Archive for March, 2016

11 Healthy Packed Lunches For School [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Eating right is important—especially for kids. Here are a handful of kid-friendly lunch recipes that are easy to prepare and pack away, as well as some key info concerning the kinds of foods a child should eat on a daily basis.

What Should My Child Eat?

It’s important to remember that, unlike an adult, a child’s body is still growing. So they need a broader, more varied diet in order to properly fuel their growth. Here are some of the key nutrients that belong in every child’s diet.

  • Protein: Protein is critical: a child needs protein in order to fuel the construction of valuable cells, fight off infections and viruses, carry oxygen through the blood stream and break down food.
  • Fats: Fats, like those found in meat and milk, are important. They’re a vital source of energy. However, fat intake should be limited, and balanced with other crucial nutrients.
  • Calcium: Calcium is crucial when it comes to the development of a child’s teeth and bones. It also helps to boost muscle and heart function. 
  • Carbohydrates: Children need carbs to properly fuel their bodies. They also use carbs to break down fats and protein, which they’ll use to repair and build vital tissues.
  • Vitamin A: A child’s body uses vitamin A for overall growth. Vitamin A is also useful for preventing infections, fighting off viruses and for keeping a child’s eyes healthy.
  • Vitamin C: This vitamin helps to boost the immune system and it also helps the body to heal injuries and repair blood vessels. Citrus fruits, strawberries and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C.
  • Iron: A child’s body uses iron to maintain blood flow and also build blood cells.
  • Folate: This vitamin helps with cell and overall body growth. Whole-grain cereals, lentils, asparagus, beans and spinach are rich in folate.
  • Fiber: Fiber helps to promote bowel regularity. Eating a diet rich in fiber when young can help to prevent certain diseases, like heart diseases, when the child reaches adulthood.


Quick and Easy Packed Lunches
Here are some easy-to-make recipes that feature tons of healthy (and tasty) ingredients:

  1. Chicken Noodle Soup: Canned chicken noodle soup can be tasty, but homemade soup is even better! You can make the soup on the stove or in a crockpot, and the ingredients are straightforward. You’ll need low-sodium chicken or veggie broth, chicken breast, veggies (carrots, celery, garlic, peas and tomatoes are a must) and noodles—preferably whole-grain.
  2. Burrito: Sandwiches, depending on the bread you use, can be overly rich in carbs and sugars. Opt for some carb-light tortillas or whole-grain wraps instead and make your kids some burritos for lunch. Add rice, black beans, chicken, low-fat cheese and fresh salsa to a tortilla—now you have a simple burrito that’s bound to be a winner in your house.
  3. Chicken Nuggets: Dice up some chicken, cover them with some breadcrumbs, and then bake the bite-sized bites. Twenty minutes later, you’ll have a nice healthy snack or part of a perfect school lunch.
  4. Homemade “Lunchables”: Mix things up by making some homemade “Lunchables.” Slice up protein (like turkey, sausage or baked chicken) and add some cheese (like low-fat mozzarella) to a container. In a separate container, add some crackers, a dip (like hummus) and include some veggies too. Throw in a healthy dessert like grapes or strawberries in a small Ziploc baggie to round out the meal.
  5. Turkey Salad Roll: diced turkey, almonds, seedless red grapes (halved), celery and mayo to a plastic container. Pack the container into a bag along with some citrus fruit (like oranges), a whole-wheat hot dog bun and a spoon so your child can add the salad to the bun whenever they’re ready.
  6. Turkey-Cheese Pita: This one’s easy! Make a pita-style sandwich using some pita bread, cream cheese, roasted turkey, cucumbers and baby spinach.
  7. BBQ Chicken and Sloppy Joes: Shred some rotisserie chicken, add chopped tomatoes, carrots. Then toss in some BBQ sauce, and mix everything together in a skillet over low to medium heat. Add some parsley and pack the mixture into a container. Add the container to a bag, and then also pack a whole-wheat bun, some fresh fruit and some chocolate chips for dessert.
  8. Chips and Dip: Did you know that you could make your own dip? Chop up some tomatoes, and then add some white onions, fresh cilantro and lime juice. Your child can snack on the dip with some flaxseed tortilla chips. You can also add some avocados and Greek yogurt to change up the texture of the dip.
  9. Tacos: Add shredded chicken and lettuce to a tortilla—pack this away in foil. Then mix together an avocado with lemon juice and shredded cheese. Place the avocado mixture into a sealed container, and place both the tortilla-in-foil and the container into a bag. When the child is ready to eat, they can combine the tortilla and the avocado mixture together.
  10. “Healthy” Fried Rice: Add scallions, carrots, peas, corn, water and soy sauce to a skillet and cook them with vegetable oil. Add brown rice and more water and soy sauce. Add a few more scallions, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts. Pack away in a sealed container.
  11. Breakfast Sandwich: Slice a bagel in half. Add cream cheese, bacon, a scrambled egg and two tomatoes slices to the bottom portion of a bagel. Add some more cream cheese to the top portion of the bagel, and then place the two portions together—now you have a protein-rich sandwich that’s perfect for breakfast or lunch!

