Posts Tagged ‘Physical Activity’


Parents: 3 Easy Actions You Can Take to Boost Play for Kids!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Fish-eye view of children on play equipment

School is back in session. But too many schoolyards are LOCKED UP after classes, especially in Latino neighborhoods, and families often lack safe places to play.

That’s why Salud America! has a new campaign urging schools to boost public access to recreational facilities. Salud America!, led by health researcher Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program. It was created to prevent Latino childhood obesity and is based at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio (@SaludToday on social media).

Here are three actions all parents can take today to boost play for kids:

DOWNLOAD our free toolkit for parents with easy steps to achieve open use of school rec facilities!

SIGN our letter campaign to urge your state PTA association to help schools develop shared or open policies for recreational facilities!

SHARE photos on social media of recreational facilities you want kids to be able to play on, tag with #ActiveSpaces, and enter a random drawing for a free Jawbone fitness tracker!

Open and shared use policies can increase opportunities for physical activity and play among families.

Schools can adopt an “open use” policy to formally grant public access to its recreational facilities after school hours. Schools also can work with other groups to develop a “shared use agreement,” a contract that allows the sharing of school facilities for the public or groups after hours.

Don’t miss this opportunity to download our toolkit, sign the letter, and learn more about sharing active spaces photos to show support for these healthy school changes.

The future health and weight of Latino and all children depends on accessible opportunities for physical activity and play!

This post has been provided by Salud America!

Learn more at salud-america.org.

Fun Physical Activities for Summer

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Fun_Physical_Activities_for_Summer

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Include physical activity into every family event (e.g. parties, picnics, reunions, vacations, etc.). Choose activities that are fun for everyone; remember these do not need to be competitive or sports-oriented. You may have to invest in a few equipment items to help with this; some examples are flying discs, a smashball set, a soft volleyball and net, a croquet or Bocce ball set, kites, a boogie board, an inflatable dinghy, some bikes, etc. These will obviously depend on your family’s activity preferences, weather, and where you live. Choose activities the whole family enjoys, and do them together. This month we include three activity suggestions plus a SPARK Summer BINGO card to help you stay active throughout the summer. Try them all!

Roll the Dice Fitness

Grade level: K-1

Need: One die

Youngest in the family rolls the die. All players complete the activity below for the # showing.

  1. Hop on one foot 10X
  2. Jump side-to-side 10X
  3. Skip down the hall and back
  4. Sit and reach your hands toward your feet while singing the ABC song
  5. Walk like your favorite animal
  6. Complete five push-ups (from your knees or feet)

Hopscotch

Grade level: 2-3

Need: Chalk, a small rock (or any small tossable) per player, and a cement slab (driveway, sidewalk, etc.)

Create your own hopscotch court on the sidewalk or driveway using the chalk. Make it as long or as short as you like and be sure to include single and double spaces. Second or third grader goes first; he/she tosses the rock to the first spot on the court. Challenge him/her to hop and jump to the end and back, always skipping over any spaces with a rock. Each person in the family takes a turn, starting with youngest on up to the oldest. When it comes back to the second/third grader, he/she now throws to the #2 spot. Continue through to the last spot, alternating players each round.

Disc Golf

Grade level: 4-5

Need: One flying disc per player, an outdoor area (like a park or the beach) with various objects to use as targets.

The object of the game is to reach the “hole” with your disc from the starting point in as few throws as possible. Start by choosing a target for the “hole” (like a tree or fence post) that will be challenging to reach in 2-4 throws. All players begin at the same spot, beginning with the youngest and continuing to the oldest. After all have tossed, they move quickly to their discs and the player farthest from the “hole” throws next. All watch out for incoming discs! Continue until all have reached the target and everyone counts how many throws it took to get there.

Choose another object and begin on next “hole,” and after completing, continue for a total of 9 or 18 “holes.” Afterwards, everyone tallies their total score, adds their age, and that is their final score. Lower scores are the goal.

