Like adults, kids need to stay active throughout the day. Active kids feel less stressed, sleep better at night, gain more focus, are more ready to learn, and develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
One way to make sure that children in your care are getting enough movement throughout the day is to incorporate movement into learning. Below is a list of suggested resources. Check them out and get moving!
Steady, incremental improvements are key to success
A long term commitment to improving student health and well-being has earned Pike Township schools the prestigious “National Healthy School Award” from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation — a distinction earned by no other schools in Indiana. Pike achieved this honor in 11 of 13 schools throughout the district in 2016, with the remaining two middle schools expected to achieve the certification by the end of this school year.
The National Healthy School Award honors schools that have met specific best practice standards for school wellness committees, food service and nutrition education, food and beverage marketing, community engagement, health education curriculum, physical education curriculum, recess, in-class activity breaks, before and after school programs, and staff wellness initiatives. Pike achieved the Bronze level of distinction, and can now move toward Silver and Gold levels. Nationally, just 328 schools achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award in 2016.
Recess is a great way to get kids active during the school day, and it has many benefits. School recess has been proven to:
- Increase the amount of physical activity students get each day
- Improve memory, attention, and concentration
- Help students stay on-task in the classroom
- Reduce disruptive behavior in the classroom
- Improve social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate)
But simply putting recess on the schedule doesn't guarantee that students are active during this time each day. School administrators, teachers, support staff, parent volunteers, and others can take simple steps to encourage physical activity during recess:
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and sweets. If you're planning to celebrate Valentine's Day in your home, classroom, or child care, take advantage of the opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:
Healthy Snacks and Treats to Love
Fruit & Vegetable Bouquet
Use heart and flower-shaped cookie cutters to cut fresh fruits and vegetables such as melon and bell peppers. Place them on green skewers and arrange them into a bouquet. Tie together with red or pink ribbon. Students may enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing.
Create healthy sandwiches using whole grain bread and strawberry fruit spread. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out mini heart sandwiches.
Valentine's Day Taste Test
Host a taste test at your party using red fruits and vegetables. Pomegranate, cranberries, apples, blood oranges, raspberries, red peppers and cherry tomatoes are great options. Have students vote on their favorite red fruit and vegetable.
2016 Year in Review - part one in a series of four
The new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect on 2016 and our progress in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. In this series of four Year in Review stories, we summarize some of our most significant accomplishments to date.
Jump IN’s mission is to promote policies and practices that create healthy environments where families and children have real opportunities to make healthy choices and engage in healthy behaviors.Much of Jump IN’s work is grounded in this fact:
Changing the environment is the best way to change behaviors.
Research shows that if healthy nutrition and physical activity policies can be implemented in the places where children and families spend most of their time, their health will likely improve. Here’s how we helped schools, child care centers, worksites, and family homes embed healthy nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in 2016:
When you think about ways to improve student achievement, does providing students with physical activity come to mind? It should. Active students have better concentration, fewer behavior problems, and higher performance on reading, writing, and math tests.
Image from Active Living Research’s “Active Education: Growing Evidence on Physical Activity and Academic Performance,” based on research by Dr. Charles Hillman, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
These two brain images, taken from the top of the head, represent the average amount of students’ neural activity during a test following sitting and walking for 20 minutes. The color blue represents lower neural activity, while the color red denotes higher brain activity in a given region. So students who walked prior to the test showed more brain activity.
Studies show that too many students spend too much time standing around in P.E. class. Innovative P.E. instructors are changing their curriculum to keep students active:
- Less emphasis on competitive team sports
- More emphasis on fun and lifetime fitness skills
- More focus on engaging all students, regardless of athletic ability
- Increased tracking of individual physical fitness with digital tools like FitnessGram
This isn’t your parents’ P.E. class. Trends in physical education include replacing rope climbs and kickball with:
School recess is a highly effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children, because it is a strategy that can reach every student every day. Because of that, all schools should adopt a “No Lost Recess” policy as part of their school wellness plans.
Here’s an example from one school’s recess policy:
- A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity shall be provided by schools for all K-8 students daily. This requirement can be achieved through activities such as recess, dance, classroom energizers, or other curriculum-based physical activity programs. However, this time should complement and not substitute for the physical education program.
- Structured/unstructured recess and other physical activity (such as, but not limited to, physical activity time, physical education, or intramurals) shall not be taken away from students as a form of punishment. In addition, severe and inappropriate exercise may not be used as a form of punishment for students.
Recess helps a child’s ability to process information, pay attention, and remain on-task, so it should not be taken away as a punishment for unwanted behavior or unfinished class work. In fact, the longer the stretch between recess breaks at school, the higher the inattentiveness among students.
What comes to mind when we say, “Marketing food and beverages to children”? Go on, take a second and let some pictures pop into your head.
You thought of all the unhealthy stuff, didn’t you? The advertising campaigns that push sugary drinks with no nutritional value? Fast food? Cute talking animals that sell addictive crunchy things that stain your fingers orange?
What if we told you that you can use the power of marketing in the school lunchroom to improve kids’ eating habits? It’s proven:
- Moving and highlighting fruit on the lunch line increased sales by up to 102%.
- Naming vegetables and displaying the names with the foods made students select them 40-70% more often.
Here’s a look at 7 ways marketing can help you nudge students towards smarter choices at lunchtime:
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but too many kids can’t or don’t eat it. Three out of four teachers say they teach kids who regularly come to school hungry.
Why should your school make breakfast a priority? Students who regularly eat a good breakfast:
- score 17.5% higher on standardized math tests
- have better attendance
- are more attentive and have fewer behavioral problems
- have higher graduation rates
- are more likely to be at a healthy weight.