healthy packed lunches infographic

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Sportime Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation in Physical Education

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Strengthens partnership with SPARK™ to offer one stop shop for evidence-based PE solutions 

 Sportime & SPARK to honor 2016 Teachers of the Year at the SHAPE America National Convention

GREENVILLE, Wis., March 23, 2016 – Sportime®, the award-winning physical activity equipment brand of School Specialty, Inc., is proud to commemorate 50 years serving physical education teachers, youth & recreation leaders and child care providers with the most advanced, research-based physical activity products and resources. In recognition of this milestone, Sportime continues to expand its offering and build its partnership with the SPARK™ (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) PE curriculum, launching the new “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront at

Various events throughout the year will highlight the brands’ remarkable achievements, including the exclusive, almost 30-year exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America National Teacher of the Year (TOY) program, which will take center stage at the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo to be held April 5-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 1966, Sportime has remained committed to enhancing the health and wellness of our nation’s youth by helping them move more. Through expert-developed physical education, fitness and sports equipment, Sportime has offered creative solutions inspired by PE teachers supporting children of all abilities. Over the years, Sportime has grown from its humble beginnings as a supplier of products to the niche summer camp market to becoming a leading provider of recreational and sports equipment to the larger K-12 physical education and physical activity market. The brand also has evolved from exclusively providing supplies and equipment to offering coordinated PE and health curricula through its alignment with SPARK.

Reflections on 50 Years of Sportime: A History of Helping Kids to Keep Moving

  • 1966: Sportime is founded by Larry Joseph as the Select Service & Supply Co. in Atlanta, GA to supply products and equipment to summer camps in the Northeast region of the U.S.
  • 1972: Company founder Larry Joseph and future Sportime President Peter Savitz set their sights on expanding market opportunities for products.
  • 1978: Transition to larger education market is completed with the launch of Sportime’s first catalog aimed at the K-12 PE community.
  • 1989: Sportime evolves to offer coordinated PE and health curricula in conjunction with PE supplies and equipment, through its partnership with SPARK — best known for its evidence-based curriculum and teacher training that ensure all students are actively engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during PE classes. Sportime is selected as the official supplier of equipment used in the original SPARK research study.
  • 1989: Sportime and SPARK are awarded exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes outstanding teacher performance and ability to motivate young students to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.
  • 1992: Sportime offers other specialized solutions to encourage physical and mental ability in children. The Company produces its first Abilitations catalog for physical and occupational therapists helping children with special needs.
  • 1999: School Specialty acquires Sportime.
  • 2001: Special needs offering expands with launch of the Integrations product line, which provides solutions for sensory integration challenges.
  • 2002: School Specialty acquires the licensing rights to become the exclusive distributor of SPARK.
  • 2006: School Specialty adds solutions in speech and language by acquiring the Speech Bin.
  • 2016: “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront is launched, providing a single source for everything needed to teach physical education and physical activity, and promote lifelong health and wellness.
  • 2016: SPARK and Sportime acquire rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized nutrition education program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

