Posts Tagged ‘Physical Education’


Does Your Physical Education Program Meet Federal Guidelines? [QUIZ]

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Are you a witness to fitness at your school? Take our quiz to see if you clear the hurdle.

Developing a Learning Roadmap – What Is It and How Can It Help?

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Teacher sitting in front of eager students

A learning roadmap is a corporate technique that’s becoming more and more popular in educational institutions.

In the corporate world, it refers to an individual plan for your career and professional development, and in schools it’s much the same. At its simplest, a roadmap will identify milestones that the district, school, educator, or individual student should achieve. Those milestones are broken down into clear steps and components to achieve those milestones.

The learning roadmap can be especially helpful for students and educators to navigate physical education together. But how do you create a learning roadmap, and more importantly, how will it help with your physical education classes?

Developing a Learning Roadmap

A good place to start when developing your learning roadmap is by unpacking the national standards for physical education. With this approach, you can identify the actions of the curriculum outcomes and break them down into smaller parts.

Breaking down each physical education goal into individual components can make it easier to track a student’s progress and to understand where they need to improve. You can even break the learning roadmaps down into visual rubrics that explain in detail what defines progress. This way, you and your students can clearly see the different levels of physical education activities and what is required for each one.

Turning Goals into Components

So, how might you break physical education activities down into clear and effective components?

If the curriculum requires students to participate in 60 minutes of daily exercise, they’ll have to learn how to exercise first. To begin with, they’ll need to learn the basics, from good posture, to running, to throwing. Then, they can mix these basic skills together into different movements or activities, like playing baseball or even a game of tag. Creating a roadmap will allow you to guide your students through this development and inspire your lesson plans along the way.

Another curriculum requirement might be that students showcase fitness literacy, the evidence of which being that they can “demonstrate, with teacher direction, the health-related fitness components.” You could break that down into a spectrum, from a level one student who “cannot list or define the components of fitness,” to a top-level student who “can list the components of fitness and can provide a basic definition of each.”

In this example, the priority becomes teaching the students the components of fitness and their definitions. It helps if you focus your lessons on these components to ensure students reach the overall objective of improved fitness literacy.

How a Learning Roadmap Helps

At the end of the day, a learning roadmap should help schools meet the needs of today’s physical education students and prepare them for their future. This planning tool can be used as a flexible, forward-thinking accompaniment to the traditional curriculum.

As a physical educator, building a learning roadmap will help you define goals for your students, which can be broken down into components that will shape your lesson plans. This will steadily improve students’ understanding of fitness, as well as their overall fitness literacy, ultimately empowering them to take control of their learning. After all, when students have something to work towards, they make more visible progress.

One of the more long-term benefits of adopting a learning roadmap is that students will be ready to bring those skills out of the classroom and into the real world when they graduate. In that sense, the technique comes full circle to the corporate world from where it originated!

Contact SPARK today to speak with our knowledgeable team about other physical education innovations you can incorporate into your classes.

 

7 Approaches to Physical Education Grading

Monday, August 28th, 2017

teacher grading his students work

Gone are the days of rope climbing, forced laps, and now dodgeball. Today, physical education is being used as a tool for students to understand, enjoy, improve, and maintain their fitness and well-being.

But, with such subjective goals, grading can pose a major issue. A lot of educators just don’t like grading; however, some are finding ways to use grades to teach students, rather than label them. The results ensure more flexibility and personalization, which in turn encourages growth and a more comprehensive view of physical education.

Here are 7 approaches to physical education grading that might help you at the end of next semester:

1. Make a Mission Statement

Just like any other goal, to achieve it, you have to set it.

Your department’s mission statement will become the backbone of your program, lessons and grading. It should cover what you do and why you do it. By creating a mission statement that is clear and concise, you have something tangible to share with your students to help them frame the work they’re doing – and the grades they’re receiving.

2. Communicate Objectives

Explaining grades to parents can be a nightmare. How do you provide the evidence behind the grading if there is none?

Try and break down the objectives of your lessons for students and parents, so they can see what exactly is being graded. After all, it’s not just “volleyball,” it’s “teamwork, coordination, strength, speed, and improvement over time.” If this is made clear, they’ll understand that’s what they’re being graded on and not just winning the match.

