Yoga isn’t just for grown ups anymore. It serves as another fun, physical activity for kids and it has mental and physical benefits. Check out some of these yoga poses in this infographic!
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Yoga isn’t just for grown ups anymore. It serves as another fun, physical activity for kids and it has mental and physical benefits. Check out some of these yoga poses in this infographic!
It is no secret that children today lead more sedentary lives than their parents and grandparents did. Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past three decades and screen time is at a record high between television, computers, tablets, video games, and smartphones. While it seems that the days of playing outside and simply “being a kid” are fading away, it’s not too late to turn the ship around. By introducing your kids to exercise routines and showing them how fun being active is, you can make a big difference.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 1 hour per day of physical activity for children and adolescents. That time frame should include mainly aerobic activity, but muscle and bone strengthening exercise is also very important for growing bodies.
Sixty minutes per day is not difficult to achieve if you look for smaller time frames to incorporate activities, like walking to school or participating in organized sports a few days per week. The key is to pick age-appropriate activities that interest your kids so that they will look forward to the activity and form a positive opinion of healthy fitness pursuits.
Not all exercise is appropriate for all ages and some is more beneficial to certain age groups than others. Take a look at what should be the focus of an exercise routine for kids by age:
Working with the smallest of kids to develop motor skills, like crawling, walking, and pulling up to a standing position is enough activity. This is also an important bonding time for parents and babies, so getting down on the floor and playing with infants is beneficial in physical and psychological ways.
A good 90 minutes of daily physical activity is not only helpful for a toddler’s health but benefits parents by providing a release for all of that extra energy. Toddlers learn most in play environments, so structuring just 30 minutes per day of planned physical activity is enough, as long as you provide active outlets for free, creative exploration on the part of the toddler.
This group of kids requires the most amount of physical activity of all the age groups, at 2 hours. They still need an hour of unstructured, creative play but are physically able to handle another hour of planned activity too. Most preschools do have some built-in physical activity, but parents should still find ways to incorporate the difference at home.
As recess times at school decline, it is important that parents find at least 1 hour per day for their kids to exercise. Ideally this exercise should last at least 15 minutes at a time to have full effect. As children grow, they are also capable of doing some independent fitness activities that parents should encourage. Pay attention and listen to your children’s interests, and support whatever physical activity they love the most. Whether they want to play sports, take dance classes, or just jog around the neighborhood every day, as kids get older they need some independence when it comes to staying fit.
Every child will want to sit down and watch television from time to time or play a computer or tablet game. This is fine as long as it does not occur in excess. The CDC recommends that children under the age of 5 never remain inactive for less than an hour and that school age kids never remain inactive for more than 2 hours at a time—apart from nap and bedtime, of course.
The best way to get your kids excited about exercise is to set the example. Find family activities that you can all do together and cheer each other on at individual events, too.
Millions of people will make resolutions when the New Year rolls around, and millions of those resolutions will have to do with living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Keeping those resolutions is challenging, but by making resolutions as a family, you have a built-in support group that encourages each other to reach fitness goals throughout the year.
Take a look at a few ways your family can resolve to be more fit in the coming year and beyond.
Sign up for an upcoming event, like a short road race or obstacle course challenge as a family unit. Schedule training sessions together, set individual goals, and cheer each other on in the process.
Park with a Purpose
Every time you’re out and about, reconsider the urge to find the closest possible parking spot. Deliberately park your car further away than normal. Over the course of a year, all of those additional steps will really add up. Plus, your heart will appreciate a reduction in stress that comes with navigating crowded areas and battling with other drivers for parking spots.
Try Something New
Pick a new sport or activity to try out as a family or resolve to try something new each month of the year. For extra family fun and participation, rotate who gets to choose each new month’s activity.
Resolve to spend more time in nature. Take family walks after dinner or frequent a neighborhood park once per week. Check out your city’s Department of Parks and Recreation website to find parks and open spaces that are open to the public. You’ll probably find a lot more than you knew existed, including a few family favorites to visit regularly. There’s no denying the benefits nature has on our well-being!
Set limits on electronic device use, including watching television. Schedule times to put all phones, computers, and tablets away and fill that space with active pursuits—even cleaning the house—instead.
Plan an Active Vacation
When you are trying to decide where your next family getaway should be, take a look at what recreational opportunities you can fit in. Are there trails to hike? Canoeing options? Downhill skiing or water sport activities? Let these activities guide the planning process and build them into your itinerary.