“This is truly a momentous occasion as we look back on 50 years of an incredible legacy in enhancing the well-being of our children through the power of physical activity, nutrition and education,” commented Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “We have made tremendous strides in developing and delivering research-based tools and curricula, and shaping best practices and standards that support and motivate our youth, the future producers and leaders, to pursue active and healthy lives. We have seen first-hand the transformative impact this has had on teachers, students and their families, including lower obesity rates which in turn have reduced the burden that communities carry in dealing with related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. I’m enormously proud of our talented team and all their contributions to building the ground-breaking and holistic platform that Sportime, SPARK and now Healthy Kids Challenge is today. We look ahead to many more years of growth and success.”


Don’t Miss Sportime Featuring SPARK at the 2016 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo!

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Sportime and SPARK will be hosting a number of insightful presentations, product demonstrations, and fun drawings and giveaways at this year’s SHAPE America National Convention, the meeting place for educators and students in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance. Included will be special sessions with past and current Teachers of the Year; the Local Education Agency (LEA) Coordinators; and the SPARK Innovation Team, including Principal Dr. Thom McKenzie. Sportime and SPARK are also proud partners of the Let’s Move! Active Schools interactive session. Attendees are invited to visit the Sportime featuring SPARK booth (#401) and engage with the team during the Heart Zones and Speedstacks demos, as well as participate in daily games for a chance to win an Apple Watch and limited edition Sportime gear. Sportime and SPARK are especially honored to continue MVP sponsorship of the Convention, including the Hall of Fame Banquet where the 2016 Teacher of the Year winners will be announced.

“Celebrating five decades of Sportime is testament to the quality and depth of the brand and the people behind it who have been developing innovative physical education equipment for years,” stated Doug Welles, Vice President, Specialty Businesses. “Physical education represents one of School Specialty’s key growth initiatives and with Sportime, SPARK and the addition of HKC, we are uniquely positioned to offer our customers a blend of equipment and curriculum that fosters physical well-being and health. We continue to drive innovation in our offerings, support our customers with the domain expertise they require, and align ourselves with the right industry partners to help students and those responsible for their wellness. We look forward to the coming year and building upon our successes.”

For more information on Sportime & SPARK, go to and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


11 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Stress

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Many adults think of childhood as a carefree and enjoyable part of their lives.  However, children can face stressors from many areas, such as schoolwork, social needs, sports/other activities, family issues, and even world news. Sometimes, if parents forget these stressors, children can feel alone and can have trouble meeting their needs. There are a few ways to help children cope with stressful events in their lives.


Think About What Might Be Causing Stress

Remember that children aren’t immune to stressful events happening around them. Children are frequently more sensitive to events and can blame themselves for things they have no responsibility for, such as a divorce or death of a loved one. Additionally, children’s emotional needs can change as they age. For example, physical issues they may not notice at age 5 can become worrisome at age 14.

Take Care of Physical Health Needs

Providing for children’s needs starts with their physical well-being. Children need to have healthy diets, shelter, and safe conditions to allow for better emotional growth. Additionally, pay attention to common physical complaints such as headaches and stomach issues, as these can be physical signs of emotional stress.

Be Sure They Are Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is crucial to giving children the rest they need to develop and grow. The sleep needs of children change as they age, and each child can vary in the amount of sleep they need. As children age, the amount of sleep they need ranges from 8 to 12 hours.

Talk to Your Children

Keep in mind that every child experiences events differently. Be sure to check in with them to see how they are handling events. Before an event happens, consider talking with them about what might happen. If your child is scared of a doctor’s appointment, talk about why people go to doctors and what will probably happen at this appointment. Instead of asking a vague, “what’s wrong?” consider asking about specific issues, such as their teacher or coach.

Treat Their Feelings as Valid

Many well-meaning parents tell children things such as, “don’t worry”, or, “it’ll be okay.” Statements such as these teach children they shouldn’t have these feelings, which can make them reluctant to seek help. Instead, acknowledging their feelings with phrases such as, “You seem worried. What’s happening?” or “That sounds frustrating” validates feelings and gives your children terms and words to express feelings.

