Archive for the ‘SPARK Blog’ Category


Keep Kids Heart-Healthy with These Fun Activities

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Heart

Physical inactivity is bad for your heart. Specifically, it’s a risk factor for developing coronary artery diseases, it increases the risk of stroke and can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and low HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind).

Encouraging your kids to be heart-healthy will help them fight these issues before they happen, and ideally should be part of their school curriculum. By working to establish healthy routines early on, kids are more likely to continue them through their lives.

What Defines a Heart-Healthy Activity for Kids?

 

Most activities that encourage children to move and exercise can be considered heart-healthy. The American Heart Association suggests that kids participate in at least 60 minutes of regular physical activity per day. Examples of activities that would quality include jogging, swimming, dancing, skiing, and kickboxing, as well as many other team sports.

So how does one get kids excited about heart-healthy activities?

Heart-Healthy Activities for Kids

 

Make It Fun

It’s not hard to encourage heart-healthy activities for kids if they happen to be activities that they already enjoy. A few examples:

  • Biking
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch
  • Playing on the playground and running around with friends

Of course, the key here is to make sure that kids get at least 60 minutes total of moderate to vigorous activity. Since kids might lose interest after just a few minutes, it’s important to supplement these fun activities with a little bit of structure.

SPARK Lesson Plans

With structure in mind, and making sure that kids get in the minimum amount of activity each day for heart-healthiness, we’ve created a number of lesson plans to help make this happen. Here are some easy ways to plan heart-healthy activities for kids:

Aerobic Bowling

For this activity, you’ll need 2 spot markers, 2 bowling pins (or lightweight cones), and 1 utility ball for each group of four students.

The object of this game is to teach underhand rolling skills, and to encourage kids to get as many points as possible before hearing a predetermined signal. The bowler rolls the ball to try and knock the pins over. He/she then runs after the ball, and sets up the cones for the next bowler, while the ball retriever retrieves the ball and runs it to the new bowler. Everyone gets a chance to play each role.

Hearty Hoopla

For this activity, you’ll need 4 hoops and 1 beanbag. You create a large activity area with a hoop in each corner. Four groups will participate, with one in each corner.

The object of this game is to collect beanbags from other hoops to bring to your group’s hoop. Movement is determined by a signal, and the group with the most beanbags scores a point for that round.

Hospital Tag

Who doesn’t like a game of tag?

For this activity, you’ll need 4 cones that create the boundary for a large activity area.

The object of this game is to tag as many others as possible, while avoiding being tagged yourself. Upon hearing, “Hospital Tag!” you tag people using a 2-finger tag. If you get tagged, you have to put a bandage (your hand) on your “boo-boo.” The next time you’re tagged, you have to put your other hand on your new “boo-boo.” Finally, if you get tagged a third time, move outside the boundaries to the “hospital,” complete a wellness task, and hop back into the game.

Do your students regularly engage in any of these heart-healthy activities for kids? Or is there something we missed that you’d add to this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

How to Include Dance in Your Lesson Plan

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Children dancing

Just as with most sports, dance has many benefits beyond the physical. It has been shown to improve a child’s social and emotional skills, with teachers reporting that dance made their students more accepting of one another and respectful of their body and that of others. Dance is also a good means of fitness for children who may shy away from team sports, where coaches and competition can be a bit much to handle for younger students.  

With these benefits in mind, dance could be the perfect activity to incorporate into your next lesson plan.

Selecting the Style

 

From conga lines to square dancing to Irish jigs, there are so many types of dance you can use to inspire your lesson plan. The dance that works best for you will consider a number of factors, including the size of activity space and the age of your students.

For kindergarten to grade two, the best style of dance is one composed of simple movements. The teacher makes a series of individual body movements, such as touching his nose, then swaying his hips, then jumping in the air. Children are asked to mimic those movements while maintaining their personal space, an excellent way to teach simple choreography, coordination, and balance. Most movement is on the spot, so modeling can be done in a regular classroom or gym.

For primary school children, dances such as tap and jazz will build the strength and flexibility of students’ legs and feet, as well as introduce them to different types of music. Once students get older and are able to better memorize routines, ballroom, Latin, and faster jigs are ways to challenge students. These dances will require a larger activity space, such as a gymnasium.

Whatever the age of your students, make sure all lessons include a proper warmup and cool down!