Try to improve each time you play, and change the course to make it easier or more challenging each time.

Staying Active over Summer Break

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Staying_Active_over_Summer_Break

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

It’s finally summer break! Your kids have been working hard all school year long and now they get to sleep in and veg out all day, right? Well, while they technically could do that, they really shouldn’t! Having so much free time over the summer is a nice break from the constant go, go, go! scheduling that often occurs during the school year. But rather than seeing summer as an opportunity to be more physically active, many see it as a chance to do…nothing. All that hard-earned fitness goes straight out the window. It must be remembered that the recommendation for 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity for children is not just for during the school year; it’s for ALL year! So, while there may not be recess or PE time scheduled into their days, children still need to get outside and get active doing something they enjoy in order to stay healthy and maintain their fitness throughout the year. Here are some tips for making that happen:

Be Supportive

If you need to be at work and your kids are too young to be at home unsupervised, summer camps that promote physical activity are a great way to keep your children active through the summer.

If at least one parent can be at home with the kids, offer to support them by:

  • Allowing your children to get together with friends to make physical activity more fun.
  • Providing toys that encourage their activity like a jump rope, bicycle, balls, flying discs, etc.
  • Providing transportation to and from physical activity venues when you can.
  • Engaging in physical activity with your children. This not only makes it more fun for them, it also gets you active as well!
  • Doing anything you can! Studies show children who feel supported are more likely to be physically active.

Plan Ahead

If your goal is to be active at least 60 minutes each day, you are going to need to schedule time for that. If you don’t, the day fills up with your errands and household chores, and kids end up settling in for hours of sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games. Remember, though, that you don’t need to be active for 60 minutes all in one bout. In order to break it up, you could plan something in the morning and something in the evening, when it’s cooler.

To mix it up and keep it fresh, try rotating activities each day. Plan each week with your children so everyone gets a say in what you all do. When children are part of the decision-making there’s a bit more buy-in. Here’s a sample of a weekly plan with input from the whole family:

Monday: Take a dog walk in the a.m. and play basketball in the p.m.

Tuesday: Take a bike ride in the a.m. and a hike in the p.m.

Wednesday: Play catch in the a.m. and take a dog walk in the p.m.

Thursday: Go to the playground in the a.m. and swim at the beach or pool in the p.m.

Friday: Take a walk in the a.m. and kick a soccer ball around in the p.m.

Saturday: Go to the beach, a lake, or a park and bring lots of toys for activity!

Sunday: Take a hike

Everything may not go as planned, but do the best you can to keep physical activity a top priority each day and you’ll be giving your kids a better chance to reach their 60 minute goal.

Set Limits

Limit your children’s (and the whole family’s) screen time. The number of minutes is up to you, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a limit of 1-2 hours each day. This includes all types of screens including TV, movies, phones, tablets, computers, etc. Kids who are in front of screens more than 2 hours a day have a higher risk of being overweight and may have irregular sleep patterns.

Keeping TV, phones, tablets, and computers out of your children’s rooms is a big help. Those who have them in their room spend an extra 90 minutes glued to them than children without.

When children are watching TV, set a rule that there is no sitting during commercials. It helps to break up their screen time and limit the consecutive minutes seated.

Have Fun!

Keeping your activities fun is a great way to ensure your children will be active now as well as in the future. You want them to associate activity with enjoyment. Getting their input is important, but also exposing them to a variety of activities allows them to get a little taste of everything and find which ones they enjoy the most. Here is a list of some fun ways to be active:

  • Play volleyball with a beach ball or volleyball in the backyard or park.
  • Challenge the kids to a create-your-own obstacle course at the playground.
  • Take a family walk and prompt your kids to balance walk the curb and short walls as you go along.
  • Shoot baskets with an age-appropriate ball and basket.
  • Play a tag game at the park.
  • Take a nature walk at a park or preserve.
  • Play create-your-own golf using flying discs or soccer balls at your local park.
  • Take a family bike ride.
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt looking for things like feathers, rocks, seeds, leaves, etc.
  • Jump rope; either short or long ropes depending on everyone’s skill level.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, be sure to keep it fun and active. Your children will have a healthier, happier summer if you do!