Emphasize Learning Instead of Results

When children think of abilities as something “natural”, they can feel frustrated when they face difficulties in these areas. If they find themselves not excelling easily at activities, they can feel inadequate if they have to work at something or fearful of “looking bad” in front of people.  Remind them that even people who make things look easy need to work hard and they make mistakes sometimes.

Schedule “Down Time” and Unstructured Activities

Between school, sports, extracurricular activities, and other planned time, children can feel overbooked with no time to themselves. Children have been shown to exercise creativity and adaptability in unstructured play and time to relax. Try to think about your children’s down time when scheduling their activites.

Help Your Child Find Their Own Solutions

This doesn’t mean you solve problems for them. Instead, ask your children for ways they would approach a problem and help them see the positive and negative aspects of each solution. For example, if they are having a problem with friends, you can discuss different ways to approach the problem or practice how to discuss a problem with friends.

Consider Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can take many shapes, including acting out coping skills, using art, counting, breathing techniques, and physical play. Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to current feelings and experiences while creating stillness. There are a few different tools out there, but here is a script that can work for multiple children in different age groups.

Be Patient

Sometimes, children can feel embarrassed of their problems or feelings. It might take your child some time to be able to communicate feelings effectively or share a story. Simply listening to your children and letting them get to what they mean to say in their own time can help children really feel as if their needs matter.


Children of all ages feel stress in their lives from multiple sources. Parents are crucial in teaching children that while stress is a natural part of life, there are activities and thought processes to make it less nerve-racking. This process won’t be instant, but parents and children alike can benefit from thinking of how to manage stressful feelings.

Have you faced stress with your children? How did you help your child cope with these feelings?

National Health Through Fitness Day 2016

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

SPARK Executive Director, Dr. Kymm Ballard, participated in the 2016 SFIA National Health Through Fitness Day advocacy event on March 16, 2016 in Washington DC to support funding for physical education and health education in schools.

The group had a great time on the Hill at National Health Through Fitness Day! It was a great success, with leaders from the sports, fitness, and PE industries working together in calling attention to the importance of daily PE for all school children.

You can be an advocate for physical education & health too! Check out these free resources to help support health and physical activity in your community.

Here are a few highlights from the 2016 SFIA National Health Through Fitness Day!


SPARK Acquires Healthy Kids Challenge Program

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016


The world’s most researched physical education curriculum expands with integration of evidenced-based program for school nutrition and wellness.

hkc-logo2GREENVILLE, Wis., March 15, 2016 – School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education marketplace, today announced that its SPARK® physical education brand has acquired the rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

Founded eighteen years ago (1998) under the auspices of Cooking Light magazine and directorship of Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge has grown as an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to helping schools and community programs nationwide problem-solve barriers and create policies and practices in nutrition education. HKC has provided quality, research-based resources including training, healthy eating lesson plans, and activities that motivate wellness with interactive learning and goal setting. The program is aligned with the most current health education standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has built collaborative partnerships with leading organizations and professionals to serve hundreds of schools and thousands of children across the country. One of its many accolades is the Anita Owen Award for Most Innovative Educational Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American Dietetic Association).

Commenting on today’s news, Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK & Sportime, School Specialty Physical Education stated, “With physical activity and healthy eating going hand in hand, it has been an organic and instrumental partnership between SPARK and HKC since 2010. It seemed only natural that we combine forces in the areas of physical and nutrition education to further develop evidence-based wellness programs that help our children and families reduce their obesity risk and halt the development of serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have a costly impact on public health. The major appeal of the HKC curriculum has been its differentiated and validated approach and we praise the innovative and effective work of the HKC team for almost two decades. This new phase in the SPARK-HKC relationship greatly supports our mutual objectives to expand a curriculum-based physical education and nutrition/health portfolio with comprehensive solutions and services. We look forward to continued success!”

For more than 25 years SPARK has provided evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Each SPARK program is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction.

