Physical activity is a must for a healthy life just like proper nutrition! With kids out of school, the focus has been on education, but we know kids need physical activity just as much as education. Physical activity is vital for brain development, muscle input for the body, and it increases your child’s readiness for learning.
So, let’s get fit!
Consider building physical breaks and activities into your daily routine between learning periods. Movement will help support your child’s ability to remain seated and focused to complete any academic or learning tasks you have them involved in. If you can safely get outside, then do it! Fresh air is good for everyone at any age. Even with a backyard, there are lots of things that can be easily implemented in at-home, like jumping jacks, hopscotch, four square, hide-and-seek, kicking a soccer ball at a target, balloon tennis and even frisbee.
If you can’t get outside, think about at-home physical activities you can complete in a long hallway, or if needed, have your children help you move furniture to make space. There are plenty of at-home physical activities and educational opportunities that can be done indoors, even with limited space! Consider doing windmills with arms stretched out to touch opposing toes, flamingo stance, sit-ups, modified or typical push-ups, bunny hops, the “Hokey Pokey”, or even deep knee bends/squats and lunges.
We know kids like competition, so find ways to make this more engaging by letting whoever finishes a running race first earn an extra treat. Another option is to allow your children to earn points for however many sit-ups, push-ups or other activity they complete. The one with the most points gets to pick the game or movie watched that night. If age differences exist among your children, set a number of points you expect for each child and they each get dessert for reaching their goal!
Focus on what motivates your child to set as the motivator/reinforcer. Do they want to help make chocolate chip cookies, pick which book is read to them at bedtime, or do they get to pick what is served for dinner the next night? If it seems too broad to have wide open choices, consider giving them two or three options to pick from what you are capable of providing.
Other ways to support physical breaks and motor skills is to use motor games. Remember when we used to play “Mother May I,” or “Red Light, Green Light?” You can also play imitation games like “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader.” With these games, you can imitate actions, sounds or words. Support your child’s ability to follow directions by giving each other requests, like “Take 3 giant steps forward,” and think about incorporating objects in the house. Turn the activity around and have them give you the directions! If all else fails pull out the Wii, dust it off and have some fun competing in digital sports!
The main thing is to focus on fun, educational, physical activity that can help your child’s education journey from home!