Consider the Learning Objectives

 

It could be that you want to incorporate dance into your lesson plan because of its myriad of health and wellness benefits. While this may be true, have you considered the other learning objectives dance can help achieve?

Increased Coordination and Rhythm

Partner dances that incorporate extra movement are effective in increasing coordination and rhythm. For early primary students, dances like the Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride involve movements performed by individual children and performed with one another. Once the music is played, children are asked to time their claps and knuckle taps to the music, which will teach them to listen to the natural rhythm of a song.

Encouraging Creativity

Dance is an artistic expression of creativity. This is the case with any form of dance, but free-form interpretive is the best style to get students to move as they feel. While there are definitely nuances to contemporary interpretive dance, younger students can participate in this type of dance by simply moving along to a piece of music. Try an interpretive “free dance” session at the end of your class — let kids do what they want, and be amazed by the results!

Cultural Education

Almost every style of dance has its underpinnings in some historical and cultural context. For middle school and high school students, dance is an excellent way to complement history lessons, giving teens a less conventional look at the social and cultural side of a certain period.

For more inspiration and helpful instructional videos that will guide you every (dance) step of the way, pick up your SPARK dance DVD today!

Heart-Healthy Meals that are Child-Friendly

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

healthy meal

It’s not easy to get kids to eat healthy, and it’s even more difficult to get them to understand why eating a certain way is important; children live in the now and are blissfully unaware of how their habits as children will impact them as adults.

The sooner you help kids to establish healthy eating habits, the easier it will be for them to adopt them for the long term. But before getting into the most child-friendly heart-healthy meals, here’s a primer on how to eat healthy, specifically with the heart in mind:

Heart-Healthy Eating 101

Heart-healthy foods are low in both salt and saturated fat (with zero trans fats). But that doesn’t mean that they are completely free of fat! Instead, heart-healthy foods may contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats — and that’s ok. Not all fats are bad, and it’s important to accept this fact if you intend to follow a heart-healthy diet. Of course, anything in excess can be harmful, so make sure to follow a balanced diet that includes proportionate amounts of nutrients.

The following represent some of the best heart-healthy foods, and how to use them in child-friendly heart-healthy meals.

Whole Grains

The ChooseMyPlate website identifies grains as any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Luckily, it’s not too hard to get kids to eat grains — it’s just important to make sure that the grains they consume are nutrient-rich. Refined grains, like white flour, lose a lot of the best heart-healthy nutrients, while whole grains keep everything intact.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using whole grains:

  • A bowl of oatmeal with sliced fruit
  • A whole grain sandwich with lean meats (like turkey) and vegetables
  • Whole grain pasta with pesto (the olive oil in pesto has heart-healthy fats)

Vegetables

Everyone knows vegetables are good for them, but certain vegetables are better than others for heart health. Specifically, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and red peppers (and many other red, yellow, and orange veggies) are known as being especially heart-healthy.

The secret to getting kids to eat veggies (and getting them excited about it!) is often to hide them in something else, or draw attention to another part of the meal so that they barely notice the vegetables.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using vegetables:

  • A veggie-filled omelette
  • Chicken fajitas with red peppers
  • Sweet potato and black bean salad (recipe)
  • Smoothies — it’s easy to disguise the taste of carrots and spinach with fruit!

Tomatoes

Most tomato varieties provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene. Luckily, it’s usually not too hard to get kids to eat tomatoes.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using tomatoes:

  • Tomato sauce with chopped veggies and whole grain pasta (two heart-healthy ingredients)
  • Sloppy Joes made with salsa and ketchup, with lean ground turkey

Berries

Besides being delicious, berries are rich with heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using berries:

  • Yogurt parfait with berries
  • Whole grain cereal with berries (two heart-healthy ingredients)

Dark Chocolate

Two things you might not expect to be heart-healthy: wine and chocolate. As you should certainly abstain from giving kids wine, you don’t have to deny them a delicious dark chocolate dessert. The chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa to achieve heart-healthy effects, and is most healthy in its purest form (aka, not as part of a sugar-rich ice cream or multi-ingredient candy bar).

Knowing the right inputs will make it easy to create child-friendly heart-healthy meals. But it’s always nice to have expert help when teaching nutrition basics to children. SPARK’s Nutrition Services can help fill any gaps, and provide a foundation for teaching kids about nutrition.

What would you add to this list?

