Originally published Aug. 25, 2020 by Buffalo Rising.
By Caila Wagar, Community Health Advocate, Healthy Communities 2030
During a time of so much uncertainty – one thing is certain; children need to stay active. As the pandemic continues to surge across America, more school districts are opting to some form of remote learning. With remote learning comes a lack of critical resources otherwise provided by the school, such as physical education classes.
How important is physical education for children? According to the CDC, when students participate in physical education, their grades and standardized test scores improve, they stay on-task better in the classroom, and increase their overall physical activity level. All in all, physical education helps the brain work better and more effectively, leading children to perform better in the classroom. As the pandemic is causing school districts to adopt remote practices for the upcoming Fall, it is inevitable students will miss out on crucial physical education time.
Some schools have already announced their ideas for supplementation of physical education for students. For example, Buffalo Public Schools announced their intended plan for physical education instruction (page 31) if classes are in-person or remote. In-person physical education which abides to the CDC guidelines, include individual sports/activities rather than group such as dance, sports without equipment, mindfulness, etc. The school district’s suggested curriculum for remote physical education features a variety of online resources and incorporates remote special events (i.e. At-Home Family Field Day).
However, despite the school district’s best efforts to incorporate physical education, children may still be far from the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Both teachers and parents can do their part to help ensure children are staying active during the pandemic.
All teachers can incorporate movement into online learning by adopting some of the following:
- Encourage students to take a 5-10-minute break during long stretches of online learning to engage in an activity of their choice
- Have students share how they are staying active (i.e. walking, running, playing sports)
- Show students different ways to set up your work from home desk, such as a standing desk, and encourage students to change their posture throughout the day
Parents can also help provide their children with physical activity through the following:
- Educate your child on the importance of staying active
- Make physical activity a family routine (i.e. family walks or bike rides)
- Encourage outside play
- Use online videos or virtual fitness classes
- Provide children with high fitness level chores (i.e. vacuuming or sweeping)
As we are amid a public health crisis, physical education is more important now than ever. While classrooms may remain closed this Fall, it does not mean children should remain inside and inactive. Physical activity decreases stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting your immune system and improving overall wellbeing. As this pandemic has placed many parts of our daily life on pause, physical activity among children should not be one of them. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or community member, encourage the children in your world to be healthy and stay active.