Quidditch – Should You Embrace the Global Craze?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

quidditch

Many real-life events inspire works of fiction, but now and then, fiction inspires real life. Quidditch, the flying broomstick sport made popular in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, is now played outside of those pages (with a few adaptations for non-wizards). Of course, players are limited by the constraints of gravity and must avoid the signature bludger instruments made famous in the bloody matches in the book; the basics of Quidditch are happening globally though, on the ground and in safe ways.

The Guardian reports that in the past decade, Muggle Quidditch (or Quidditch for people who are not actually wizards) has ignited fans worldwide. The game is played on six continents, in 20 countries, and at more than 1,200 schools. There are also college-level and adult leagues for the sport. The appeal of the game is multi-faceted and is not dependent on having knowledge of the book series that made it famous. Kids and adults at all fitness levels can participate together in Quidditch in some way, thanks to its variation of player roles.

The Basics of Muggle Quidditch

There are seven players on each team, just like the book version. Those players are divided up like this:

  • Three chasers on each team – players who carry or pass the ball on the way to the goal.
  • Two beaters on each team – players who throw dodge balls at opposing players to disqualify them from the field for a specified time period.
  • One keeper on each team – a goalie, basically.
  • One snitch runner, not assigned to a team – a player who tucks the snitch (in this version, a tennis ball in a sock) in his or her shorts, and who is not required to ride a broomstick.
  • One seeker on each team – a player that hunts the snitch runner and tries to steal the snitch.

Throughout the game, points are earned on both teams when goal hoops are made (10 points per goal). The game ends when a seeker catches the snitch runner, and successfully steals the snitch. The team of the victorious seeker earns 30 points. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game.

The game is complex and calls on a lot of different skill sets, making it ideal for large group fitness sessions. Speed and strength must combine with strategy for a win, making it a more inclusive game than some traditional physical education class options.

Quidditch is Adaptable

Students are so excited by Muggle Quidditch that it’s popping up in physical education curriculum all over the country. The Harry Potter series inspires the game, of course, but students and teachers can adapt the way it’s played based on creativity, and the equipment and resources available to them.

Muggle – or Earthbound – Quidditch is scalable based on the age of the participants, too. Younger kids can play it without broomsticks, for example, while middle and high schoolers can add that level of difficulty. Even kids who have decided they are “too old” for Harry Potter can get excited about the physicality of Quidditch. It’s a fun and challenging approach to physical education – giving Quidditch wide appeal.

More Than Just a Game

Since posting the rules for her “Earthbound Quidditch” game on a health and physical education site in 2001, Ohio P.E. teacher Jodi Palmer says the page has seen nearly 60,000 views. In an interview with AthleticBusiness.com, Palmer says that some teachers are intimidated at first by the rules and complexity of Quidditch on paper, but that once kids actually get up and moving, it all comes together.

The unusual nature of the sport makes it interesting to kids from many different backgrounds, often bringing together players who don’t have much in common off the field. Being part of a team in a game that’s unabashedly out of the ordinary can instill confidence in children, and help them to feel more comfortable in their own skin. The basis in Harry Potter attracts many book-lovers, including kids who may not otherwise take part in athletics. On the flip side, the physical challenge of the sport is appealing to active children and can become a gateway for kids previously uninterested in reading to get excited about the book series. As Harrison Homel, executive director of the International Quidditch Association, explained, “It turns readers into athletes, and athletes into readers.” The magic of Quidditch in real life is the way that it brings players together to share in a fun and unique experience; it’s not held to any preconceptions our society may hold about more traditional sports.

Ready to give the down-to-earth version of Quidditch a shot in your P.E. class? Visit the International Quidditch Association website to download rules, safety guidelines, and tips for getting kids excited about participating.