Just Dance: Improving a Child’s Emotional and Social Skills Through Dance

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Dance class

There’s a reason why it feels so good when you have an uninhibited dance party in your bedroom. As well as being a great way to release tension — not to mention have a lot of fun — there are studies showing that dance is also an excellent way to foster the emotional and social growth of children.

Dancing combines all the benefits of physical activity with those of educating children about music and the arts. From an emotional and social standpoint, dance classes for kids between the ages of kindergarten and grade 12 are proven to have an impact when it comes to acceptance of others, respect, teamwork, and cooperation.

This could be because dance gives children the opportunity to express themselves freely and creatively, which allows an outlet for emotional and physical release. While children are still developing full cognitive abilities, it could be that they choose to send messages through dance rather than having to articulate their thoughts in speech.

Dance creates a social environment where kids need to cooperate with and trust one another to complete the moves and avoid stepping on toes. At a very young age, it also instills a greater respect for one’s body, and the bodies of others. Socially, it teaches children how to hold one another appropriately, how to be aware of someone else’s movement, and how to understand the physical abilities and limits of one’s own body.

Dance teaches the aforementioned skills in a language children understand: movement. Kids learn by doing, and there’s nothing better than moving through a dance routine to synthesize the lessons learned.

Bringing Dance to Schools

A survey conducted in 2014-2015 showed that 66% of LA-based schools that incorporated dancing reported seeing its students become more accepting of one another. This acceptance is important, especially in schools with at-risk students or communities where children come from diverse racial backgrounds. Dance, like music, is a universal language, and one that is relevant to every culture around the world. As research collected by NDEO states, dance can help at-risk students deal with more complex emotional and social conflicts, such as violence and race. By creating dance exercises that mirror the movements of different students, the head dancer is able to feel like a leader, and understands that they’re being accepted and respected by their peers.

As a bonus, participation in the arts is also shown to have a positive academic influence on children. A study on this topic found that students who took part in the arts performed better on standardized tests, had higher SAT and math scores, and were more focused in class. Dance can also have much needed health benefits at a time when 18% of American children aged 6 to 11 are obese and only 1 in 3 children are physically active on a daily basis.

If you’re wondering where to get started with bringing dance to your school, look no further than the SPARKdance DVD. Ideal for K-12 students, the DVD includes more than 20 dances and lesson guides so the benefits of the activity are within every educator’s grasp. There is also a Dance Decoded workshop for teachers who want to take their school’s physical education program to the next level.

What Activity Should You Add to Spice Up Your Lesson Plan? [QUIZ]

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Don’t let your Physical Education routine become stale – take our quiz to shake things up for your students!

 

Announcing the Specialty Workshop Contest Winner!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

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In partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we hosted the Sportime featuring SPARK Specialty Workshop Contest in the fall of 2016.

Educators were invited to enter the contest to win a Specialty Workshop and bring a past SHAPE America Teacher of the Year or SPARK Presenter to their school district for a unique hands-on professional development experience. Entries were open 10/6/16 – 12/10/16.

We received over 400 entries for the Specialty Workshop Contest! Thank you to all of the teachers who spent time completing the form for a chance to win.

Congratulations to the winning school!

Stetson Elementary School

Falcon School District 49

Colorado Springs, CO

Workshop: Magical MVPA Maximized!

“My students are cheerful, outgoing, competitive in a friendly way, have lots of energy, and have complete confidence in themselves. They are eager to learn new and creative ways to be active and stay healthy at school and for life-long living. The SPARK “Magical MVPA” workshop will provide me with the tools to teach those new and creative activities to the students. New equipment and resources are needed to enhance the Physical Education program at our school as well as replacing old equipment. Let’s Move, Get Active!”

— Matt Monfre, Stetson Elementary School

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The Winning School Receives:

  • (1) Specialty Workshop, brought to you by the SPARK Speakers Bureau. Click here to view our menu of Specialty Workshops to choose the best option for your school.
  • Presenter fees and travel are included in the award, value $2,200. The cost of substitute teachers or teacher stipends to attend the workshop are not included in the award, and are expected to be covered by the awardee.
  • (1) Sportime featuring SPARK voucher for PE supplies, value $800. Use the voucher to purchase instructional materials or PE equipment to support your program.

Total award value = $3,000

Search for other grant and funding opportunities on the SPARK Grant Finder.

We are proud to offer a wide selection of professional development workshops to fit the needs of your school or district! Presenters include past SHAPE America Teachers of the Year, SPARK trainers and program authors, and product experts. Click Here to view our full menu of training options.