3. “Unpack” Your Goals

Work with students to “unpack” the curriculum.

Unpacking means taking each outcome and breaking it into smaller, more measurable objectives. Like the example above, “volleyball” can be broken down into several sub-skills, but those can be broken down even further. Coordination, for example, could cover things like proper posture, correct form, accurate hits, etc. Write these out and communicate them to your students for better results.

4. Modify Expectations

Everybody and every body is different, and physical education classes can emphasize this in ways that could embarrass or disadvantage many students.

It’s helpful to modify classes to accommodate students who are overweight, living with a physical disability, or simply uncomfortable with certain exercises. Create an and inclusive environment by adapting lessons and activities, it can improve participation and morale and lead to better overall outcomes.

5. Give Second Chances

If a student tests poorly the first time, try giving them a second chance. This lets you stick to the curriculum and apply the same expectations, but allows the student to learn from their mistakes and ultimately improve their grade.

Using a “request to retest form” puts the students in control of their performance and asks them to consider how they’ll improve before moving forward.

5. Mark for Improvement

Chances are there will be a huge gap between your most athletic students and your least athletic students.

Recognizing not just skill, but improvement over the course of the term, can illustrate more clearly how that student is doing. Whether you use National Standards or your state has its own standards, you’ll already be marking for both progress towards and the achievement of those standards. Now just make sure you’re weighting those two fairly.

6. Reflect

At the end of the day, grades are a part of teaching. They should inform students and their parents about how they are doing and help them move forward.

Grades alone can’t do that, but reflection on that grade can. Engage students in self-assessments following graded exercises like tests or exams, asking questions like, “How did you prepare? Were some parts easier than others? How do you think you could have improved?” This can help them plan for future tests to improve their grades.

You can’t escape the grading system no matter how much you dislike it, but you can make it work to your advantage. By communicating clearly with students and their parents, breaking down objectives, and taking a comprehensive approach to their physical education, you can make grades less of a label and more of a motivation.

Contact SPARK now to speak to our knowledgeable staff about more innovative ideas and expert advice for your PE lessons.

6 Tips for Helping Students Start Healthy Habits

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Little girl eating snack at school

Building new habits is like learning to ride a bike. At first it can be frustrating and it might feel like you’re getting nowhere, but looking back years later, you realize how instinctive it’s become.

Just like riding a bike, healthy habits are a lot easier to master during the school years. And building a framework of healthy habits for young children isn’t just common sense – it’s also backed by science. Studies show that a child’s knowledge base is well developed by the time they’re four or five years old, and habits in children take root by the time they’re nine years old.

Fortunately, as a physical education teacher, you can help your students start healthy habits during this critical time. Read on for our 6 healthy-habit-boosting tips.

1. Build on Existing Habits

Integrating healthy activities into regular routines can help create habits. The school day is already based on a structured routine, giving you lots of opportunities to add in these so-called triggers.

Get your students into the habit of stretching for five minutes at the beginning of every PE class. They can also enjoy a piece of fruit or a vegetable snack and a glass of water at the end of each lesson to refuel. Try asking other teachers at your school if they’d be willing to incorporate these kind of triggers into their classes to promote healthy habits throughout the day.

2. Break Down Big Goals

Goals that are too broad quickly lose their appeal when the goal-setter feels like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Breaking overarching PE goals down into smaller, more attainable steps can help your students feel accomplished and keep them on track towards the larger goals.

Have them identify one big goal for the end of the year – getting stronger, for example – then break it down into smaller weekly goals, like running for 10 seconds longer or doing one more push-up. As they check off each individual goal, they’re one step – or push-up – closer to becoming stronger.

3. Leave Your Students Alone

Parents and caregivers often intervene in children’s activities because they don’t want to see their child do something incorrectly. Teachers are no exception to this tendency.

While you’re there to ensure your students are using proper form and staying on task, sometimes it’s just as important for them try physical activities without constantly being corrected. This helps children gain confidence and independence, so combine hands-on and hands-off teaching for the best results.

4. Lead by Example

Some say imitation is the highest form of flattery. It also happens to be one of the first and best ways children learn.

