavior and reduced the number of incidents by 64% during the first three-quarters of the 2019-2020 school year.

Students spend one hour in the B3 lab each week but the B3 program doesn’t stop there – teachers also encourage movement with their lessons every day. For example, students can do jumping jacks or other activities when answering multiple-choice questions.

As students inch closer to end-of-grade exams – Denien is hopeful they’ll soar and bounce back from the pandemic, one move at a time.

“We’re gonna get back to where we need to be. We’re going to recover from this it’s just going to take everybody putting their heart into it and working together for our kids,” she said.

B3 labs are in at least 11 CMS schools but the program’s targets and practices are in all elementary schools in the district.