The latest statistics bring some discouraging news about our kids’ brains and brawn. Results from international testing show United States children perform moderately at best when it comes to academics, but rank among the highest when it comes to levels of obesity compared to other countries. Current research is consistently finding exercise to have a positive effect on our children’s health and academics. Yet, they seem to be getting less of it, especially while in school.
One of the solutions proposed for raising test scores, the federal No Child Left Behind program, encourages schools to focus on core academic subjects, but at the expense of art, music, and physical education. Yet a Virginia Tech study showed no relationship between reduced class time in those subjects and higher overall standardized tests.
As parents, we want our children to achieve academic success, stay healthy and ensure quality of life as they grow. It is important to take control of your child’s health and encourage exercise on a daily basis. This can be a challenging task with all the time children spend tinkering with technology, but you can help your child discover the benefits and joys of being physically active.
1. Beyond the Playing Field: Organized sports are an excellent way for children to get exercise, however not all children are drawn to them. Activities such as dancing, hiking, bike riding and martial arts are great alternatives. It is important to offer a variety of activities and be patient as your child finds the right fit.
2. Got Game?: Bring out the child in you and join the fun. Children love spending time with their parents and what better time than play time. Take a family hiking trip, go on a bike ride or play a game of tag.
3. Limit Tech Time: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids get no more than one to two hours of screen time a day, whether that’s watching TV, surfing the Internet, or playing video games. Encourage active alternatives such as shooting basketball or going to the park.
4. Lead By Example: Your children look up to you. If they see you making exercise a part of your life, they will choose to make it a part of theirs. Be mindful and walk instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further when shopping to get some extra steps in.
5. Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge your child’s effort when choosing to be active or trying to improve a skill and be supportive.
6. Keep the Fun in Fitness: Children enjoy playing, regardless of their age, so be creative and keep it Fun!