Ed Carr, School Specialty’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, stated, “The physical education category is one of our key growth channels and with the addition of Healthy Kids Challenge, we significantly enhance our collective offering. With the increased focus on health and wellness across schools throughout North America, it has become increasingly important to provide educators with the evidence-based and innovative training, equipment and support resources that advance their efforts in nurturing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students, and by extension communities. This also ties nicely with our expanding Health Care initiatives through SOAR Life Products. We will continue to focus our resources on growing our proprietary SPARK and Sportime brands, while leveraging the Healthy Kids Challenge offering, and look forward to welcoming the HKC program to the SSI family.”

“To be able to make a difference in the world is so humbling and gratifying, and to see the Healthy Kids Challenge grow and be nurtured by great partners like SPARK who share a similar philosophy of providing behavioral and environmental change programs and care as much about children as the HKC team does is exciting,” stated Director and Creator Vickie L. James, RD, LD. HKC stands beside the SPARK program and School Specialty in supporting schools and youth initiatives across the country to ‘Take the Challenge’ and to serve as key ‘KidLinks™’ in providing solutions for students and their families to eat healthy, move more and enjoy a balanced life. As my colleague Claudia Hohnbaum (Assistant Director) and I look towards retirement shortly, we can feel comfort in knowing that the HKC program is in excellent hands under the SPARK umbrella. We look forward to seeing the HKC work expand and reach even more kids and families!”

With the dissolving of the Healthy Kids Challenge nonprofit, SPARK & Sportime will assume ownership of all educational materials and programs. The HKC staff of registered and licensed dietitians will continue to serve as training, mentorship and coaching resources for SPARK.

About the SPARK Programs

SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. Through its SSI Guardian subsidiary, the Company is also committed to school, healthcare and corporate workplace safety by offering the highest quality curriculum, training and safety and security products. Finally, through its SOAR Life Products brand, the Company offers thousands of products that sharpen cognitive skills and build physical and mental strength in fun and creative ways. From childhood through adulthood, they help individuals live life to the fullest – engaged, happy and well.  SOAR Life Products is a customized offering for hospitals, long-term care, therapeutic facilities, home care, surgery centers, day care centers, physician offices, and clinics. For more information about School Specialty, visit


Connect with School Specialty on social media; search School Specialty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For Ideas and resources, educational trends and inspiration for today’s educators – visit the Schoolyard blog.

How to Find the Right After School Activities For Your Child

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Studies frequently show that children involved in after school activities experience a wide-range of social and developmental benefits. For instance, KidsHealth reports that after school activities could help children to achieve better grades and higher school attendance. What’s more, introducing advantageous hobbies into your child’s routine can help them to learn the value of time management, and teach them how to overcome the difficult emotions involved with winning and losing. In other words, children may learn the skills they need to cope in the real world, in their after school classes.

after school activities

Of course, with countless different after school activities to choose from, finding the perfect fit for your child can be a complicated task. At a basic level, it means understanding the temperament, interests, and schedule of your child. However, keep in mind that regardless of their level of interest, different activities may require some trial and error before you find the ideal option. Following, we’ll cover some tips that could help you enroll your child into an activity that builds their skills, ignites their passions, and nourishes their growth.

1. Start Slowly

It can be tempting to enroll a child into numerous activities at once. After all, this way, if they want to drop one option, they’ve still got plenty of other classes to choose from. However, it’s often much better to start off slowly, introducing your youngster to a single activity and seeing how they react.

Too many activities at once, and your child may feel stressed, and exhausted, causing them to withdraw from friends and family. Too few activities, and your child will feel bored, irritable and under stimulated. Finding the right balance between too much and too little will be a personalized journey for yourself and your child, as some are capable of more activities than others.

2. Consider Your Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Remember that no two children are the same — each has different needs, interests, and skills that will all become crucial in choosing the correct after school activity. Take the time to think about the areas in which your child excels, and the places where they may struggle, then create a list of after school options based on this information.

During this time, try to make sure that you don’t impose your own interests and dreams onto your child. Just because you always wanted to be a star footballer doesn’t mean your son or daughter will feel the same way. Keep in mind that it’s worth considering not only your child’s current interests, but their future goals too. The right after school activities can help to give your children crucial life skills that will enrich their lives for years.