Whenever possible, walk to your destination. When you get there, find ways to add even more steps to the experience. This can include everyday activities, like going to school or work, and can also mean taking walks for the sole purpose of fitness. Buy everyone a pedometer or activity tracker and keep track of your steps together on a family chart.
Plant a Garden
Not only will you have fresh, healthy foods to place on your dinner table, but you will be active in the garden through the building, planting, and harvesting process. Teach your kids that not all foods come prepackaged at the grocery store and that some of the tastiest ingredients can be grown right at home.
Pencil It In
Don’t just say you will be more active; actually write it on the schedule alongside other family obligations. Having it in print will make you more accountable to uphold your New Year’s resolutions to keep moving as a family.
Being more active as a family is the best New Year’s resolution you can make any year. Make this year one that brings your family better health and fitness outcomes, and resolve to reach your goals together.
For National Physical Education Week, we’re taking a deeper look into a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program and resources available to help reach the goal of 60 minutes of MVPA a day.
How much activity and why?
It seems you can’t look through a magazine or watch a news program without hearing about the importance of physical activity (PA) and its role in overall health. There’s nothing better for controlling weight, reducing risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers; not to mention PA’s role in increasing muscle strength and bone density, improving attention in class, and so much more. PA is the “wonder drug” of champions (literally!).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition all recommend 60 minutes of physical activity for children ages 6-17. With that dosage kids will be healthier, happier, leaner, and have a much better chance of living longer. Sixty minutes seems to be the “magic” number and it should consist mostly of aerobic activities in the moderate to vigorous intensity level range (MVPA), such as brisk walking, running, swimming, etc., as well as 3 days/week of muscular strengthening like gymnastics and calisthenics. So, how on earth are today’s busy kids supposed to accumulate 60 minutes of MVPA most days?
Physical Education (PE) is a great start!
Let’s say your school has a fabulous, quality physical education program with daily PE for all students. They have PE for 30+ minutes (for elementary) and 45+ minutes (for MS/HS) each day and they are engaged in MVPA for 50% of class time — always! It’s an ideal program all around. Sounds great, right? It is – yet it’s also VERY rare.
Are YOUR students reaching the magic dosage of 60 minutes on most days with PE alone? If not, they’ll need to find other physical activity opportunities throughout the day if they’re going to achieve their 60 minute goal.
How might you supplement student Physical Activity (PA)?
Viable options include before and after school programs, recess, activity during other academic classes, on-site intramurals, as well as myriad activities off campus after school. Programs such as these are components of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). They include quality PE as the foundation, as well as PA opportunities before, during, and after school, staff involvement, and family and community engagement.* The whole package helps keep our children active and fit. Like SPARK Principal Thom McKenzie likes to say, “It takes a village to raise an active child.”
Teaming up for PA!
No one person or entity is responsible for our kids’ health. When everyone does their part and students are supported with PA choices in all sorts of environments, they are much more likely to participate and achieve their 60 minutes or more. And every type of activity “counts” towards the 60 (e.g., walking to school, climbing on the jungle gym, having activity breaks during class, dancing in PE, playing tag at recess, running in a running club, playing intramurals after school).You want your kids to have so many opportunities they can’t help but find activities they love to do and to do them often!
What resources are available?
Let’s Move! Active Schools provides free and low-cost resources to help schools incorporate physical activity before, during, and after school for at least 60 minutes a day. SPARK is an official supporting organization of Let’s Move! Active Schools and encourages schools to sign up to be an Active School. Learn more here.
How can SPARK help you and your students reach the 60 minute goal?
Quality Physical Education – Sadly, many PE programs are not active enough – ironic right? Yet studies show students may spend a good chunk of class time waiting their turn for a chance just to touch the equipment (as in relays) or sitting on the sidelines because they got “out” (elimination games) or simply waiting for someone to pass the ball to them (large-group games). PE classes full of these practices often engage students in MVPA for only a short amount of time. SPARK PE (K-2, 3-6, MS, and HS) offers teachers quality PE programs that in turn provide students many opportunities to participate and practice skills. Research shows SPARK PE engages students in MVPA at least 50% of class time, addresses National Standards, aligns assessment with instruction, and regularly promotes out-of-class physical activity. Students become more active and more skilled when they have SPARK PE. When taught daily, students can receive nearly half of their recommended minutes of PA with SPARK PE alone!
