School has started in some shape for all of us now, and families are navigating uncertain waters together. Whether we send our children to school with masks or we supervise them at home in front of their computers, our kids’ safety is paramount to all of us. Michelle Sterling, St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Specialist, shares ways to keep our children’s health and wellbeing at the forefront during the months ahead.
“Get the wiggles out,” Sterling advises. Especially if you’re e-learning or homeschooling, make sure your kids are taking brain breaks—preferably heart-pumping ones that get the blood flowing. Without scheduled recess or changing classrooms, opportunities to move are minimized and we have to create them for our children. If you have a reluctant youngster on your hands, let them choose. By giving them ownership and allowing them to pick the activity, whether it be a walk, a swim or a game of hopscotch, they will be more enthusiastic about participating.
Here are 9 activities parents can do with their kids at home to keep them moving:
- Stretch every day or take your little ones through some yoga poses. This will also help with back and posture issues.
- Lead your kids through a modified session of Tabata training. Named for the Japanese researcher who invented the exercise method, Tabata calls for 20 seconds of intensely doing an exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for a total of four minutes. Try doing this with your littles with jumping jacks or burpees.
- Take your students outside for a nature scavenger hunt in between computer times. Make them lists of things to observe—during quarantine, many neighborhoods set up stuffed animals in windows for little ones to spot. This being Florida, chances are that September will still feel like the height of summer. Remember that children’s bodies heat up faster than adults’ do, so make sure your little ones wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion to look out for include headaches, nausea, raised body temperature, dizziness or fainting.
- Encourage budding photographers by asking them to document walks through their or your phone cameras. It gives them a reason to get out and will give you some sweet glimpses of the world through their eyes. While walking, remind children to stop at signals and look left-right-left before crossing.
- Competitive families can set up a family fit challenge. Assign “fitness points” to be earned through the week by doing various activities and give the winner a prize at the end of the week.
- Create a backyard fitness course or Ninja challenge by using hula hoops, jump ropes or other simple pieces of equipment you have around the house.
- Hit the pool! Whether you have a backyard pool or your community pool is open again, let your kiddoes work off an hour of math or science by frolicking in the water. This is also a great time to sign up for swimming lessons if your child hasn’t learned how to swim already. While at the pool, remember the following tips!- Never swim alone; always have a buddy
– Assign a designated water watcher, an adult whose only job is to keep an eye on the kids in the pool, with no distractions like cell phones or conversation
– Don’t rely on water wings or floaties; they are not a substitute for knowing how to swim
– Install fences and safety alarms around pools
- Grab a pack of Uno cards. Assign an activity to each color. When it’s time for a break from the computer, have your child draw a card and do the number of that activity corresponding to the card. For example, a green “4” might call for four jumping jacks, and a red “8” for eight toe-touches.
- Go for a bike ride. Encourage your children to go online with you to search out new local trails and then head out. Even a simple ride around the block during a short break can make a big difference. Always make your child wear a helmet. Here’s how to make sure they fit properly:- There should be a space of about two finger widths across the forehead
– Straps should form a V over the ears
– The strap should be snug under the chin but not so tight the child cannot talk
– When the child shakes their head from side to side, the helmet should fit tightly