It’s essential to model the behavior you would like to see reflected in your students. Explain to them how you set and keep your own healthful goals, and show them with your actions. If you want them to eat healthier and get stronger, start by doing these things yourself. Join your students for a nutritious snack during recess, and get involved in some of the activities in your PE class.

5. Encourage Accountability

Receiving reinforcement is one of the best ways to stick to your goals.

As a PE teacher, chances are you’re one of the most reliable sources of accountability for your students when it comes to their healthy habits. Make sure to follow up with students to see how they’re doing with their PE targets and brainstorm ways to keep on track.

You can also get parents involved by having students share their goals with them. Set healthy homework assignments, or ask your students to come up with some simple exercises they can complete with their family.

6. Celebrate!

If your students are reaching their goals, it’s cause for celebration.

Acknowledging past victories can help people stay focused and driven. Try a rewards system of stickers or fun activities as your students check off their personal PE achievements. Recognizing hard work is one of the best ways to ensure your students keep up their healthy habits.

Contact SPARK today and speak with our knowledgeable team about how you can incorporate more healthy habits into your PE classes.

Our 7 Most Popular Articles Published Around the Web

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

young girl plays on the jungle gym

If you frequent the SPARK blog, you’ll know we’re passionate about children’s health and physical activity, but our blog isn’t the only place where we’re sharing our passion.

Our SPARK experts have been spreading their insight and knowledge across the Web for some time now. Because we don’t want you to miss out on any of this helpful information, we’ve rounded up 8 of our most popular articles on the web for you. Read on to find out more about these great examples of our thought leadership.

The Fall of Dodgeball: Why Schools are Removing Competitive Elimination Games from Their PE Curriculum

In this post on Edutopia.org, Jeff Mushkin explores why schools are getting rid of dodgeball and other elimination games. Reasons include a heavier focus on bullying prevention as well as trying to promote engagement from all students throughout entire physical activities. As a Director of Curriculum Development for Sportime featuring SPARK, Mushkin provides expert advice on the types of games and activities that can be used to replace dodgeball in PE lessons.

Is Gamification the Next Step in Physical Education?

Jeff Mushkin looks at the concept of gamification, which is the idea of introducing gaming principles to non-game activities, and how it can be incorporated into physical education programs. Discover his innovative ideas in this interesting piece on Edutopia.org.

Fit Vacation: How to Add Healthy Activities to Your Family Vacation

Vacations are a perfect time to relax, but they also pull you out of your normal routine. This usually means that your fitness goals are put on hold until you get back, but the good news is, they don’t have to be. With these tips from Dr. Kymm Ballard on The Active Times, you can head off on vacation knowing how to keep the whole family healthy while away from home.

Physical Activities that Provide Kids with Lessons in Leadership

Leadership is a skill kids can learn in multiple areas of life, from the classroom to the playing field to home. In this article on The Leadership Program, Dr. Kymm Ballard offers ideas on ways parents, teachers, and communities can get kids involved in physical activities that teach and nurture leadership skills.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Physical Education As Punishment

It’s not uncommon to see physical activity used as a punishment, particularly by teachers or coaches. One common example is requiring students to run extra laps. While this form of punishment can be effective, it comes with its downsides, too. In this post on TeachThought, Dr. Kymm Ballard discusses the problems with using physical education as a form of punishment, and how it can affect students and their relationship with physical activity later on in life.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise?

Today, only one in three children are physically active on a daily basis, and an estimated 13 million youth in the US are obese. Could your child be among those who aren’t getting enough activity? In this piece on The Active Times, Dr. Kymm Ballard covers the statistics and national fitness guidelines on youth health. She also discusses what types of exercise your child should be getting and strategies to get them moving.

4 Habits Kids Should Learn to Become Healthy Adults

Forming habits takes time, but it helps to get a head start. If you want to set your child up for a healthy adulthood, get them started with the right attitude at a young age. Adults who ate healthier in their childhood, for example, tend to show better health later in life than their counterparts. This post on CaliDiet shows you how to develop important healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Visit SPARK’s blog today to discover more insightful articles on children’s health and fitness.

Taking the Fear Out of Physical Education

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

A woman trainer at the gym helps her student lift weights.