During academic classes – Because students often sit for hours at a time during classes, activity breaks are a must! They help not only by adding minutes of PA, but they have been shown to enhance academic performance. The SPARKabc’s program provides numerous activities to be used as breaks during classroom time as well as activities which integrate academic topics to help “anchor” learning and make it more active and fun. SPARK provides sample SPARKabc’s lessons to give you a taste of what our ASAP movement breaks and academically focused activities look like. They’re easy to teach, easy to learn, fun and effective. SPARK PE (K-2 and 3-6) programs also include multiple limited space activities that classroom teachers can use as activity breaks throughout the day.
During Recess – Recess has potential to be either very active or very sedentary. Depending upon students’ preferences, they might choose to play an active soccer or basketball game or to sit and chat with a friend while eating their snacks. Even if they join what appears to be an active game, they may spend most of their time waiting in line for their turn at wall ball, tetherball, kickback, 2-touch, etc. Frankly, they may get most of their activity jumping up and down cheering for the kids who are playing! Both SPARK K-2 and 3-6 PE programs include Recess Activities sections with ideas for inclusive, enjoyable, and ACTIVE games. SPARKabc’s also provides resources for recess staff looking to improve activity opportunities for all elementary age students. Here’s a sample recess activity that can be played as is, or modified to match your students and setting. Try it and tell us what you think!
Before and After School – Students who attend before and/or after school programs can receive a large percentage of their daily MVPA during structured and/or non-structured activities. Again, as in recess, activities need to be structured in such a way to increase activity levels and to have positive effects. There are many issues to consider with running a quality program that addresses a wide range of ages, group-sizes and skill levels, commonly have a lack of equipment and limited space, as well as high staff-to-student ratios. SPARK’s After School program (which actually targets all out-of-school PA programs, not just those done after school) has been found effective in increasing PA for children and adolescents ages 5-14. It has hundreds of suggestions for addressing many of the concerns typically encountered in these types of programs.
At the end of the day, students CAN reach the goal of 60 minutes or more of MVPA. It’s a matter of structuring your environment to encourage PA. By providing safe places to play, programs that promote movement throughout the day, equipment to complement those programs, and trained staff to lead them, your students will have met or exceeded the 60 min. goal for now, as well as learned the skills to continue to do so for a lifetime!
*(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs: A Guide for Schools. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013)
Free SPARK webinar!
Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs
Resources for Integrating Physical Activity Throughout the School Day
May 7, 2014 @ 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) – Register Here
by Paul Rosengard
Spring is a time for renewal, and as the green leaves emerge and the weather improves we’re more motivated to be active outdoors. So how do we press “Play” again after a long winter on “Pause?” Here are 5 tips I hope you’ll find helpful:
1. Goal Setting: If you are among the many millions of people who are currently doing very little or nothing in terms of weekly physical activity, you’ll likely benefit from setting a few goals. Make an appointment with yourself and schedule movement into your life. You wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment right? So don’t miss that 15 min. you’ve set aside to walk around the block and back. Every little bit counts – in fact studies have shown that being active in three, 10-minute increments provides nearly the same health benefits as a 30 min. session.
Goal setting should first involve specific days and times for activity. Write it in your calendar; for example: Wed. from noon-12:15. Once you have a specific day and time in mind, write down what you plan to do. Walk, ride a bike, swim, weight train, garden! All movement is good movement and it all counts. As you become consistent – moving a little (10 min.) to a lot (60 min.) almost every day of the week, then consider goals to increase your intensity over time so your heart rate is elevated (Are you breathing harder? Can you feel your heart beating faster?) during some of your activity sessions. Goals should be challenging, specific, and realistic. Can you set a physical activity goal that meets those parameters? Give it a try!
2. Start slowly: Everyone, young and old, should begin an activity program slowly, allowing our body’s time to acclimate to the change in frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise (FITT principle). For example, 6 months ago you were running 4-5 miles outside. Then, winter arrived and you were confined to the great indoors, now using a treadmill or elliptical for your cardio workout. Fast forward to Spring — you don’t want to throw open the door and hit the dusty trail! Instead, re-start your running program slowly. A good rule of thumb (or in this case, foot) is to begin at about 25%. If you were doing an hour on the treadmill, try jogging for 15 min. – after an appropriate warm-up of course. Gradually add 5 min. each run (as long as you’re feeling good and your body is cooperating) until you’re at or near the level you were before.
