Children should engage in physical activity every day. Research shows that physical activity can help youth improve their concentration, memory, behavior, and academic performance. The recommendation for children is at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. This can be broken up into small segments of 5-10 minutes each. Activity-friendly environments also promote positive attitudes toward fitness and other health–enhancing behaviors. Activity can be introduced into existing routines and transitions, into academic lessons, or introduced as an activity break.
Here are a few Policy, System and Environmental Change (PSE) examples to promote activity in the out of school time environment:
- Jog quietly in place for 5 minutes; stretch to reach the ceiling and touch your toes, do dance moves to a favorite song; march in place; jump with an invisible jump rope or quietly walk around the room.
- Start and end each day with a few minutes of physical activity.
- A staff member could lead students in a short physical activity
- Do an internet search for “brain break and youtube” for a list of additional activity break ideas.
- Work with the students to make up a list of short activities they can do.
- Assign students to be the activity leaders.
- Have students select a monthly theme song to dance in place to each month.
- Role Model Moment – Students love to see you in action! Teachers should participate in the activity breaks with the students.
- Create a “healthy behaviors” section on the bulletin board. Write your healthy behaviors along with the students to continue to motivate each other to make the healthy behavior changes you discuss in class.
- Have students graph a chart showing their daily walking progress as a class and share with other classes in the school.
- Offer non-food incentives for achieving activity goals.
Out of School programs are encouraged to create an awareness of and participate in screen free week. Provide families with tips to add movement and physical activity at home in place of watching or using screens.
Outside Free Play or physical activity breaks offer an excellent opportunity for youth at all age levels to engage in free play or semi-structured physical activity.
Provide age-appropriate equipment for students, have adults encourage students to be physically active, and providing semi-structured activity that involves activity stations (e.g., jump rope, four square, and hopscotch stations).
- Healthy Hopping – Ideas using a jump rope.
- Can’t get outside? https://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/hsmrs/Georgia/rainydayideas.pdf
- Do not withhold free play as a punishment. There are alternatives such as “peaceful playgrounds”.
For even more resources and ideas for fitting physical activity into your aftercare or out of school setting, click here.