50 Activation Grant Winners Announced

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

lmas-grant-winner

Sportime featuring SPARK Announces 50 Activation Grant Winners

May 26, 2016

San Diego, CA – In celebration of Sportime’s 50th anniversary and in partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, Sportime featuring SPARK is proud to announce (50) Activation Grant awards to schools nationwide to help students get active before, during, and after school.

Let’s Move! Active Schools is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative dedicated to ensuring 60 minutes of physical activity a day is the norm in K-12 schools. The initiative is powered by a national collaborative of 35 health, education and private sector organizations that work together through the collective impact framework to help schools create Active School environments for children.

The 50 grant recipients were selected out of more than 500 applications that were received from schools across the country. Applications were submitted by Physical Education Teachers, Health Teachers, Classroom Teachers, Wellness Coordinators, Principals, PTA Members, and other members of the school community.

Applicants expressed the need for physical education curriculum – many teachers do not have any curricular materials for physical education and have to create their own lesson plans and assessments – as well as a variety of equipment to help engage large class sizes, include students with special needs, and to introduce lifelong activities other than traditional sports. Applicants also aimed to increase activity throughout the school day by integrating physical activity into classrooms and before/after school programs.

“We are very proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sportime this year by giving back to schools in need of materials and tools for developing their physical activity and wellness programs,” stated Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “Through our strategic partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we are providing innovative resources including evidence-based curriculum, teacher training and equipment to help students maximize their activity not just during school but also before and after school, enabling them to build all-round healthy lifestyles that can be carried into adulthood. We congratulate all the grant winners and look forward to their programs being a success!”

Grant applications were accepted April 1- April 30, 2016 and K-12 schools in the United States were eligible to apply. As a requirement of the grant, schools must be enrolled with Let’s Move! Active Schools and have completed the school assessment by the application deadline.

The 50 awarded schools will receive a grade-level specific SPARK Curriculum set that includes the SPARK manual, music CD, and 3-year access to SPARKfamily.org.  Each SPARK program is research-based and provides hundreds of lesson plans aligned to state and national physical education standards, assessments, task and skill cards in English and Spanish, videos, dances, and more.  The awarded schools will also receive a $100 voucher to purchase physical activity equipment from Sportime.

Congratulations to the grant winners!

The 50 Awarded Schools are:

activation-grant-winners-2

To learn more about Let’s Move! Active Schools, visit letsmoveschools.org. 

To search for other grant opportunities, view the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool.

4 Tips to Motivate Kids to Be Active

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

You’ve likely heard the statistic before: over one-third of children and adolescents are overweight. That number has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This government agency suggests lowering the risk of obesity and its associated health problems through a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

motivating kids to be active

Schools play a vital role in establishing these healthy habits and helping children develop a positive relationship with their health. When thinking about the physical activity side of health, consider these ways you and your fellow educators can help motivate kids to be more active.

Promote Game Play

Physical education is great for children and adults alike, but when children develop a poor relationship with exercise, they’re unlikely to maintain an active lifestyle later in life. That’s why physical activity has to be fun. When it feels more like a game than a chore, students will be excited to get moving!

For instance, physical activity shouldn’t be all about running laps. While running is excellent for your health, few kids will find any meaning behind it. Instead, give them an objective by playing games with them on the playground and in the gym. An aerobic game, such as Aerobic Bowling, will get students running around, but they’ll be more engaged since the game has a sense of purpose and strategy to it.

Don’t forget that you don’t need a gym or playing field to get kids to be active. Kids can get moving with limited space, even if that means minor activities like standing or jumping. For instance, have your students stand in a circle and toss a ball or bean bag to each other. The one holding the object must answer the next question in your lesson. It may not seem like a lot, but simply standing can help combat some of the health issues associated with prolonged sitting, such as issues with blood glucose control, says BBC.com. For more ideas for physical education and activity in tight spaces, see the recent SPARK webinar “No Gym? No Problem!” presented by Chairman Sutherland. You can view the free recorded webinar on SPARKecademy.org.