An educator’s job goes beyond ensuring students learn particular facts and develop certain skills. Instead, educators play a critical role in instilling their students with a love of learning, discovery and exploration.

Ideally, an enthusiastic and skilled educator can help a student not only remember the year the Constitution was written or the Civil War broke out, but also imbue them with a sense of wonder and make them want to learn more about history.

Yet physical education is a subject where many educators can inadvertently have the exact opposite effect, making their students flee from the subject. Negative experiences in gym class as a child can make a person less likely to engage in physical activity as an adult.

What can physical educators do to ensure their classes are the start of a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity? And how can adults who are still intimidated by negative experiences in gym class learn to love exercise for the first time?

What Educators Can Do for Students

A bad physical education teacher doesn’t only scare kids away from gym class — he or she can also make them throw in the towel for the rest of their lives.

A 2009 study in the academic journal Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise found negative experiences in gym class as children keeps people far away from team sports for years. As one study participant said, “[physical education] robbed me of the joy of physical activity for many years…It destroyed my physical confidence.”

Another study examined the practice of picking teams in physical education class, and found this caused “real and long-lasting harm to people’s psyches and their physical activity participation levels.”

Doing the wrong thing can cause a lot of harm. So, what are the right things that physical educators should do?

Keep the Goal in Mind

As a physical educator, sometimes it’s easy to forget what the end goal is. Teaching children sports is not the end goal — teaching them teamwork and physical coordination and improving their physical strength and health are the end goals. Sports are one means to this end.

Keeping this in mind will change the way you approach teaching physical education. It will minimize the importance of winning and losing, and will help you adopt more creative ways of teaching skills.

Consider the example of teaching a child to dribble a basketball. The important thing is not that they know how to dribble a basketball; rather, it’s that they improve their hand-eye coordination. Having them dribble through a course of pylons is one way of helping them improve their hand-eye coordination, but there are many other drills and activities that can use a basketball to achieve the same ends. The trick is finding the activities that your students will find enjoyable rather than excruciating.

Make It Fun

The thought of physical activity shouldn’t induce feelings of apprehension or fear. It should be fun! A 2014 study of youth athletes found the overwhelming reason they played sports was because it was fun. When it’s no longer fun, the main reason to play is gone.

An important way to keep sports and physical activity fun is to minimize attention on outcomes. Avoid keeping score. Offer positive reinforcement. Make having fun a more important goal than winning. Emphasize self-improvement rather than competitiveness. Encourage your students to do better at a physical activity than they did the time before, rather than comparing them to other students.

These are particularly important principles when teaching physical education at the younger ages, but the overarching goal of encouraging fun is important to keep in mind at all ages.

Remember That Your Attitude Matters

Physical educators are often people who care a lot about sports and take profound satisfaction in athletic achievement. Sometimes this makes them too quick to push children harder and farther than children are ready to go.

Remember, the role of a physical educator is different than that of a coach. Children don’t need a drill sergeant, they need an educator who cares about creating a safe and fun environment for them to learn.

With your words and actions, demonstrate that effort is more important than perfection, and fun is more important than winning. Your attitude will set the tone for the class, and ultimately make a huge difference in how your students feel about physical activity.

Think Beyond Sports

Sports are great, and team sports in particular impart many important skills. All the same, some students will not gravitate towards sports as much as to other physical activities. It is important for them to understand that physical activity is not limited to competitive sports.

Introduce your students to other physical activities like dance, wall climbing, archery, aerobics, yoga and outdoor activities like canoeing. You’ll broaden their understanding of physical activity and make it more likely they hit on an activity they’ll enjoy enough to make a lifelong hobby.

Eliminate Picking Teams

One last suggestion: don’t let your students pick teams. Students who are picked last describe the experience as embarrassing, alienating and frustrating. It can invoke strong feelings of sadness, shame and even anger.

None of these are emotions you want your students to associate with physical education. When playing sports, make the teams yourself. As the educator, you will probably be much better at creating teams and making for a more enjoyable experience for the entire class.

How Adults Can Overcome Negative Experiences

If you’ve had a bad childhood experience with physical education, it can shape the way you view physical activity for the rest of your life. You may feel intimidated by the very idea of going to the gym or joining a sports team.