Do Young Children Need Physical Education?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Children Playing

As a parent, sometimes the things you hear experts say about children’s health, and the things you observe in your own kid(s), can seem conflicting. You’ve likely heard about initiatives to increase physical education programs in elementary schools. Yet, when you witness your own elementary-age kids speeding around the kitchen in a game of tag with the family cat, it certainly seems like they have limitless energy — at this age, do they really need a program at school to get them to be active?

Here’s the thing about physical education: yes, these programs encourage physical activity, but it’s the second part of the phrase — the “education” portion — that’s the key factor, and the reason all young kids should have access to formal physical education classes.

Your kids may not need any help being active (your exhausted pet can likely attest to this); but they won’t learn about nutrition, fitness, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle on their own. Here’s why it’s so important to offer physical education classes to children, especially when they’re young.

Promoting Lifelong Fitness

For years, studies on childhood obesity and the importance of health and wellness on development have painted a clear picture of the ways children can benefit from physical education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for both preschool children (ages 2-5) and adolescents (ages 12-19). For children between the ages of six and eleven, the rate has tripled. Obese adolescents are also more likely to develop prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes, as well as bone and joint problems.

While encouraging physical activity is the first step to combatting childhood obesity, educating our children about fitness is the step that will carry them into healthy adulthood. Curriculum-based physical education programs teach kids how to exercise, using safe and proper techniques, and how to keep their muscles and hearts strong.

When we teach our kids about health and wellness at a young age, and build a positive association around being active, they are much more likely to develop healthy habits that continue throughout their lives.

Boosting the Brain

There’s more to physical education than just keeping your body fit — it also keeps your brain fit. Scientists have discovered a link between physical fitness and brain functionality in children. Researchers found that the brains of children who are more fit have a bigger hippocampus (the region of the brain connected to memory). These kids performed better on memory tests and activities than their less-fit peers.

The cognitive benefits of PE extend into classroom learning — multiple studies have found an association between physical activity and increased concentration in school. Several studies have researched the link between physical education and cooperative learning — a teaching strategy in which groups of students work together to improve their understanding of a particular subject. Children learn the importance of team-building and collaboration through physical group activities.

While many physical education programs face the risk of being cut from academic curriculum in favor of increasing class time, the reality is that active children tend to perform better in subjects like reading and mathematics.

Eating Right

A big part of physical education is teaching kids how to make healthy choices for their bodies — and that includes food choices. A comprehensive physical education curriculum includes lessons about nutrition and diet, teaching children (at levels they can understand) why certain foods are good for their bodies.

We know that a nutritious diet is important for growth and development; but it’s easy to forget the true impact that poor nutrition can have on a growing child. Young kids who lack nutrients in their diets are often more susceptible to illness, have trouble focusing, and sometimes show emotional side effects.

Physical education classes teach kids about the importance of various food groups, and how they interact with the body — in every area from your bones and heart, to your brain and even your mood. Learning how to make smart food choices will help your children as they get older and need to make more choices on their own.

Building Social Skills

Formal physical education can also help facilitate healthy social interactions. Early on in life, children develop their sense of identity and social cues by engaging in various group dynamics.

Physical activity — like running around on the playground — builds muscles and improves cardiovascular health, while physical education — structured classes in which kids have to complete physical activities — also exercises a child’s self control and develops cooperative skills and consideration for others. Playing team games and activities in a supervised environment allows opportunities for children to learn social skills, like how to lose — and win — graciously.

Participating in group activities and team sports encourages leadership, community engagement, and even altruism. For very young kids, basic and essential lessons like sharing and speaking kindly to others are encompassed in a physical education setting.

Physical education plays a substantial role in shaping children’s health and development, teaching them valuable life skills in fitness, focus, nutrition, and social interactions. A good understanding of these topics can make the difference between your child growing into a healthy adult, or falling into lifelong unhealthy habits.

Physical Education vs. Physical Activity [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing! Although they work together like peanut butter and jelly, Physical Education and Physical Activity are two separate things — and it’s important for teachers and parents to understand the difference.

physical activity vs physical education

 

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Physical Activity

— any bodily movement that involves physical exertion

  • A physical activity program gets you up and moving, in some form. This can include recreational sports, fitness classes, after-school programs, and recess.
  • Physical activity is unstructured
    • Kids can make their own choices and create their own rules
    • Helpful for learning social skills and problem solving techniques
  • Just some of the things that count as physical activity…
    • Dancing
    • Walking the dog
    • Doing push-ups
    • Throwing a baseball
    • Playing tag at recess
    • And much more!
  • Physical activity is one part of a physical education program — but physical activity can be found in many areas outside of physical education.
  • Physical activity should be incorporated throughout the day: before and after school, and during recess

Physical Education

— curriculum-based program that teaches students the benefits of physical activity, builds techniques for leading an active lifestyle, and promotes lifelong healthy habits.