Avoid Using Physical Activity to Reinforce Behavior

Why do you think some students are reluctant to engage in physical activity? Is it perhaps because they view it as a punishment? When educators and parents use it as a punishment, it becomes that in a child’s mind.

For instance, when a student is late for practice, a coach might tell him to do 20 pushups. If they’re taught that physical activity is a punishment for their actions, do you think they’ll continue to enjoy it?

Likewise, the Tennessean points out that withholding physical activity doesn’t help the situation, either. For instance, holding a child in from recess may teach him that physical activity and play aren’t important to his overall well-being.

Don’t Make Everything a Competition

While many games played in PE class are all about one team winning or losing, it’s important that students understand that not all forms of physical activity require competition. If they grow up learning that physical activity is all about the competition, how many do you think will develop a habit of activity when there aren’t sports teams available to them?

Instead, encourage children to find and pursue activities they enjoy. The more they like it, the more they’ll be motivated to do it. For instance, while you can compete in swimming and biking, these can also be individual sports that are a lot of fun when done by yourself.

While a healthy dose of competition is good, it’s also worth exploring ways to promote individualized activities or those that are simply fun to do, like skating.

Consider the Students’ Ages

Each age group requires a different approach to physical activity since they’re all at different levels. Consider these guidelines.

3-5 year olds:

  • Get kids moving every 30 minutes or so.

  • Focus on the fun instead of competition, such as dancing.

  • Limit time spent with technology.

6-9 year olds:

  • Help children set physical activity goals for themselves, and let them pick those goals.

  • Explore numerous sports and activity options so children can decide what they like best.

  • Focus on sportsmanship and personal growth instead of competition.

10-14 year olds:

  • Teach children about their physical activity needs.

  • Begin helping refine movements, such as practicing free-throws instead of simply throwing the ball at the basket.

  • Help children track their goals.

Motivating kids to be active starts with making activity a fun and rewarding experience. How will you motivate your students to be more active?


[INFOGRAPHIC] Youth & Yoga

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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!

