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February 21, 2018

Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Did you know that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month?

It takes 30 days to form a habit, and May has 31 days, so, that’s (nearly)…PERFECT!

Stop what you’re doing right now —and, if you are physically able, get up and go run around your house, or building.

GO! I’m not kidding, GO!

How long did it take?

How do you feel?

Just got back, and here’s how I’m feeling:

  • embarrassed
  • happy
  • slightly out of breath
  • motivated
  • better able to concentrate

ROI (Return on Investment)

Besides the embarrassment factor, the increased feeling of happiness, motivation and better concentration are good returns on my investment. For the amount of time it took me to run around the building, I was paid back with better concentration, more motivation, and—I feel happier—bring on those endorphins! Not bad for a six minute investment.It takes30 days to create a habit-May’s your month!

Reciprocal Learning

One of my roles at Learners Edge is to evaluate coursework. Currently, I am evaluating coursework for Course 5853: A Moving Body, A Thinking Brain. As I evaluate, I feel privileged to learn from teachers around the nation who are sharing concerns about the physical fitness of their students.

Kindergarten teachers are saying the pressures of standardized testing and academics makes it feel as though they are teaching first grade. Educators are alarmed to see free play disappearing from classrooms. Students are being asked to sit still and “not fidget,” while recess is declining. More and more students are diagnosed with ADHD and our nation faces an obesity epidemic.Even with these added pressures and free play disappearing, there is good news coming through in the teacher coursework too.Here is a sampling from what teachers are learning about physical fitness, movement, play, and sports in A Moving Body, A Thinking Brain:

  • Play is not a break from learning, it IS LEARNING
  • Asking my students to sit still is developmentally inappropriate
  • It doesn’t make sense to ask children to learn to read when their bodies are developing their vestibular (balance) system. Or, in other words “It’s hard to concentrate on reading when you’re standing on a tight rope!”
  • My students fidget because their bodies are designed to move
  • Movement and play are how children’s brains get wired for learning
  • Instead of asking my students to “sit still, stop moving,” I’m changing the way I approach my classroom. I am incorporating movement into my lessons!
  • I am sharing my course learning with the parents of my students. I know if I educate parents about child development they will support my efforts.
  • Children learn bilateral, homolateral, and lateral midlines through physical fitness, movement and play.
  • Let’s swing the movement pendulum back to where it belongs!
  • Taking away recess is a mistake—typically, it’s the student that needs recess the most!
  • If you want kids to be still, you’ve got to get them moving.
  • Free play boosts imagination, cooperation, and leadership.
  • It’s my goal to educate our administrators about child development.

As educators, I believe it is our responsibility to learn about movement and play—to champion it through its incorporation into our lessons. In addition, I believe it is our responsibility to educate others regarding what the research says about the importance of play in the classroom as well as the importance of movement and physical activity throughout the day with parents, administrators, colleagues, and students.

As adults, we need to play and be fit, too! At what age do we transition from playing to working out?

In celebration of NationalPhysical Fitness and Sports month, try one, (or all!) of the following: (do it for 30 days and it will become a habit!)

  • On the playground, instead of watching, participate. Throw a ball, spin a rope, slide down a slide, swing on a swing.
  • Take the stairs. Drink water instead of soda. Use an exercise ball instead of a chair. Eat lunch outdoors w/ a colleague. Try a stand-up desk.
  • Grab a friend and a bat and a ball and have batting practice at a nearby park. When’s the last time you batted a ball? (What a stress reliever!)
  • Go for a walk. Anywhere. And I mean, anywhere. Instead of parking outside the door of your school or office, park across the parking lot. All of those steps add up!
  • When your students or kids go outside, go with them. Stop what you’re doing (grading papers, laundry, watching The Voice) and GO PLAY!
  • If you’re a walker, start wogging. Yes, walk-jogging. Walk until you feel like jogging, jog until you feel like walking.
  • Get out your bike, pump up the tires and bike around the block. Repeat.
  • If your child plays a sport, join then at practice and volunteer your assistance (or coach!).

How can you optimize student engagement to help get everyone moving?

Checkout this Tool Kit, specifically created to help you promote Physical Fitness and Sports Month!

The Tool Kit includes information about the following:

  • The benefits of physical activity
  • How to spread the word about National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (sample tweets, ecards, newsletter, listserv, media release web badges)
  • How to get involved
  • Resources

For other suggestions on ways to celebrate Physical Fitness and Sports Month with your students, and other resources, check out the following links:

I have to go. I’m heading out for my walk-jog now. 🙂

Want to learn more about how you can incorporate play into your classroom? Then, join us for a conversation with Minnesota’s own Katy Smith–parent educator and 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year! In this FREE, on-demand webinar, Katy discusses what the research says about the importance of play in early childhood education, how loss of play is affecting our students, her ideas for getting play back into the classroom, and how YOU can become a play advocate!


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