Now that school is back in session, everyone is focused on homework, tests, and extracurricular activities. Although these things are important, we must make sure that our children continue to be physically active. Here are a few back to school fitness ideas to keep your kids moving during the school year:
Start an After School Fitness Club
The school librarian and I started a fitness club at my sons’ school. It’s called Boys of Steel and it’s for 4th and 5th grade boys. Once a week, we meet after school to exercise, play sports and have fun with one another. The boys like the interaction and it gives them the opportunity to let off some steam after a long day of learning. While our intent was to teach the boys about fitness, we ended up mentoring them in other aspects of life such as dedication, responsibility, respect and service to others. We even created a chant for our meetings: “We’re fit. We’re real. We’re born to serve. We’re boys of steel.”
Keep Play Part of the School Day
Several school districts have eliminated physical education classes in favor of core curriculum courses. While schoolwork is obviously important for kids’ development, kids also need some physical activity during the school day to release pent up energy and help keep their minds active and sharp, while also creating healthy habits. Recent research by the Physical Activity Council emphatically shows that children who have PE classes are less sedentary and participate in more activities outside of school. Since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, make sure that your kids are getting some active play during their day through recess or physical education classes. If your kids’ school has eliminated or reduced PE classes or recess, talk to administrators and school board members about the importance and benefits of physical activity – ask about the possibility of organized play at recess or volunteer to help create an after-school club.
Participate in Youth Sports
I have coached youth sports for nearly a decade and I’ve seen firsthand how it helps kids to develop confidence, skills and perseverance. It’s amazing to watch a shy, timid child with limited athletic ability blossom into a major contributor to the team. Many organizations like the YMCA or UPWARDS, schools, and community sports leagues offer opportunities for kids to play their favorite sport or to try new sports. It also gives parents an opportunity to volunteer as coaches or officials. If you’re not a volunteer, it is important to attend the games. Children feel empowered when they can look into the stands and see mom and dad cheering them on.
Make Family Fitness a Priority
When we’re not participating in youth sports, my family and I like to do other types of physical activity on the weekends. We may go to the park to play on the playground, run a 5K, ride bikes or just play catch in the backyard. The actual activity is not as important as the time spent together doing something active. This weekend play time gives us a chance to reconnect after a long week of school and work. It also allows us to strengthen our bodies while strengthening our family bonds.
Help Give Others the Chance to Play
Let’s Play works with two non-profits, KaBOOM! and Good Sports to build playground equipment or donate sports equipment for deserving organizations around the country and the community is encouraged to volunteer. It’s a great way to give back while doing some physical activity with your family. Best of all, you are helping to provide the places and tools for kids to enjoy playing on or with for years to come! To get involved, contact your local community center or after school programs to learn about volunteer opportunities in your area.
Join the conversation: What are some of your favorite back-to-school fitness ideas? Leave a comment below and share your back to school fitness ideas with Let’s Play on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Share your play ideas for all seasons on LetsPlay.com.
Disclosure: I am currently serving as a “Play Ambassador” for Let’s Play. This is a sponsored post; however, the opinions expressed are my own. Photo by Lester Spence