Youth & Yoga - Kids Yoga Poses

Share This Infographic On Your Site

Teaching Children Good Sporting Behavior

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Sports teach kids many important lessons. One of those lessons is how to play hard and fair, while also being a good sport. Good sporting behavior not only teaches children how to compete without losing their composure, but it also helps them understand the importance of positive social skills. By teaching and reinforcing these values at a young age, children are prepared for the greater competitive opportunities they’ll face during their teenage years.
Defining Good Sporting Behavior
By definition, good sporting behavior means playing a game by the rules, respecting those rules, and being courteous to teammates, the referee, and the other team. A good sport may be unhappy about losing a game or match, but they won’t take out their unhappiness on the other team. Good sports remain calm and respectful, and think about how they can improve their performance the next time. On the other hand, the good sport who is ahead on points when the game ends also remains respectful and does not gloat or brag. Keeping score does infuse some level of competition, yet respecting others and the game itself should be the highest priority.
The Importance of Being a Good Sport
There are three major lifelong lessons children can learn from being a good sport:
1.  The score is less important than playing the game the right way, being respectful of yourself and others, and enjoying the process. During and after a game, being humble and thankful for the experience is a goal to strive for. Assessing one’s performance and trying to improve it next time—regardless of the outcome of any sporting event—is the ultimate objective.
2. Good sporting behavior teaches kids to accept losing gracefully and respectfully. Losing isn’t very fun, but it’s a necessary part of life. Good sporting behavior teaches children that there are times we all need to swallow our pride, respect those who won, accept our losses, then move on.
3. Finally, good sporting behavior teaches children to be humble and respectful after winning or succeeding. Respect goes both ways. Winning is certainly something to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean we forget about the kids or adults on the other side of the field who are disappointed. Next week, it could be our team on the losing side. That should be respected, along with the fact that that all players and people are equal—winning doesn’t make you better, losing doesn’t make you worse.
Tips for Encouraging Good Sporting Behavior
Encouraging children to be good sports is often more difficult than it seems. Each child is different, after all, and just as it’s important to teach kids that winning and losing are both natural parts of life, it’s also important to remember that emotional tensions often run high during periods of high energy—such as while playing sports. Remember to always approach any arguments or fights calmly and objectively.
Here are three more tips to keep in mind when encouraging kids to play hard, play fair, and be a good sport:
Strive to Be a Role Model
Always remember you’re going to be the one the children look up to when coaching, supervising, or pairing up with kids for sports and competitive activities. You never want to start an argument or lose your cool in front of them. Cheer your children on from the sidelines and never talk meanly about the other team. This should even be remembered while watching other sporting events.
Establish Rules Early
Make it a point to explain the rules of the game early on and follow those rules at all times. If you ever see anyone breaking the rules, call the child out and remedy the rule breaking as quickly as you can. Point out the rules and examples of the rules in action while watching other teams play. Explain the rules so they make sense. Stress the importance of listening to and respecting the decisions of referees and coaches.
Also, make sure your kids know how to behave while on the field and off. Set ground rules for what to do when winning or losing a match and hold the children to those rules. Try to end each match or game—no matter who won or lost—with a series of handshakes between both teams and heads held high.
Emphasize Performance and Progress
Instead of emphasizing winning and losing, emphasize goals like having fun, learning how to work together as a team, or accomplishing personal performance goals. Keep tabs on the progress of the team and compliment each member when significant progress is made. Whenever possible, concentrate on positive aspects instead of negative ones.
This goes for the opposing team as well. When you compare the opposing team to the players of your own team, make sure to positively point out things the other team may be doing differently and explain how your team can do the same. Use these moments to teach instead of criticize.
If your children lose a game or match, instead of criticizing each member, talk about how they performed positively. Stress the importance of improvement while providing examples of how they can work on improving. Set new goals if need be. Criticism can be hard to take, especially at a young age, but mixing it with new goals to work on and praise for other things helps children reflect on the conversation and all of the points that were made.
Teaching children to be good sports begins at home, during practice, and in those crucial moments during the big game. By encouraging kids to play fair and take wins and losses with a head held high and a humble heart, you help them ease into a world where they can confidently tackle challenges head-on and succeed with flying colors.

Sports teach kids many important lessons. One of those lessons is how to play hard and fair, while also being a good sport. Good sporting behavior not only teaches children how to compete without losing their composure, but it also helps them understand the importance of positive social skills. By teaching and reinforcing these values at a young age, children are prepared for the greater competitive opportunities they’ll face during their teenage years.

Defining Good Sporting Behavior

By definition, good sporting behavior means playing a game by the rules, respecting those rules, and being courteous to teammates, the referee, and the other team. A good sport may be unhappy about losing a game or match, but they won’t take out their unhappiness on the other team. Good sports remain calm and respectful, and think about how they can improve their performance the next time. On the other hand, the good sport who is ahead on points when the game ends also remains respectful and does not gloat or brag. Keeping score does infuse some level of competition, yet respecting others and the game itself should be the highest priority.

The Importance of Being a Good Sport

There are three major lifelong lessons children can learn from being a good sport:

1. The score is less important than playing the game the right way, being respectful of yourself and others, and enjoying the process. During and after a game, being humble and thankful for the experience is a goal to strive for. Assessing one’s performance and trying to improve it next time—regardless of the outcome of any sporting event—is the ultimate objective.

2. Good sporting behavior teaches kids to accept losing gracefully and respectfully. Losing isn’t very fun, but it’s a necessary part of life. Good sporting behavior teaches children that there are times we all need to swallow our pride, respect those who won, accept our losses, then move on.