3. Cross-Train: A lot of people lock in to the one thing they do, and their bodies lock in right with them. Certainly, we need to do cardio for heart health and resistance training for skeletal health and muscle exertion. So is a run every 2nd or 3rd day and a weight-training workout 2-3x a week the ideal? It’s DARN great and if you’re doing it congrats! And, let’s also think variety. Mix up your cardio, different running routes (more hills, less hills) and different paces (how about some sprints once a week?). If you’re in a health club or gym pushing weight on machines around, how bout mixing in some free weight exercises? Try a TRX system? Do a day of just body weight/resistance exercises? It’s easy to get into a rut and keep repeating the same exercises at the same weight, same number of repetitions, in the same sequence. Try not doing the same workout twice! Your body will respond differently too. And don’t forget Yoga, Pilates, Body Pump and Zumba classes. Videos available to check out at a library close to you too! We have so many different and fun ways to be active and stay healthy and fit. Viva la difference!
4. Social Support: While some people are motivated and able to stay consistent with their exercise regimens, most of us benefit from being active with a friend. If you’re one of these folks, recruit a workout buddy! When there’s someone else counting on you to carpool to a health club, or meet you at a trail for a jog, or rendezvous at a park to shoot some baskets or play tennis or just a game of catch, there’s a much better chance you won’t cancel your activity time. Plus, you’ll have someone to give you feedback, spot you when you’re bench pressing, and maybe even encouraging you to try something new and different.
5. Have Fun! As you become more active more opportunities will open up for you. When was the last time (if ever) you played table tennis? Badminton? Pickleball? These and other activities might be offered at a recreation center not far away. Check out their schedules and see if there’s a class or league you can participate in and if it looks interesting and fun, sign up! If you’re a member of a health club or gym, when was the last time you looked at their class schedule? What about that spinning class you walk past from time to time? Whatever you do to move, we know that if it’s fun you’ll want to do it more often.
I hope these 5 tips were helpful and you’ll become healthier and happier by making physical activity happen in your life!
Meeting CCSS mandates without selling out as a physical educator
By Aaron Hart – SPARK Development Director
@nyaaronhart (on Twitter)
The Common Core wave has been crashing on the shores of physical education for a while now. Regardless of the pros and cons of this movement, many of us are faced with the reality and requirement of alignment. PE specialists have been cautiously studying the standards with a focus on maintaining what we believe is truly important – creating a high MVPA environment in which students develop the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity.
Over the next 4 months, leading up to my Common Core presentation at the 2014 Physical Education & Wellness Summit, I’ll be sharing bi-weekly tips for physical educators working to meet their district CCSS mandates.
Please keep in mind that every state and district approaches the Common Core in a unique (and often evolving) way. The content provided here offers what we believe to be universal for physical education. However, it’s important to consider the specific implementation requirements and guidelines that your district has adopted.
This week’s tip: Focus on Depth of Physical Education Knowledge.
You may have heard the term “Depth of Knowledge” (DOK) in relation to the Common Core. Like most thing we’re seeing in the Common Core – DOK is nothing new. It was developed in 1997 by an educational researcher named Norman Web and refers to the level of understanding needed to answer a related assessment question/problem. Here you go…
Level 1) Recall and Reproduction
Level 2) Skills and Concepts
Level 3) Short-term Strategic Thinking
Level 4) Extended Thinking
These levels apply across subject area and certainly apply to physical education skills and concepts. The goal is to move students through the levels, providing opportunities for them to demonstrate their understanding. Let’s try an example.
Focusing on CCSS in Literacy, we want our students to be able to:
What does this mean? It means that it’s important to teach our students the academic language and vocabulary of physical education.
Here’s a perfect vocabulary word to use as an example: Fitness
Let’s move “Fitness” across the DOK levels using National PE Outcomes.
This example helps clarify the developmental progression while aligning a fundamental vocabulary word with both the CCSS as well as National PE Standards. The Grade 7 PE outcome is listed in the Level 4 bullet above. For your reference, here’s the middle school CCSS:
As we look to develop students into “College and Career Ready” individuals, who are fit and focused for the future, it seems as if “overcoming and eliminating barriers to fitness” is a 21st Century Skill. (Insert the mountain of data showing the relationship between personal health and productivity in the work place.)