There a few ways you can overcome these feelings. For example, if you want to begin weightlifting, but find the gym an intimidating place, you can set up a home gym. Another option is to could go the gym with someone you trust, who can help make you feel more at ease. Even doing a few sessions with a personal trainer can help many people feel more comfortable.

It’s also worthwhile to think about the activities you have negative associations with. If you found team sports stressful and unenjoyable, consider trying solo sports like cycling, golf or swimming.

Don’t let a bad gym teacher from your childhood ruin a lifetime of physical activity. There is an incredible range of physical activities suited to everyone’s skills and interests. Find the one that you’ll enjoy today to have a healthy hobby for life.

A Parent’s Guide to Physical Education Programs in Schools

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

physical education

American children aren’t getting the physical activity they need. Only a third of children are physically active on a daily basis, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Taking action during the summer break can set your kids up for quality physical education when the school year begins. Read on to discover the questions parents frequently ask to better understand PE programs in schools so they can elicit real change.

What’s the Difference Between Physical Activity and Physical Education?

It’s a common mistake to assume the terms “physical activity” and “physical education” refer to the same thing. Though both contribute to a child’s healthy development, the terms are not interchangeable.

Physical activity is a behavior. It refers to any sort of movement of the body. Children may engage in physical activity during gym class, at recess or at home. Physical education, on the other hand, refers to a subject in school that includes physical activity in the curriculum. Physical education classes teach through physical activity. Some skills taught in PE include teamwork, social interaction and motor skills — all while improving students’ fitness.

What Does a Comprehensive Physical Education Program Require?

Implementing a comprehensive physical education program into schools is an approach that allows students to build a strong relationship with physical activity that will encourage them to remain active throughout their lives.

School districts that use a comprehensive physical education program begin with physical activity as the foundation of their program. Through a multi-component approach, the school works to engage the students in physical activity by involving the staff, the students’ family and the community. PE class isn’t the only time kids should be up and moving. A comprehensive physical education program includes physical activities before, during and after school to help kids reach the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

How Can I Assess a Physical Education Curriculum?

Before you take action to help improve your child’s physical education program, it helps to first assess where the school’s physical education curriculum stands and how it could be improved.

That’s where the PECAT and HECAT come in. These stand for the Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) and the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT). These tools have been created and provided by the CDC to help individuals see how their school’s physical education curriculum stacks up against the National Physical Education Standards.

How Can I Advocate Better Physical Education at My Child’s School?

After assessing the PE curriculum at your child’s school, you may want to get involved with changes to the program. We suggest doing so in three steps, by advocating, ensuring and insisting.

Start by making sure your voice is heard. Talk with school officials and become a part of your school’s parent-teacher organization. Rally together other parents who feel strongly about your cause. Advocate for daily physical education taught by a PE teacher with the proper credentials.

Second, ensure teachers are working with the parents and administration to build a curriculum that aligns with these physical education goals. Meet with your child’s PE teacher to discuss your concerns and ideas, and then bring the solution to other teachers who can help their students enjoy physical activity in the classroom.

Finally, insist that teachers in every grade have access to the resources they need to achieve these goals. That means they need professional development opportunities and training programs that will teach them the content and strategies to execute their part in an effective comprehensive PE program.

By getting involved this summer, you can help build a better and more well-rounded PE program ready for when your child returns to school in the fall.

Announcing the Inclusive PE Workshop Contest Winner!

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

PE Class

In partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we hosted the Sportime featuring SPARK Inclusive PE Workshop Contest to provide schools with a chance to win a new SPARK Inclusive PE Workshop, Guidebook, and Sportime Equipment Package. The hands-on Inclusive PE Workshop provides strategies to create an inclusive environment, adapt activities and equipment, and accommodate students during skill-based instruction. Entries were open 3/14/17 – 4/30/17.

We received over 400 entries for the Inclusive PE 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!

Palm Valley Elementary

Litchfield Park, Arizona

Application submitted by: Kelly Jordan, Physical Education Teacher

 

Palm Valley Elementary implemented “Inclusion Revolution” during the 2015-2016 school year to create a more inclusive environment throughout the school. The school also practices Reverse Mainstreaming in the Adapted PE class, so non-disabled peers join Adapted PE as tutors. The peer tutors provide physical support and positive social interactions. While the physical education program has strong administrative support, the school faces challenges with limited professional development for teachers working with students with disabilities.