3. Finally, good sporting behavior teaches children to be humble and respectful after winning or succeeding. Respect goes both ways. Winning is certainly something to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean we forget about the kids or adults on the other side of the field who are disappointed. Next week, it could be our team on the losing side. That should be respected, along with the fact that that all players and people are equal—winning doesn’t make you better, losing doesn’t make you worse.

Tips for Encouraging Good Sporting Behavior

Encouraging children to be good sports is often more difficult than it seems. Each child is different, after all, and just as it’s important to teach kids that winning and losing are both natural parts of life, it’s also important to remember that emotional tensions often run high during periods of high energy—such as while playing sports. Remember to always approach any arguments or fights calmly and objectively.

Here are three more tips to keep in mind when encouraging kids to play hard, play fair, and be a good sport:

Strive to Be a Role Model

Always remember you’re going to be the one the children look up to when coaching, supervising, or pairing up with kids for sports and competitive activities. You never want to start an argument or lose your cool in front of them. Cheer your children on from the sidelines and never talk meanly about the other team. This should even be remembered while watching other sporting events.

Establish Rules Early

Make it a point to explain the rules of the game early on and follow those rules at all times. If you ever see anyone breaking the rules, call the child out and remedy the rule breaking as quickly as you can. Point out the rules and examples of the rules in action while watching other teams play. Explain the rules so they make sense. Stress the importance of listening to and respecting the decisions of referees and coaches.

Also, make sure your kids know how to behave while on the field and off. Set ground rules for what to do when winning or losing a match and hold the children to those rules. Try to end each match or game—no matter who won or lost—with a series of handshakes between both teams and heads held high.

Emphasize Performance and Progress

Instead of emphasizing winning and losing, emphasize goals like having fun, learning how to work together as a team, or accomplishing personal performance goals. Keep tabs on the progress of the team and compliment each member when significant progress is made. Whenever possible, concentrate on positive aspects instead of negative ones.

This goes for the opposing team as well. When you compare the opposing team to the players of your own team, make sure to positively point out things the other team may be doing differently and explain how your team can do the same. Use these moments to teach instead of criticize.

If your children lose a game or match, instead of criticizing each member, talk about how they performed positively. Stress the importance of improvement while providing examples of how they can work on improving. Set new goals if need be. Criticism can be hard to take, especially at a young age, but mixing it with new goals to work on and praise for other things helps children reflect on the conversation and all of the points that were made.

Teaching children to be good sports begins at home, during practice, and in those crucial moments during the big game. By encouraging kids to play fair and take wins and losses with a head held high and a humble heart, you help them ease into a world where they can confidently tackle challenges head-on and succeed with flying colors.

Carol M. White: A Lasting Legacy of Physical Education

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
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:
Physical education improves self-esteem, behavior, independence, and relationships in children.
Physical education gives the overall health of children a boost by improving bone development, cardiovascular stamina, muscular strength, posture, and flexibility.
Physical education encourages healthy lifestyle habits and positive use of free time.
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:
Diseases related to obesity cost the U.S. more than $1 billion annually.
Less than 1 in 4 children get the recommended 20 minutes of vigorous activity in a given day.
Poor diet and sedentary lifestyles cause over 300,000 U.S. deaths every year.
The percentage of overweight children has doubled in the past 30 years.
Children who are exposed to daily physical activity programs remain healthier throughout their adult lives.
Adults of a healthy weight and fitness level have significantly fewer risk factors when it comes to strokes and heart attacks.
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.

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:•

  • Physical education improves self-esteem, behavior, independence, and relationships in children.
  • Physical education gives the overall health of children a boost by improving bone development, cardiovascular stamina, muscular strength, posture, and flexibility.
  • Physical education encourages healthy lifestyle habits and positive use of free time.

