For most of your child’s school day, they have to sit down and listen to their teacher. A good education has countless merits, so you want them to sit, listen and learn. However, you know the importance of physical activity for children too — not only do they need to burn off restless energy, but doing so can greatly improve their health as well. And improving physical fitness now sets the groundwork for a healthy future. Stronger muscles, improved endurance and aerobic fitness will stay with kids who engage in physical activity from an early age.
Of course, you can encourage such activity at home, but you want to make sure your child gets a bit of action at school too. Here’s how to ensure they get a break to stretch their legs.
1. Talk to the Teachers
Firstly, your child’s teacher can tell you how much time they spend on their feet during the school week. Find out when they have physical education classes and for how long. Apart from that, the teacher can let you know how long recess is and what your child tends to do during that outside time.
You might also want to chat with the school gym teacher. They can give you a better idea of what your child gets up to in gym class. The sessions might have a routine — stretching and warm-ups that lead into sports training, for instance. Find out how much your son or daughter participates as well. If they’re often choosing to sit on the bench, they might need to do more exercise after school.
On that note, keep in mind that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children get one hour of physical activity every day. If you find that your little one doesn’t get enough exercise at recess or in gym class, supplement the time with after-school activities.
2. Be an Example
It’s no secret that children often emulate their parents’ behaviors. If they see you avoiding exercise, they’re likely to follow suit. Instead, be a good example to your child. Be vocal about your physical fitness pursuits and how much you enjoy them. Seeing you on your feet will inspire your kiddo to get on theirs. Teachers can step into a similar role, and it’s one of the best ways to promote physical activity in schools. Together, you can both motivate your child to get up and get going.
3. Find Activities Your Little One Enjoys
Perhaps your child needs a bit more physical activity than what they get from gym class and recess. If so, enlist them in an activity that gets them moving with enthusiasm. The school itself might have afternoon intramural leagues — hone in on the sport(s) your little one enjoys so that they look forward to going. You can also find similar activities at local gyms and churches. Or, consider signing your kid up for lessons to learn a physical skill, such as swimming, dance or karate.
Don’t do any of this without finding out your child’s interests. They won’t want to go or participate if you enlist them in an activity they don’t like. But something that excites them? That’s the best way to get them moving.
4. Schedule a Play Date
Playing outside is more fun with a friend — your child will certainly agree with that statement. Reach out to other parents to set up playdates for both of your kids. You can take them to a local playground and get them moving that way. Alternatively, sign them up for an after-school activity to help them feel more comfortable thanks to the buddy by their side.
You can also simply let them loose in the backyard or playroom of your home and see what they get up to. Without access to electronic toys, they’ll probably get on their feet and play together in no time.
5. Plan Family Outings Too
As previously mentioned, you should lead by example when it comes to physical fitness. Make it your mission to plan family activities that take you outside. It can be as simple as setting your timer and taking a walk. Kids with a competitive spirit will love to race against time and see how far they can go in a half-hour’s time.
Of course, you can get more creative than that. Perhaps you can orchestrate an outdoor scavenger hunt, in which your child has to find pine cones, acorns, leaves and other natural materials. Or, buy a kite and head to an open field to run it and fly it in the sky. Not only will you improve your child’s physical fitness, but you’ll also make memories because you’re doing it together. As a parent, you already know there’s nothing better.
Get Moving Today
With very little effort, you can make sure your child gets the exercise they need to stay healthy and happy. Follow the above steps to ensure you’re both content with the physical activities in which your kiddo participates. The best news is that no matter what you choose, you’ll be setting your little one on a path to live healthily for years to come. Get everyone moving today and feel better tomorrow!