  • A physical education program not only gets children moving, but also teaches them why that activity is important, what types of activity benefit your body, and how you can stay active throughout your life.
  • Physical education is structured
    • Students are taught how to play and skills needed to play
    • Students learn the rules for how to play games and participate
    • There is a structured warm-up and cool down
  • Physical education teaches children the importance of being physically active and about the human body and body systems
  • Physical education programs include:
    • A written curriculum, with clear objectives
    • Some form of grading or assessment
    • Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes
    • Physical activity for most of the class time
    • Lessons in ways to lead a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, nutrition, fitness, and social responsibility
  • Physical education incorporates physical activity, along with many other things, to form a complete program.

Do You Need Both?

Yes, you do!

According to SHAPE America, physical activity should make up at least 50% of a physical education program.

Benefits of Physical Activity:

  • Releases endorphins
    • Children who get at least 15 minutes of recess a day behave better in class than students who get less than 15 minutes a day.
  • Strengthens muscles / bone density
    • Children ages 6-17 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • Reduces risk for diabetes, obesity, depression, and heart disease
  • Enhances cognition
    • Children respond to cognitive tasks faster and with greater accuracy after a session of physical activity.

Benefits of Physical Education:

  • Teaches safe and correct exercise techniques
  • Promotes good nutrition and understanding of the body
  • Encourages lifelong health habits, decreases chances of unhealthy adult lifestyle
    • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
  • Enhances academic performance
    • Endurance exercise increases oxygen to the brain, strengthens neurotransmitters, and stimulates brain growth — improving your ability to think, learn, and retain information.
    • In physically fit children, the hippocampus (region of the brain affecting learning and memory) is roughly 12% larger than less fit children.
    • In a study of D.C. schools, students received higher standardized math scores when schools provided at least 90 minutes of physical education per week.
  • Builds skills in setting and achieving goals

New Year, New PE Lesson Plans

Monday, January 9th, 2017

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The New Year is a great time to try new things. With people taking the time to reflect and set new personal and professional goals, why not also refresh your physical education lesson plans in order to keep kids engaged in the curriculum?

Luckily for physical education teachers, it’s often a bit easier to get students engaged in PE class than it is in a math or science classroom. Physical education already has a distinctive advantage: kids are moving, which makes them better learners. Research from leading institutions across America has found that when kids move, their cognitive skills increase and attitudes improve, which leads to better performance in PE class and in their academics overall.

Still, there’s always room for improvement — and here at SPARK, we’ve got you covered!

Re-Assess Your Lesson Plans

Any physical education teacher knows that a class requires more planning than simply tossing kids a ball and having them kick it around. Just as with other subject lesson plans, it’s important to take stock of what you’re trying to accomplish with an activity, and during the setup you need to do that.

Take a game of basketball. A classic PE activity, a teacher needs a number of class materials, such as a certain sized gymnasium with activity lines on the floor, and the right type of ball. A physical educator also needs to know the rules of play and a game time limit.

Perhaps the guidelines and materials listed above are all that’s currently written in your PE lesson plan. That’s a great start, but it’s not all you should include. This New Year, take the time to do a “content analysis” of your PE lesson plan where you consider the learning outcomes you want to accomplish from each activity.

Basketball has a number of learning outcomes for students: improved hand eye coordination; increased locomotor skills from movements such as running and jumping; and expanded teamwork and cooperation as they plan with their teammates and work together to win the game.

By determining the specific physical, social, and intellectual learning outcomes for each class, you’ll be better able to guide students towards meeting those goals. Not only that, but at a time when physical education classes are being cut across the country, it will be beneficial for you to provide very specific learning outcomes to administration so they’re sure to see the inherent value of PE class.

Introducing New Games

As well as determining learning outcomes for your existing activities, the New Year is also a good time to add completely new games to your lesson plan roster.

