Many people are concerned about how high stakes testing is pushing out the arts, music, and physical education in schools. Another loss is recess. Kids need time to run, jump, play, negotiate, and engage in creative and self-directed play. We recently read an article about this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/07/the-right-and-surprisingly-wrong-ways-to-get-kids-to-sit-still-in-class/) and it struck a cord. As a teacher several years ago, exercise quickly became a way of deflecting discipline. If a kid (or kids) started to act up, we would all stand up, go outside, and run a couple of races or do a silly dance. Taking just a few minutes to jump, run, or act silly would usually ensure that we could get through the rest of the class without a disciplinary disruption. Kids so often get in trouble because they just can’t sit still for one more minute. They aren’t bad kids, they aren’t trying to ruin the lesson, and they aren’t out to get the teacher. They are just tired of sitting still and paying attention. Many teachers dealt with this by incorporating lessons into games of baseball or studying for a test by doing jumping jacks after every correct answer. So many creative teachers and so many creative ideas. Yet, many are increasingly hampered by the push to get so much done in so few hours. I think (and I know many others do as well) that focusing on the whole child while pushing for high standards is the only future we have in education. Exercise is one important tool we have to keep in our toolbox.
Ideas for movement at home:
- Make cleaning up time a physical activity. If you have very hyper kids, have them put a toy away and then run up and down the stairs before putting the next toy away. Time them and keep track of progress.
- Create a homework scavenger hunt. If your child has three or four items to complete, hide them in four different places. After finishing the work, kids can ask for the clue about where their next activity is hidden!
- Build a morning obstacle course. For example: first, brush teeth, then crawl under the bed, come out and get dressed, fun up and down the stairs three times, put on your shoes, run and touch a chair in every room in the house, put your backpack by the door and do ten push-ups, jump up and try to touch the ceiling and then run to the table for breakfast.
- Punishment exercise. Let your child choose his or her punishment for fighting with siblings or talking back! Twenty pushups for fighting with a sibling, 20 jumping jacks for talking back, ten sit-ups for a bad attitude. Better yet, do sit-ups until you have a GOOD attitude!
- Make laundry into a special game. Set up a basket and a foul line and kids must throw their dirty items into the basket (if they miss they have to try again).
Do you have any other ideas about how to get kids moving in your house? Post them below!