In our previous post, we shared some extensive research about the link between better academic performance and physical fitness. At the end of the day, kids who are more physically active throughout the school day perform better at academic tasks overall. In this post, we will share some tips for integrating more physical activity into your child’s daily routine. So why should we as parents and educators really care? Because the research says so! As funding for physical education programs are cut and kids spend less and less time outside, it is so important that we help enhance their learning with adequate exercise.
How can we integrate physical activity and learning?
We know that great learning and physical fitness go hand in hand, so how can we better integrate these two crucial elements into the daily lives of students, both in school and at home? Here are some tips on keeping your kids fit and learning well:
- Daily Physical Activity (DPA) – many schools today are including this in their daily routine. We know that we all benefit from physical activity, so teachers are taking their classes outside for recess longer or adding extra daily physical activity to their weekly routine. Signing your children up for team or individual sports or dancing is also a great way to add to their daily dose of DPA and develop key skills like collaboration and communication while getting them moving
- Take a break – some students can spend hours on homework, projects or preparing for exams. Sitting in one place and staying sedentary for long periods of time can have negative effects on our health. When physical activity is used as a break from academic learning time, benefits include better attention (Grieco et al., 2009; Bartholomew and Jowers, 2011), increased on-task behaviors (Mahar et al., 2006) and improved academic performance overall (Donnelly and Lambourne, 2011). Have your kids take frequent desk breaks, take a walk and stay hydrated for optimal learning! For more tips on how to make homework more engaging, check out Pragma Mamma’s article here
- Unconventional teaching methods – traditionally, student are expected to sit still and work quietly at their desks. Today, there are many unconventional ways that teachers can incorporate physical activity into the classroom. We know that sitting at a desk for long periods is not good, so teachers are getting creative with lesson plans and integrating more movement into the curriculum. Teachhub.com lists their top 12 classroom fitness activities here and includes students doing jumping jacks instead of raising their hands to answer a question, standing at desks rather than sitting, acting out stories or scientific methods and more!
- Adopt a daily routine – eating well, getting enough rest and incorporating daily exercise into a child’s routine can all contribute to a successful learning strategy. Experiment with different types of exercise as people will have unique preferences. Some kids may be drawn to high adrenaline activities such as mountain climbing or competitive sports whereas others may benefit more from yoga or meditation classes. Whatever your sport, staying active is key!
It is obvious based on mountains of empirical evidence that our education system needs to include more structured and unstructured physical activity time into the daily routines of students. The effects and benefits on academic performance are clear – kids who are active learn better and achieve success both in and outside of the classroom. Get your kids moving today!