To wrap up this entry in SPARK’s Common Core Survival Guide here’s a short PDF packet of resources focused on our topic. Here’s what’s included and why:
Thanks for reading! Check back in two weeks for more tips and resources.
Part 2 of 2
By BJ Williston
SPARK K-12 Trainer & Curriculum Developer
Click Here to read Part 1 of this article.
After assessing your current recess program with the School Recess Report Card in the SPARK Recess Handbook (included in the SPARKabc’s program), prioritize the components targeted for improvement. Priority goes to the components with the lowest scores on the report card.
It is then time to implement!
The SPARK Recess Program includes all sorts of components to improve your school’s recess.
Divide your recess environment into 4 main activity areas:
There should also be space and resources for those students who aren’t able to participate due to illness/injury/etc.
It is suggested that adults be the Recess Supervisors responsible for the overall procedures, set-up, and safety. Student Game Leaders work with the Supervisors to distribute and collect equipment, set up activity areas, and serve as a liaison to communicate student concerns. Once the program is up and running, students arrive at recess, choose from a variety of activities and follow recess expectations.
Both Supervisors and Game Leaders promote Character Matters, a social skills development program designed to identify, reinforce, and assess character education concepts in physical activity settings like PE and recess. Concepts such as cooperation, respect, concern, leadership, and fair play are introduced at the beginning of the school year in all SPARK PE programs (K-12) and SPARK After School.
SPARK’s Recess Program offers a variety of activities for students to choose from. Individual/Partner activities include 2 and 4-Square, Hoop Stations, Jump Rope Stations, and Flying Disc Golf. Group games include 3-Catch and All-Run Kickball.
Recess Supervisors keep the program going by completing monthly Recess Action Plans, maintaining equipment, encouraging enthusiasm among the Student Game Leaders, and staying on top of the needs of the program. Details for this maintenance are laid out in the Recess Handbook.
SPARKabc’s Recess Program can help your school get it all together to achieve all the benefits a fabulous recess program can bring!
Advocate for Recess
Want to advocate for better recess policies at your school? Take these 5 steps:
For more information on the SPARKabc’s Program and the SPARK Recess Program, go to www.sparkpe.org/abc or contact SPARK at 1-800-SPARK PE (772-7573).
Is it Recess Yet?
Part 1 of 2
By BJ Williston
SPARK K-12 Trainer & Curriculum Developer
Remember when you were little and someone asked you what your favorite class was? If you were like me, you emphatically said “Recess!” It’s not that I didn’t like my “real” classes, it’s just that the freedom I got when that bell rang was so sweet I could taste it.
The choices seemed endless. Sometimes I’d play kickball with a big group and other times I’d play marbles or jacks with a friend or I’d jump rope. I remember there were several months when I was obsessed with mastering a few tricks on the bars, so that is all I did. I grew up in Hawaii, and I remember needing help getting down whenever my muumuu got twisted around the bar. After it rained real hard, we couldn’t wait to chase baby frogs across the field. It was a smorgasbord of outdoor fun and I got to choose depending on my mood not once but twice a day. It was heaven.
Sadly, today’s elementary school kids don’t have it so good. Recess has been on the proverbial chopping block in the past decade due to budget cuts and the pinhole focus on academic standardized test scores. The powers that be have decided recess just isn’t important enough to keep. Well, I for one hope to shout that it is extremely valuable and worth fighting for. I’m not the only one, and more and more folks are causing a fuss to reverse this alarming trend.
Here are just a few of the issues in a nutshell:
We all instinctively know that recess is not just fun, but important for all kids to have on a daily basis. Knowing is one thing, however it sure helps recess’s case that The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with a strong opinion promoting recess. They consider recess a necessary break from the demands of school and in their policy statement in January 2013, they concluded that “minimizing or eliminating recess can negatively affect academic achievement, as growing evidence links recess to improved physical health, social skills and cognitive development.” So, there you have it: Recess is important for everyone.
Research conducted on recess and its benefits has found that students with at least 15 minutes of recess daily behaved better than their peers who did not have recess (Baros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). So, clearly taking it away from children with poor behavior in class is not what the doctor ordered. The benefits of recess range from increased physical activity to help children reach 60 minutes each day to the social and emotional learning they get from play.
