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Keeping Kids Active During the School Year

Article Story Mommys Corner  2

If you’re like me, and enjoy the summer breaks only because it means a relaxed state of mind for a couple of months, then you’re also like me and slightly panic once school is about to start. Especially as a mom of boys who are filled with nothing but dirt, cars and what seems to be an endless amount of caffeine (PSA: not actually caffeine). Having very active boys and one with ADHD, it’s no wonder summers seem like a nice break for all of us. It’s their time to live it up in many “no-judgement" zones. That means long days of non-stop activity, knee scrapes, mosquito bites and swimming. Lots and lots of swimming. It’s the few months of the year my 6 year old will actually be calm and exhausted by the end of the day. I know I’m not alone here, as it’s only normal for any kid in this age group to want (and need) the physical activity. Some more than others, but all in all its a necessity us parents can easily push aside once the first day of school hits.

One of the things I personally dread with the return of school are the “talks”. The looks of concern from teachers that he’s just not able to focus and the fidgetiness, my god the fidgetiness! You’d think he was making the whole room shake! I will always respect what teachers speak to me about so as light as I’m trying to make it at the moment, I will always do my best to work with them for the success of my son. However, its tough. He’s a good kid. Really good kid, actually. Sweetest soul with a competitive edge that really drives him to kick ass in anything he does (that he enjoys). So that being said, if you imagined we all had a “gas tank” of energy, he has the latest edition race car with triple gas tank capacity! Wow! What do we do with all this gas…err, energy?? I’m saying this because he does require stimulation to help him refocus, but I don’t think it’s very far off for most kids these days. Doctors and teachers want to jump to medication or settling for the fact that the kid just doesn’t have “it”. But with all the exercise benefits to adults, wouldn’t it only make sense there’s countless benefits to our kids? An underutilized tool to keep our kids active, fit, healthy (mentally and physically), productive and confident!

This brings me to my point that just because summer’s over doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the swimsuits, say goodbye to the active wear and strictly focus on school work. The demands are only growing stronger these days so that’s why it’s our job as parents to give our kids the balance they deserve! Not only may it make a positive impact on their school work but create healthy life habits as well. Here are my top 5 ways of getting back on our BACK TO SCHOOL Routine, with an ACTIVE twist:

  1. Set aside 20 minutes in the morning for exercise. Chances are, days are beginning earlier, much earlier. When planning the time to wake up, consider a 20 minute window to work in some sort of activity. Haven’t you ever gotten in a workout first thing in the morning and can’t help but feel a whole lot better and focused during the day? The same can hold true for our kids. Not to mention, they are expected to give a lot more direct attention and stillness for longer periods of time. Getting out some of that energy first thing can help get their brain clear and ready for a school day! Be prepared to be participating with them in the beginning. Set an example. Some things to do would be: go for a walk/run, structure body weight circuits or include light dumbbells/bands, download an app with lead workouts or simply jump on a trampoline if you have one!
  2. Work in 20-30 minutes of exercise after school. Your kids have been sitting all day, or most of the day. So before you throw em back on the books for homework, make sure they’re taking a nice mental and physical break to recharge for the rest of the day. Whether that’s at home, in the gym or on the basketball courts, encourage them to move in some way. You can even coordinate with some other moms and get some of their friends involved as a group activity. Movement will be especially key after a long day at school!
  3. Sign up for 1 physical activity. Between sports, dance, gymnastics, jiu jitsu, etc there are tons of activities to choose from! Even if they’re not thrilled with the idea, it’s our job as parents to encourage positive habits and that includes a commitment to something physically active. Even if they’re just going through the motions, they won’t even realize the positive effect it will have on their body. Plus with a commitment to be somewhere it leaves little room for guessing and accountability to show up!
  4. Create a schedule of practice. With that sign up, comes the potential to practice on “off” days. Encourage this to not only get the physical activity in, but encourage work ethic and learning to get better at the skill. They may be shocked when they realize one day how great they’ve become at said activity. Talk about a boost of confidence!
  5. Finally, make a game out of it. If your kid is resistant to most of these simple at-home exercises, find a way to make it fun! I’ve personally found on amazon a few options of spicing things up. The first was a set of 2 FITNESS DICE. With this game, one dice will designate the number of reps and the other dice will indicate what exercise you’ll be doing. If you’re like me and get picky, you can cross off one or two and write in your own exercise. (I had to add in squats). The second purchase was EXERCISE PLAYING CARDS by FitDeck. Not only are they playing cards but they’re Superman playing cards. Who doesn’t want to be a super hero?? These cards instantly grabbed my sons attention with a stacked deck of 50 unique exercises, with a superhero twist! If all else fails, create a competitive game and choose 5-10 simple exercises that must be completed in time. Find what you know will work for YOUR child and use that to inspire some productive movement!

With all that being said, remember kids follow what we do and not necessarily what we say. So if there’s any “right” time to get moving, its NOW. Show your kids the way to live a healthy lifestyle by making positive choices in activity and nutrition. You may be surprised once they start imitating things you do, as they are always watching.

Some exercises to try at home:

1. FROG HOPS: Have them squat down to touch the floor. Jump up in an explosive movement to move forward right back into the low squat and repeat immediately. They can go from “Point A” to “Point B” or give them a number to complete.

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2. BUNNY HOPS: Exactly how this sounds, they will stand up straight on their tippie toes bouncing up, moving forward strictly on their toes.

3. HORSEY: These are essentially walking lunges. Taking a big step forward, bend front and back knee to touch the ground.

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4. PUNCHES: Standing up tall, with a slight bend in the knees, keep the core tight. Punch forward with each arm rotating slightly with each punch.

5. CHERRY PICKERS: Lay on the back with legs straight up in the air, feet together. Just like the name says, they will lift shoulders up off the ground (into a crunch) and reach for their toes, “picking cherries”. With each cherry they “pick”, they’ll bring their shoulders back down to the floor and then up to crunch up for the next one.

 

Darielle Singerman

Mom of 3 boys

@DarielleRose