A new infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called â€œBurn to Learnâ€ draws attention to the strong connection that exists between physical activity and academic success. Regular physical activity (60 minutes a day is recommended) helps children earn higher grades, improves their focus and behavior, and positively impacts their attitudes. The following suggestions will enable you to incorporate more movement into your childâ€™s week.
1. Organized sports. If your kids have an interest in soccer, baseball, or other sport, consider signing them up in a local league. Team sports improve fitness levels, build a variety of athletic skills, and provide valuable opportunities to make new friends and build character and sportsmanship.
2. Early morning fitness. Many schools are shifting their physical education classes to the beginning of the school day to take advantage of the benefits of early morning movement. Research has shown that kids who exercise vigorously in the morning are better able to focus on their classwork throughout the day. If your school does not offer this option, consider waking up a little early on school days so that your child can climb on a jungle gym, go for a bike ride, or engage in some other type of vigorous play.
3. Walk to school. If this option is not possible and you drive your child to school, consider arriving a little early, parking several blocks away from campus, and walking from the car. In addition to the extra exercise you and your child will get, the two of you will also receive the added benefit of extra time together to talk and bond.
4. Weekend family movement time. Weekdays can often become so busy that we need to look to the weekends to find time to exercise with family members. Bike rides, nature walks, and games can quickly become highly anticipated family rituals that combine the benefits of movement with the joys of family time.
5. Theme days. â€œDouble-touch Tuesdaysâ€ (every time our bottom hits the chair when we sit, we push ourselves up to a standing position before sitting back down) and â€œUp and Back Wednesdaysâ€ (whenever we climb three stairs, we go back one step before moving forward) are two of the many novel ways in which we can incorporate specific movements on certain days to increase our level of physical activity.
6. Active learning strategies. When children are doing homework or studying for quizzes and tests, encourage them to look for opportunities to turn sedentary activities into movement activities. If your kids are using flash cards to practice math facts, for example, spread the cards throughout the room so they have to walk from one card to another. If your kids are studying their spelling words, they can recite each letter as they hit a handball against a wall or dribble a basketball. The more novel the strategy, the better.