Getting Kids to Move

Healthy bodies perform better in school.  They are better able to focus.  It increases long term memory capabilities.  It increases alertness and helps children think more clearly.  Researchers have also found that there is a strong relationship between academic achievement and fitness scores.  We all know that exercise is good for everyone.  So what’s the problem?

Today schools are very focused on academic achievement.  Grades determine funding for schools and teachers—they also determine scholarships.  In my day (yes, I really am that old!), you had PE a few times per week.  The amount of school minutes in an average week devoted to exercise currently has decreased to accommodate increased educational classes.  We played ball at recess.  We also were shoved outside on non-school days and told not to return until dinner time.  We played ball and rode our bikes.  Things have changed.  Parents are afraid to let their kids play outside for fear of abduction.   Statistics show that the chances of abduction have NOT increased at all since I was a kid.  The amounts of press these receive have.  The press has helped with the perceived notion that the problem has gotten worse.  Also, many new subdivisions do not have sidewalks to roller-skate of ride on.  Kids live farther away from school and get rides—only a small percentage of students walk or ride to school now.  The reasons why kids get less exercise could fill a book.  The same reasons are contributing to our weight problems.

So—many wise teachers have discovered that they can incorporate exercise into their school routine in the classroom.  Short bouts of exercise decrease the amount of wiggles and disruptive behavior, and help the students to focus better.  It doesn’t have to be involved or long—a few minutes will be enough to get back to classroom activities.  St. Bernard Catholic School in Omaha, NE has integrated exercise into their normal classroomInside exercise activities.  The principle has given each teacher a ring of cards with short exercise ideas on them.  Tossing a ball while studying spelling words, rolling a dice to see how many jumping jacks a class could do, or doing the chicken dance.  These activities only take a few minutes—but have really done a lot to get the kids minds refocused on their work—and the students love it!  Who wouldn’t like to do the chicken dance in the middle of a REALLY long board meeting!?  It only takes one person to get the ball rolling (sorry—no pun intended!) in your school—so get started today.  It is never too late!

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2 Responses to "Getting Kids to Move"

  1. Audra Losey, MS, RD

    Well put!

  2. Love these suggestions! Imagine if every school across America did just 5 to 10 minutes of movement per day? Getting kids to move is a challenge but it can be done! My kids complain about having to walk to church or the the grocery store but we just do it!