How our lives have changed during this period of isolation! Parents are juggling the new reality of working from home, entertaining little ones and helping their kids learn online. If you feel like your kids are bouncing off the walls and bursting with energy, it’s because kids need to be active in order to feel good and to grow up strong, happy, and healthy. With schools closed young kids are missing out on daily recesses and physical education classes. So, what can parents do to keep kids moving and active at home?
Let’s start by considering the recommended guidelines and the benefits. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend children aged five to 11 years and youth aged 12 to 17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. There are many benefits of being active for at least 60 minutes a day.
- Improve their health
- Do better in school
- Improve their fitness
- Grow stronger
- Have fun playing with friends
- Feel happier
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Improve their self-confidence
- Learn new skills
Now let’s talk about how especially while kids are not in school or participating in scheduled activity throughout their day. It’s important to know, you don’t need fancy equipment to get moving, it can be as simple as doing jumping jacks and push-ups in your living room, putting on music and dancing or going for a walk outside. The key is to focus on fun! Help your child find activities they enjoy doing. The goal is simply to move more and sit less. The following are a few fun ideas to get kids moving outside and inside of the home.
- Bring out soccer balls, sidewalk chalk, buckets and other toys like frisbees
- Go for a jog, scooter, bike, skateboard, hula hoop or roller skate around the block
- Play hide and seek, tag, or freeze tag
- Play hopscotch on the sidewalk
- Build a snow fort or snowman (we can still do that in April in Edmonton!)
- Walk around the block
- Walk, run or play fetch with your dog
- Challenge your kid to a race down the block
- Jump rope, come up with a routine
- Set up an obstacle course in the backyard (ninja warrior-like)
- Play sports like soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, football, etc. (throwing and catching are so important for growth and development)
- Try a scavenger hunt- have your kids search for and identify natural objects in your backyard
- Here are some fun activities you can do inside.
- Just dance, turn on your favorite tunes and dance
- Do a fitness workout together as a family (my kids join me for my workout, we take turns picking exercises, kids come up with the craziest moves!)
- Blow up balloons and try to keep them up in the air. Maybe hang a blanket as a net and play “volleyball.”
- Use painter’s tape and create a hopscotch board on your living room floor or rug.
- Set up a mini-golf course around the house, using cups for the holes and ping pong or other softer (i.e. less destructive) balls.
- Build an obstacle course indoors for smaller children using sofa cushions and cardboard boxes.
- Indoor bowling with empty water bottles (or filled with water for more of a challenge)
- Track steps and set goals with how many steps they can get in a day
- Unstructured play is important too!
As a family, we try to get the kids outside as much as possible, even if it’s for short bouts of 15 to 30 minutes at a time. I think of them as “recess” or “lunch” breaks that they would normally have at school. We also make it a goal to go for a family walk every day, just to get fresh air and activity. As parents, if we do our best to have a positive attitude around being active, we can be good role models to our kids, and they are a lot more likely to enjoy physical activity. So, take advantage of the time we have now to find creative ways to be physically active as a family and keep your kids moving!