When children are sent to school, the expectation is they will get a quality education preparing them for the future. But for most kids and families, school offers them a lot more than a chance to learn. Schools provide children with an opportunity to eat breakfast and lunch when they may not have that luxury at home, or schools provide children a chance to play sports or have recess that helps them stay active and healthy. Unfortunately, the complexity of COVID-19 has caused many schools to postpone opening for the 2020-2021 school year and many are choosing to do online schooling entirely. So, in this week’s health journal we are going to discuss a few ways to keep your children healthy and active while learning from home.
Healthy Exercise and Recess
Determining how much exercise your child will need depends on their age.Typically they fall into two different age brackets. For children 3-5 years of age, it is recommended that they be physically active throughout the day to help promote proper growth and development. Children 6-17 years of age are recommended to exercise for 60 minutes or more per day, including moderate to vigorous physical activity. Their exercise should include activities that strengthen bones, like running or jumping, at least 3 days a week and activities that build muscles like climbing or doing push-ups 3 days a week. Since at home learning takes away recess or physical education classes, here are some ideas for activities that you and your children can do at home.
- Dancing: This provides a great workout for children of all ages and engages all parts of one’s body. Dancing is a great way to burn calories and help your children get excited and have fun while exercising.
- Balloon Volleyball: This may sound a little scary indoors, but it’s not the normal volleyball you may be thinking of. If you have enough space in your home, try attaching two chairs together with a piece of string or yarn to make a net and blow up a balloon to use as the “ball”. Using the balloon should be safe inside the house and allows your children to practice physical exercise activities like jumping and using their arms to hit the balloon.
- Book-Worm Workout: Children and adults alike love books, so Book-Worm Workout is a nice blend of both reading and exercise. To start, pick a book for you and your child to read and select a word in the book that is often repeated. For example, if you’re reading Pete the Cat, maybe choose the word Pete. Whenever you come across this word in the book, have your child do a jumping jack or some quick physical activity that they enjoy.
Eating at home
School lunch plays a big role for families like we mentioned above, but it’s more than just an opportunity for children to eat for free or at a reduced rate. Eating at school provides children with a chance to eat a healthier option then they might get at home, or at the very least, eat a snack that is a little more health conscious then maybe their favorite bag of chips. With our children staying at home, it’s just as important that they try to start or maintain healthy eating habits that coincide with their ability to exercise. Here are a few quick and easy snack options that have a great number of benefits.
- Walnuts: This bite-sized snack is a great option to help promote heart health while also making you feel full. Walnuts are high in omega-3s and have also been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidation in the arteries.
- Celery and Peanut Butter: Choosing celery is a great option as it’s loaded with nutrients and one large stalk contains only around 10 calories. Celery is effective in lowering blood pressure, aids in digestion and contains vitamin A, which is great for helping keep your eyes healthy.
- Veggie Sticks: If you’re like me, when it comes to snacks I love my chips. It’s hard to a find a suitable substitute but veggie sticks are a great option. Veggie Stix contain an assortment of nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D and B6. B6 by itself is heavily involved in creating a healthy metabolism and also aids in brain development during pregnancy and infancy. This delicious snack is made up of all-natural ingredients, 0 grams of trans-fat and contains 30% less fat than our favorite chips.
With at-home learning, the use of electronics often plays a pivotal role in the process. Electronics like computers and tablets offer children the opportunity to access their curriculum, take tests and log their daily assignments. Even for younger children, the electronics allow them to see things visually on the screen and it gives them access to a more in-depth learning experience. However, too much screen time can be a distraction, so here are some tips to help ensure your children are getting just the right amount of time on the computer.
- Build a schedule: Having set times your children are able to access their electronics can make a dramatic impact on the amount of time they spend on them. Creating an electronic schedule fosters an environment that forces us to find different activities to fill the void in times where we may be bored. Creating a schedule will also help with any at home schooling and instill boundaries for your child so they better understand when it’s work time and when it’s play time.
- Stay Active: Like we talked about above, staying active in an environment where our children are home most of the day is crucial. It helps them stay healthy physically but it also keeps them away from those pesky electronics that can sometimes take up so much of our time.