“The opportunity for our physical education staff to attend the Inclusive PE Workshop focused on our students with disabilities will be incredibly beneficial…it will help us better meet the needs of all the students that we educate through the creation of a more inclusive environment where all students can be successful. Overall, this opportunity would benefit the thousands of students that attend schools in our district through the creation of a more inclusive environment in PE class where students are supported, practice healthy habits, create positive relationships with peers, and increase physical activity. The hope is that the successes and the acceptance of students with disabilities will continue throughout the rest of our schools and in the entire school district, which in turn will make a positive impact into our community.”  — Kelly Jordan, PE Teacher at Palm Valley Elementary

Palm Valley Elementary is planning their Inclusive PE Workshop for September so that the teachers can begin implementing the SPARK Inclusive PE resources with the new school year.

The Winning School Receives:

Total award value = over $3,500!

Looking for funding for your school’s Inclusive PE program? Search for funding opportunities on the SPARK Grant-Finder.

 

4 Fun Lesson Plans to Keep Kids Active During Physical Activity Month

Monday, May 15th, 2017

 

Kids learning from teacher while sitting in a circle

Today, many schools are reducing their opportunities for physical activity, limiting recess, restricting physical education lessons, and keeping youngsters anchored to their desks for hours each day. Although this might seem like the easiest way to ensure a constant focus on academics, research indicates that physical activity and cognition go hand in hand.

May is officially recognized as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. That makes now the perfect time for schools across the country to begin re-assessing their options for encouraging activity inside and outside of the classroom.

In the past, we at SPARK have drawn attention to the fact that students at every level desperately need movement to thrive in any school setting. Read on to discover some of our simple and effective lesson plans for instant and ongoing classroom physical activity you can start using today.

1. STEM Fitness Training

“STEM” Fitness Training lesson plans focus on fun facts about science, technology, engineering and math, while encouraging physical movement. Using a combination of markers, STEM Fitness Training cards and up-tempo music, teachers can encourage their students to actively pursue a deeper understanding of crucial topics as they get their blood pumping.

STEM Fitness Training involves quick cues, challenges and in-depth discussions between students as they move through aerobic fitness segments that support the mind/body connection. Try using SPARKabc’s Instructional Materials, which include three years of access to SPARKabc’s materials, along with STEM integration solutions, task cards and teaching resources.

2. Social Studies Fitness Relay

The Social Studies Fitness Relay lesson plan looks at the eight basic locomotor skills and helps develop peripheral vision in students. Using markers, the Social Study Fitness Relay state list and state cards, teachers can encourage children to expand their minds and enhance their understanding of crucial topics, while building a healthy vision.

As students spend more time staring at screens with their eyes fixed in distant vision mode, peripheral vision enhancement can help strengthen their eye muscles and improve reading comfort. The instructional materials set contains all the resources educators need to introduce Social Studies Fitness Relay solutions into their classrooms.

3. Nutrition Mix-Up

The Nutrition Mix-Up lesson plan teaches children about the five crucial “MyPlate” food groups, while promoting physical activity. The objective is for each student to identify themselves as a different food. They will then move quickly from one spot to another when the teacher calls their group.

Nutrition Mix-up is a fun and simple lesson solution that helps teachers emphasize the important connections between exercise and diet. The goal is to improve the positive relationships that children have with movement and healthy food, as well as to highlight the impact these elements have on their development and cognition. The Healthy Kids Challenge Wellness Solutions Toolkit can be an incredible supplement to the Nutrition Mix-Up, or any other nutrition-focused lesson plan.

4. Active as Soon as Possible Activities

A full lesson doesn’t need to center around physical activity in order to get students moving. Sometimes teachers will be able to recognize that their students are losing focus or becoming restless. And that’s where Active as Soon as Possible (ASAP) plans come into play. You can incorporate ASAP activities into the lesson plan around the times when children begin to become most lethargic. Each teacher should be able to pinpoint the perfect timing for their class.

Activities such as Invisible Jump Rope and Go Bananas! shake children out of their mid-day slump and get their hearts pumping. The rush of activity ensures an oxygen boost to the brain, which promotes energy and concentration. SPARK musical collections and instructional materials can help craft exciting ASAP activities to engage and revitalize students.