Children learn teamwork, cooperation, empathy, fair play, and how to make adaptations to include all students. What do they do when they disagree? Do they need an adult there to help them clear it up? Most of the time, no. They learn conflict resolution skills to work things out on their own. Skills they can take with them and use in their life outside of school. Oh, and then there’s the benefit that the powers that be seem to be most interested in: improvements in academic scores. There are myriad studies correlating fitness and physical activity with higher academic scores. That’s always a nice feather in the benefits cap.
So, if everyone is saying recess is important, let’s be sure to keep it in schools and to make it the best it can be. How do you do that? SPARK can help. SPARK now has a Recess Component as part of the SPARKabc’s Program. It was written to help school staff get and stay organized, promote health-enhancing PA, and promote positive social interaction in a semi-structured environment. It’s got the whole package from an evaluation of your ho-hum or worse yet, dangerous and chaotic recess to all the tools you need to make it a recess your school is proud of.
The first step is to assess your current program. SPARKabc’s Program offers a School Recess Report Card designed to provide you and your committee a starting point for assessing the quantity and quality of your present recess.
The 5 components measured are:
After measuring these (with a committee including representatives from recess supervisors, PE staff, administration, parents, and classroom teachers) prioritize the components targeted for improvement. Priority goes to the components with the lowest scores on the report card. It is then time to implement!
See Part 2 of this blog for implementation ideas & resources.
True positive change is often not drastic or sweeping. It takes time to modify your family’s lifestyle and create lasting healthy habits. SPARK creates resources for educators to teach kids the importance of physical activity and healthy eating at school, but establishing a healthy routine begins with parents at home.
As you look ahead to the New Year, consider these suggestions to improve the health of your family:
Update your gear.
Getting organized is often at the top of the list when we turn the calendar for the New Year. Start by going through your family’s activewear and equipment to toss, recycle, or donate what no longer fits, works, or is used. This leaves room for any new gear you need, like running shoes for growing feet, jump ropes and balls, or even bikes for the family.
With the holidays behind us at this point and the cold dreary weather starting to take its toll, your family may want to hibernate inside until spring arrives. But winter inactivity is meant for bears, not humans! Find fun reasons to get outdoors. Winter sports, like skiing or ice skating, are fun for the whole family. Even if you bundle up for a simple daily walk around the neighborhood or play in the snow in the front yard, the fresh air and activity will do everyone some good.
Evaluate your family’s sleep habits.
March is the month when an hour of sleep is forever lost as we “spring forward” and set the clocks an hour ahead. But this is a great opportunity to look at the sleep habits of your family, parents included, to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of rest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call sleep deprivation in America an epidemic that tends to accompany other chronic illness. This month, take a few minutes to improve the sleep habits, and therefore overall health, of your family.
Go to a ball game.
April marks the start of America’s favorite pastime as fans flock to baseball stadiums across the country. Taking your family out to the ballpark is an excellent way to get some fresh air and witness some inspiring athletic talent. If baseball isn’t your thing, find a basketball game, tennis match, or track and field meet to attend.
For added benefit, let the pros inspire you to play your own game of baseball (or other sport of your choice) in the backyard or park with the kids. Show them that it’s fun to work up a sweat, strategize, and partake in a little friendly competition just like the big-leaguers. Emphasize the importance of positive sportsmanship and team work for a well-rounded learning experience.
Join a gym.
Prepare for months of no school by getting set up at a nearby gym that offers classes and an active play area for kids. While kids certainly need some down time in the months away from everyday studies, resist television takeover. If you work during the day, pick out a few evenings to hit up the gym with your kids so everyone can burn off some of that summer energy.
Practice proper sun protection.
Actually, wearing the right sunscreen is important every month of the year—even the ones without much sun. Summer usually brings more opportunities for sun exposure, though, so make sure you are always prepared with sunscreen of at least SPF 30. You should also encourage your kids to wear hats out in the sun and do the same yourself.
Discuss oral care.
July is Oral Health Month (February is Children’s Dental Health Month), giving you the perfect opportunity to talk to your family about tooth care and decay prevention. Did you know that tooth decay is the top chronic illness in children? It is admittedly tough to make sure kids are really taking proper care of their teeth and entire mouth, particularly if they are resistant. Take some extra time this month to explain the importance of oral health in your family and to establish good habits.
Take up biking.