3. Ask About Your Child’s Interests

If you’re having trouble deciding which activities will best stimulate and engage your child — ask them what they enjoy doing, or which skills they’d like to build upon. When making a short list of activities to consider, don’t be afraid to involve your child in the brainstorming process — they may surprise you with ideas you would never have thought of alone.

Make sure that you’re clear with your children about the commitment involved in choosing an after school program — particularly if they’re interested in options that have enrollment fees or costs for equipment.

4.  Consider Your Child’s Temperament

Before you enroll your child in group sports and activities, you may need to think about their temperament. For example, some children naturally get along well with others, while others prefer to spend time in their own company.

If a child who prefers engaging in structured play never has time to be alone, they may get bored and frustrated very quickly. On the other hand, keep in mind that introducing your child to occasional interaction with other children could help to boost their confidence in social situations, and improve their group skills.

5. Think about Your Child’s Schedule – and Your Own

Finally, when choosing an after-school activity, make sure you consider the time it runs, as there’s little point in enrolling your child to a class you won’t be available to get them to.

At the same time, think about your child’s schedule — as children of certain ages will have different commitments that too many after school activities could impact.

Encourage Your Child – No Matter What

Remember, even if your child is excited to join an after school team at first, there’s always a chance that they could lose interest, or want to quit. Although children should be encouraged to stick to an activity for a reasonable amount of time — to ensure they don’t simply need time to get used to it, your child should also feel free to leave a group they genuinely don’t enjoy. As mentioned before, finding the perfect after school activity may involve some experimentation.

How did you choose extracurricular activities for your children? What extracurricular activities do your kids love most?

Tips for Encouraging Positive Behavior in Children

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Educators have a number of important roles to play within a student’s life — from providing encouragement, to teaching them about the world. One of the most challenging things any teacher will have to do is figure out the right ways to encourage positive behavior in their students, and reduce bad behavior.

positive behavior

Though your idea of what counts as “positive” behavior may change according to your cultural background and personal beliefs — the idea should be to encourage behavior that will help your students to function well as a responsible, confident, and productive adult.

Following, we will discuss just some of the tips that you can use to address challenging behavior, and promote beneficial characteristics in your students as they grow and develop throughout their lives.

1. Set Clear Boundaries and Limits

You can’t expect your students to be well-behaved unless you clarify exactly what you expect from them. Lay the groundwork as early as possible by establishing rules that children must follow, and make sure your students understand what you’re asking for. Remember that you may have to go over these rules frequently in order for your students to come to terms with them — and for young children, it may be helpful to use picture diagrams as a learning guide.

In order for the rules to carry weight, breaking them should lead to consequences that are both fair, and logical. For instance, if the children fight over a single toy, take the toy away from both of them. In simple terms, the punishment should fit the crime — but if you can’t think of a logical consequence, the next step may be to remove certain privileges.

2. Treat Children as Individuals — Listen to Them

It may seem obvious, but every child is different, and as such they have specific strengths and weaknesses, dislikes and likes. By identifying the things that are unique about each child early on, you can help to reduce bad behavior through mutual understanding.

Take the time to discuss feelings with your students — how they feel when they are asked to do certain things, and how you feel when you see them acting badly. Discussing issues with children, and listening to their concerns will help to encourage empathy in your students and create understanding.

3. Provide a Positive Role Model

Although there are likely to be different rules in your classroom for yourself, and your students, treating others poorly, showing bad manners, or failing to follow your own simple rules shows inconsistency to students that could confuse them.

Your students will act how you act, so it’s crucial to lead by example in every aspect of life. Show your charges how to treat others with respect by practicing good manners yourself. If you want students to be tidier, make sure that you tidy up after yourself too. The more you show the behaviors you want them to adapt, the more they will consider those behaviors to be natural.

4. Deliver the Appropriate Amount of Attention

Children crave attention, and if good behavior isn’t getting them the spotlight they’re looking for, then they’re likely to misbehave just to get a reaction. On the other hand, if you provide enough positive attention to students in periods when they show you good behavior, then they will be less likely to act out.

