This post is sponsored by Jungle Joe’s.
The school year has started and much of the movement and activity that happens organically during the summer months has been traded for time back in classrooms. In the midst of busy weekday routines of work and school and bedtimes, it’s often hard to fit sufficient physical activity into kiddo’s schedules.
But studies continue to remind parents about the importance of making sure children incorporate a lot of physical activity and movement into their day, especially during the school year when much of their day is more sedentary. Incorporating regular movement into a child’s day has been proven, over and over again, to improve behavior, concentration ability, and academic achievement.
The general consensus is that children need at least 60 minutes and up to at least 3 hours of vigorous, active movement during the day for maximum development and peak cognitive function (meaning – your kiddos’ brains work the best and they retain what they’ve learned most efficiently when they’re moving this much!).
So what are some ways that parents can encourage lots of vigorous movement despite busy schedules and cooler, possibly wetter weather?
Have a rowdy playlist ready and engage in spontaneous HIIT workouts.
I have a Spotify playlist labeled “Workout”. It’s full of rowdy dance tunes and whenever moods start to get listless or I need to encourage some movement, I hit the play button. Little ones can be encouraged to move with instructions like, “Run like a cheetah!” or “Act like a monkey!” Older ones may respond better to challenges like, “See who can do 25 jumping jacks first!”
The goal is energetic, fast movement for a solid 5-15 minutes. This has worked for me in hotel rooms and airports as well as at home so it’s a great way to get some wiggles out while traveling. Try building a quick rock-out session into your routine in the morning to set the day off on the right foot.
Turn everything into a competition.
Most kids respond well to friendly competitions, so make everything a contest. See who can run the fastest, jump the highest, unload the groceries the quickest, make their bed first…you get the picture. Every little bit of intense movement helps, so make the world your family’s race track and start using that timer on your phone every few hours to encourage some energetic activity.
Encourage rowdy indoor play.
Most of us are in the habit of discouraging rowdy indoor play, but the trade-off for happier, healthier kids is worth a little bit of noise. Make sure there’s a room or two in your home that are “rowdy safe-zones” where tumbling, jumping, running, Nerf gun wars, and bumping are acceptable, and where breakable items and potential hazards are few.
Kids don’t need expensive equipment or a lot of space to run and jump – they just need a green light and some encouragement.
Seek out new spots where rowdy, energetic movement can happen despite the weather.
A great local example for indoor play is Jungle Joe’s. The tunnels, slide, rope ladders, and obstacle courses provide very young kids through late elementary students with plenty of opportunities to climb, crawl, and tumble. When your kids are sick of your house and the weather isn’t promising, head over there for a few hours of inexpensive rough-and-tumble play.
An added perk of Jungle Joe’s is that their cafe isn’t working against parents who are seeking out a healthier lifestyle – the fantastic menu ensures that parents and kids are snacking thoughtfully! Salads, paninis, smoothies, traditional kid-favorites, and more! While the kids are busy climbing like a monkey, parents can enjoy the complimentary wifi.
When it’s time for a date night? Drop the kids off for Parents Night Out! They can expend some energy, and you can enjoy a quiet evening out! (Hear the owner of Jungle Joe’s share about their two year anniversary and a few highlights of the business!)
The school year and the colder months don’t have to mean less movement. Moving and wiggling are so important to every little one’s growth and learning – try a few of the suggestions above to make sure that they’re getting the activity their little bodies need this winter to help them thrive!