If you live close enough to your workplace or children’s school, make a commitment to walk or ride there instead of taking the car. You do not have to spend a lot to get the right gear. Check local consignment shops and garage sales for bikes that others have outgrown and then get a few weeks of practice in before the school year begins.
Do yard work.
Plain and simple, yard work burns calories and brings families together in a united front. Yard work also teaches responsibility and stewardship.
Halloween is often viewed as a candy and sweet free-for-all but it can also be a great lesson in portion control. Let your kids pick out their candy favorites and then donate the rest to an organization like Operation Gratitude, which sends it to U.S. troops overseas.
Run a turkey trot.
Start your Thanksgiving morning off right by entering a family-friendly Turkey Trot road race. These can be as short as a one-mile walk or as long as a half-marathon. Find the distance that accommodates everyone in the family and then bundle up!
Give back and raise awareness.
Find a cause that is close to your family’s heart and donate some time to it. Organizations appreciate donations of cash, clothing, and other household items of course, but actually working for the cause helps your kids really see the impact. Whether by sorting canned goods or sweeping out a shelter animal’s crate, find an active way to give back during the holiday season.
Making minor changes over time is the best way to establish healthy family habits and teach your kids about lifelong wellness. Start the year off right with the determination to stay active and you will be healthier overall come January 1, 2015.
On October 21, the physical education advocacy community lost a great hero and mentor.
Carol M. White was many things in her life—a teacher, a congressional aide, a wife, a mother. Though White passed at the far-too-young age of 66, her legacy will live on from the important work she did advocating for quality, standards-based physical education programs in schools.
White was instrumental in the passing of the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Act that was introduced in 1999. Her voice was so strong when it came to the legislation that it was later renamed in her honor to the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress Act.
PEP: Funding Fit Children
White was always vocal about her belief that physical education (PE) should be a right for all American children and that it was vital to healthy lives and longevity. For PE programs to be given their proper credit and resources, White knew they needed backing on the federal level. As congressional aide, then Chief of Staff, to former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, she helped draft legislation that authorized an initial $400 million in grants so that local education organizations could build and maintain physical education programs.
Since the funds were enacted in 2002, over $800 million total in grants have been distributed out to physical education programs across the nation to in public, private and home school settings. The grants are available to K-12 programs and can be used to purchase instructional materials, professional development services, and content-matched equipment in an effort to help districts align their programs to State Physical Education Standards. As a direct result of these funds, millions of children have been introduced to the benefits of enhanced physical education and have experienced more inclusive, active, and enjoyable PE classes.
A Mission about More than Money
The money itself was not the only benefit of the act’s passage. Within the legislation were Congressional findings that raised public awareness on the great need for PE in the lives of American children. Some of those included statements about how:•
There were also some humbling statistics within the act that ultimately led to its passage as a matter of public health. Based on figures from 1999, those statistics were:
Within the act were these words that were undoubtedly influenced by White:
“Every student in our nation’s schools, from kindergarten through grade 12, should have the opportunity to participate in quality physical education. It is the unique role of quality physical education programs to develop the health-related fitness, physical competence, and cognitive understanding about physical activity for all students so that the students can adopt healthy and physically active lifestyles.”
Necessary Funding and a Legacy of Hope
Though she could not predict the recession years that followed her insistence on PEP’s passage, those funds became invaluable to the many schools and programs that needed them to keep physical education initiatives from vanishing due to budget cuts. The money from PEP grants has not just been used for PE program “extras”—in some cases, it has meant the difference between closing a program and keeping it running for children. To White and many other PE advocacy groups, teaching kids healthy habits and how to live active lifestyles was a right, like learning how to read or write—not a fringe component of education.
SPARK is just one of the many organizations that believe in what White stood for when it came to the fight against issues like childhood obesity. Tom Cove, CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), and Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America, worked hand in hand with White and continue to fight for PEP funding. SPARK is a proud sponsor of PHIT America and supports the efforts of SFIA and others to keep PEP alive.
In order to counteract the growing sedentary nature of American childhood, White knew that PE had to be an integral part of academics and not viewed as optional learning. Because of people like White speaking up, public awareness about the role of PE has increased. By using her influence in a positive way, White forever impacted the many children who have already benefitted from PEP grants—and the many more to come.
Thank you, Carol M. White. May your lasting contributions to physical education long be realized and remembered.
Help support the PEP grant! Click Here to send a letter to your representative to support PEP funding.