Planning for Physical Activity

As research continues to show the importance of physical activity in relation to brain function, it’s easy to see why teachers should incorporate more movement into their lesson plans. With physical activity lesson plans, educators can ensure that health and fitness don’t take a back seat to education. Instead, academics and activity can blend seamlessly together in an environment that encourages healthier development and better learning for children of all ages.

5 Ways to Promote Physical Activity Month at Your School

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Young kids in gym uniform follow gym instructor

Today, most parents and educators alike know that children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. While encouraging children to spend an hour being active might not seem like much of a challenge, the truth is that we’re living in a world where youngsters are spending more time glued to television screens and rooted to classroom desks.

Around 3 out of 4 children are getting less than an hour of physical activity each day. This problem can link back to a reduced number of physical education classes, diminished recess opportunities, and the fact that children are spending around 30 hours per week on “screen time.”

May is “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month,” which makes it the perfect time for schools to start prioritizing activity and introducing the benefits of regular movement to their students. Here are 5 ways you can celebrate the advantages of an active lifestyle at your school to help develop a culture of fitness for the future.

1. Introduce In-Lesson Physical Activity

Today, school administrators across the United States are restricting opportunities for physical activity in classrooms. In an effort to push more focus on academic achievement, recess has fallen to minutes per day, and physical education classes are becoming increasingly less frequent.

Unfortunately, research suggests that P.E. and recess aren’t just crucial for fighting obesity and other common weight-related health problems, they’re also essential for boosting cognitive development. Regular physical activity promotes greater circulation and blood flow throughout the body, helps to enhance focus, and assists children in performing better academically. One way for teachers to overcome this issue is to build physical activity into their lesson plans.

During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, educators can begin introducing STEM Fitness Training and Social Studies Fitness Relays, designed to get children up and moving while they learn. These solutions can make lessons more fun and engaging, while combining academic achievement with physical fitness.

2. Celebrate Fitness with Special Events

All children love a chance to celebrate something – even physical activity. That’s why National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a great time to get them involved with special days and community events. On May 10, children from around the country can join families and community partners by walking or biking to school. Schools across the U.S. can register their 2017 event to enter into free prize draws for helmets and bikes.

Alongside a “bike or walk to school” day, you can also encourage parents and students in your school to help you come up with additional events and fundraisers. From a jog-a-thon to a hula hooping money-raising event, the whole community can get involved with exercise-friendly fun. What’s more, these fundraising opportunities will give you a chance to build the cash you need to invest in new materials that can help put fitness first.

3. Invest in New Materials

Sometimes, improving the active culture in a school environment is all about making sure you have the right resources. There are various low-cost and high-reward materials available that are already aligned to national and state physical education standards.

Digital programs, music, and even simple task cards can help teachers start developing new curriculums and lesson plans for a more active future. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, schools could examine the resources they already have by reaching out to fitness experts in the community and the school. A little investment and some research could open the door to dozens of new and healthy educational programs.

4. Get Creative

We’ve already established that teachers don’t need to restrict physical activity to P.E. lessons and recess. The time between lessons can be used to ensure physical activity throughout the whole day, without detracting from instructional periods. For instance, you could:

  • Use fitness activities to get students moving during advisory or homeroom periods.
  • Play uplifting music to promote movement during breaks.
  • Make exercise programs available during lunch periods, as well as before and after school.

5. Encourage Students to Take Charge

Finally, remember that National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is the perfect time for teachers and parents to encourage students to take charge of their own healthy habits. If educators can help children understand the benefits of regular movement and offer interesting ways for them to get active, they’ll be more likely to try it.

Students Taking Charge” is the Action for Healthy Kids framework that allows high school students to find ways to create and lead their own projects for nutrition and physical activity initiatives with help from adults and teachers. Student teams can build their own programs from scratch and transform the way they look at fitness with groups and activities that appeal to them.

In a world where it’s becoming more difficult to engage students in physical activity, allowing them to take control of their fitness is the perfect way to promote positive habits. Don’t miss out on all the advantages of promoting National Physical Fitness and Sports Month at your school.