Introducing new games doesn’t mean tossing aside your existing lesson plans. Just as in a science class where students may learn about the parts of the body, then cell structure, then cell reproduction, physical education lesson plans should be all about building on existing learning. That means taking a classic game like basketball and mixing it up a bit!

Look at the activities that you currently incorporate into the curriculum and find some way to modify them. Or, do this in reverse: write a list of the learning outcomes you’d like to achieve from your PE curriculum and then develop activities to match those outcomes.

SPARK has various activity plans designed specifically for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Each plan comes with instructions, learning outcomes, assessment tools, and more, so you can focus on what’s most important: creating an engaging physical education class for your students.

6 Ways to Help Students Keep their New Year’s Resolutions

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

New Year

With 2017 just starting, New Year’s Resolutions are a hot topic of discussion. Many people set a resolution, but it usually falls to the wayside after a few weeks. People see it as too difficult, or too time consuming, and give up.

There are many tips and tricks to find success, specifically when it comes to different ways to help students keep their New Year’s Resolutions. These actionable tips will encourage and inspire!

Aim for Reasonable

Everyone has things they want to change in their lives, but it’s important to set realistic goals so that students expect changes to actually stick. For example, instead of them saying, “I want to get stronger,” encourage them to say something more like, “I want to run three miles.” Take this a step further to make sure that all goals you set are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (learn more about SMART Goals). And when they hit their first goal, encourage them to create a new one. This idea is all about creating a series of mini goals on the road to achieving one major goal.

Other great mini goal examples:

  • For a student aiming to eat healthier, have them cut out one junk food from their diet each month.
  • For a student who wants to commit to studying more, have them agree to clock in 30 minutes/day of studying.

Celebrate the “Small” Stuff

It’s okay to have multiple big goals going at the same time, but don’t let students get too caught up in the ultimate end on the way. It’s important to celebrate the small stuff on the way to a goal. A few examples:

  • If your student’s goal is to run further, give them a reward or heap on the praise for every 10 miles ran.
  • If your student’s goal is to get straight A’s, give them credit for raising grades from C’s to B’s.

Even actions as “small” as doing homework before it’s due should be rewarded to reinforce these positive actions that lead to big results for students. Encourage parents to assist with rewards, which may be things that help push students towards their next goal. Depending on the goal, these things might be new workout shoes or new school supplies. A reward doesn’t have to be big or expensive to be effective!

Make it a Friendly Competition

Making a goal with a friend who has a similar goal will help keep students on track. With a competitive aspect added to goal setting, students are more likely to work hard to achieve it. Motivation towards the desire to win or do better than the other person will fuel action, especially with kids.

Activity trackers allow you to track your fitness progress against other friends. The device lets you see how many steps a person has achieved in a day, and how you’re ranking against them. This can push users to be more active so they can “win.” Social activity trackers are a great way to motivate and create accountability between students.

Track Progress

One of the best ways to help students keep their New Year’s Resolution? Make sure that they write it down, and track it! By keeping a record of progress, it will help students see how far they’ve come over time. It will help students visualize their progress, instead of feeling like they’ve gotten nowhere. This is especially important when setting mini goals on the path to major goals.

To make this process easier, encourage students to use an app to track progress. After all, people are already glued to their smartphones – students might as well opt in for record keeping via an app.

One Goal at a Time

Most people’s New Year’s Resolutions are ambitious, and some people try to focus on more than one at a time. Oftentimes, this won’t end up working out, because people get overwhelmed and want to quit.

If a student has a few big goals (like eating less junk food, exercising more, getting better grades, etc.), they should pick one, and work towards that. Some goals will inevitably coincide, and students may achieve two goals while doing one, without realizing it. Also, encourage students to rethink their goals if they become something they hate. It’s okay to change a goal – it’s not failing, just rethinking.

Ask Someone for Help

It is okay to be struggling with a goal/resolution. Tell students that if they need a new way of approaching something, it’s 100% okay to ask for help from a friend, family member, or someone who has accomplished what they’re aiming for. By asking for help, it holds a person accountable to their goal. When someone has gone out of their way to help, it fuels the desire to do better.

It’s okay to slip up, we’re human! Tell students not to let that stop them from achieving their goals, even if they have to make adjustments. Keep at it, and ask for help if needed.

Keeping up with New Year’s Resolutions can be difficult, but not impossible. Helping students set realistic goals is a key to success, and holding them accountable is another. Finally, make sure students know to ask for help and adjust if necessary.

What would you add to this list of ways to help students keep their New Year’s Resolution?