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:

  • Diseases related to obesity cost the U.S. more than $1 billion annually.
  • Less than 1 in 4 children get the recommended 20 minutes of vigorous activity in a given day.
  • Poor diet and sedentary lifestyles cause over 300,000 U.S. deaths every year.
  • The percentage of overweight children has doubled in the past 30 years.
  • Children who are exposed to daily physical activity programs remain healthier throughout their adult lives.
  • Adults of a healthy weight and fitness level have significantly fewer risk factors when it comes to strokes and heart attacks.

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. 

 

——

5 Ways to Help Students Stay Focused

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Anyone who has braved the perils of babysitting, or who has taken the giant leap into parenting or teaching children knows that keeping young kids attentive, engaged, and focused can be an uphill battle at times. In the best of conditions, research has shown that children between the ages of 6 and 8 have an average attention span of 15-20 minutes. For kids of kindergarten age (around 5 years old), that number drops to only 5-10 minutes. While these numbers might seem low, some researchers also believe that the maximum human attention span is only around 22 minutes, even for teenagers and adults. Compounding the issue of maintaining the focus of young students is the continued growth of ADHD cases in the United States.

As can be assumed, dealing with the struggles of short attention spans and ADHD in an educational setting can be extremely difficult. These days, teachers at nearly every level of education need not only to be well-versed in multiple teaching techniques, but also in how to keep students engaged in a lesson and how to bring them back should they lose their focus. School instructors and caregivers must turn to alternative methods to medication to keep the attention of young children—ADHD is a very real disorder, but more doctors are diagnosing more children with ADHD, even if symptoms are mild, and more medication is being prescribed. For some, medication drastically improves quality of life, but it’s not always the answer and can have unpleasant side effects.

Below we outline five methods that can help keep young students engaged in an educational atmosphere.

1. Implement Active Learning Techniques

In their book “Inspiring Active Learning,” Merrill Harmon and Melanie Toth set forth a plethora of active learning strategies geared toward keeping students thoughtfully and completely engaged in their own education. Some of the basic strategies of active learning include whole class discussions, debates, paired activities, and individual reactions and responses. The main goal is encourage an active, attentive listening and learning environment by making students accountable for their own learning.

2. Use Technology When Possible

The incorporation of multimedia tools to deliver educational messages continues to increase, particularly at lower levels where they can also be leveraged as methods to grab and keep children’s attention. These multimedia tools for educators include Voki, SoftChalk, Screenr, and SMART boards.

3. Have Students Practice Doing Multiple Things at Once

For very young students, this might be singing a song while tying their shoes or listening to a recording while coloring. It might seem counterintuitive to have kids focus on a several tasks at once, but giving them multiple simple tasks to do concurrently can help train their brain to focus more acutely on a set of given tasks. When they have two things to think about, they are less likely to become bored and lose focus.

4. Use Movement

Properly using movement to keep students focused can be an invaluable teaching technique. This is exemplified by our new SPARKabc’s program. SPARKabc’s integrates physical activity into the school day while maintaining an emphasis on student learning. It’s designed for busy teachers with little time, space and equipment to work with. Research by SPARK and countless other trusted health organizations shows an intrinsic link between physical activity student attitude, behavior, and academic performance. The evidence is clear: healthy students are better learners. SPARKabc’s is based on:

  • Standards-based academics
  • Brain development
  • Quality recess
  • Character and nutrition education

Sometimes we forget that kids are naturally inclined to move around and express themselves, and that it’s not something we need to combat—rather, we can embrace this quality and use it to increase the effectiveness of learning and foster academic success and growth in well-being.

5. Don’t Create a Predictable Learning Environment

If students know what to expect from your lessons day in and day out, they can start to disengage from certain parts of a lesson. Keeping students on their toes by mixing up lectures, hands-on activities, group and pair work, multimedia and technology, games, and physical activities will keep them actively engaged in the important information they’re learning.

Keeping students, especially the younger ones, engaged can be a challenge—especially as the number of ADHD cases is on the rise. There are many variables that could be contributing to this trend, but why not refresh our skill sets with techniques to keep kids engaged?