How Schools Can Build Physical Activity Into Classroom Instruction

The length of physical activity that health experts recommend students get each day is 60 minutes. In the current environment, most are lucky if they get close to that.

Instead of enjoying lengthy periods of recess on playgrounds and fields, millions of students have been confined to home spaces under virtual or hybrid models and sit in front of computer screens for hours. Even those who have in-person learning environments have had play time reduced.

However, there are strategies to ensure that student wellness and that 60-minute mandate are met. It involves a creative, unorthodox twist – the integration of physical activity into classroom instruction.

Taking even a 2- to 5-minute breather for stretching, a scavenger hunt or a mini dance party can be the elixir students need to maintain their overall health and be more productive.

Plus, in this COVID-confining environment, it can be a powerful tool to bring students together and reduce stress, anxiety and social isolation, Holmes says.

Springboard of Support

Springboard to Active Schools is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Schools. It works with national partners to provide resources, materials, and training for education professionals to keep students healthy and active during the pandemic.

Among them are a pair of new resources that provide sweeping recommendations to schools on how to implement successful physical activities into instruction, including Considerations for classroom physical activity during COVID-19.

They also unveiled Classroom Physical Activity Ideas and Tips, which provide strategies to get students out of their chairs and be active. The ideas are presented on 16 cue cards, which can be downloaded and printed from their website. Among the ideas:

  • Vote with your feet. An already popular tool, educators can turn simple Q&As with students into physical activities by asking them to stretch and move their arms and legs in different positions when providing responses or when answering true-or-false questions.
  • Crazy Eights. A teacher can turn on some music and get students moving by asking them to do an announced activity eight times, maybe jumping jacks or arm circles. Switching to a different set of eight can increase physical time.
  • Scavenger hunt. A teacher can give students one minute to find an item within their space (while being safe, of course) that has particular meaning.  Or they might turn it into a classroom assignment by asking them to find three books – maybe one they’ve read and liked, one they haven’t and one they hope to not read again.

Health Resources in Action notes any physical activity integration should start by address four areas:

  1. Creating a culture of physical activity
  2. Ensuring approaches are equitable and inclusive
  3. Adhering to health and safety protocols
  4. Following the national guidance

For teachers that means being inclusive, knowing demographics of students, whether they have the physical space at home to pull off certain activities and whether or not social distancing can be done in a class setting. Teachers also should be mindful of students with disabilities, who may be able to participate in certain activities but not others. Educators should encourage caregivers working at home with students to get involved.

Excerpted from “How schools can build physical activity into classroom instruction” in District Administration. Read the full article.

Source: District Administration | How schools can build physical activity into classroom instruction, | © 2020. District Administration

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