5. Cool Down and Convey the Right Message

Finally, if your students are being difficult, cool down before you address them, as screaming and shouting is unlikely to have a good impact. Rather than raising your voice when students misbehaves, outline how they have shown bad behavior, and inform them of the consequences involved with continuing to break the rules.

Try to take advantage of teachable moments whenever possible, and inform students of how their good or bad behavior affects both them, and you. The more you can do to help students understand that your rules are for their own good, the more they will appreciate the guidelines you set.

Positive Behavior Takes Time

Remember, encouraging positive behavior is a long and on-going battle that you’re going to have to work hard at. However, using the previous tips could help you to not only improve your student’s attitude, but maximize your impact as an educator.

The Benefits of Participation in After School Activities

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

The benefits of after school activities for children are wide and varied, ranging from physical benefits due to the promotion of increased activity, to psychological and social advantages. Scientific research proves that encouraging children to engage in activities after school could aid their development.

after school activities

Experts in child advancement suggest that participation in extracurricular activities on a regular basis is the best way to help children develop their individual personality, cut down on emotional stress, and enhance social or academic skills that could benefit them in the future. Psychologists even recommend after school activities as the preferred choice over confidence-building classes.

Boosting Academic Performance

Every leading study regarding the impact of extracurricular activities on child development shows that academic grades, study habits, and school-based behavior all improve when children attend regular after school clubs and team sports. After all, if a child learns something new in an afterschool activity, it could boost their understanding of school subjects — even if that activity doesn’t relate directly to classwork. Discovering that they have a talent for something can give children a new source of confidence or passion that translates into their behavior at school.

According to research, youths who frequently participate in after school activities are more likely to show greater levels of attention in class, be more engaged in school, and are less likely to develop an inclination for violent or problem behavior. What’s more, some extracurricular activities provide students with the facilities and time to pursue interests that they may not be able to pursue at school.

Improving Life and Social Skills

Regardless of whether they’re establishing new relationships, or building upon existing friendships, after school activities provide an ideal environment in which to nurture social skills and confidence. Numerous extracurricular activities work to teach children the value of working as a team to achieve a mutual goal — a skill that will benefit them in their future occupation.

Similarly, engaging with new people in a productive environment helps to strengthen independence and confidence in children. The more they explore their abilities within a new environment, the more children can build a sense of their own character, and even develop crucial leadership skills. By working with others outside of a classroom setting, youths begin to learn the value of improvisation, sharing ideas, and offering support to peers in challenging circumstances.

Creating Safer, Happier Children

After school activities offer a positive environment in which children can grow and thrive when parents are working and unable to make it home for right after school. Many adults today stay at work after the school day has ended. After school activities remove the temptation to sit in front of a television set.

What’s more, a number of after school activities promote emotional wellbeing by allowing children to work off excess energy, relax their minds, and overcome the stress associated with school life. While sports help to remove some of the tension that could have built during the day, academic clubs help to reduce the stress associated with preparing for tests by offering extra assistance and support.

Promoting Healthy Hobbies

Finally, children with a regular hobby are likely to spend less static time glued to a smartphone or screen. Not only does the time spent within a club encourage your child to remain active and away from the sofa, but the interests that they develop during those clubs will prompt them to spend more time practicing skills and pursuing their passions.

In fact, the Afterschool Alliance has conducted research into the impact of extracurricular activities on child health, and found that they are essential in promoting a healthier lifestyle. Studies of after school programs have shown that obesity levels are often much lower in program participants, with only 21% of children suffering from weight problems compared to 33% for non-participants.

Encouraging a Brighter Future

The skills and habits a child learns during his or her school years help to shape the kind of future they will lead as an adult. As a result, after school activities that promote everything from healthy-living habits, to leadership skills, good time-management, and better social or academic performance have plenty of advantages to offer.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t push children to over-do it when it comes to after school activities. It’s better for youths to choose something that they really enjoy doing and stick to it, than attempt numerous different activities that quickly become overwhelming, and may detract from their ability to concentrate on school work.