We all know that exercise is good for us, right? We know that we should be exercising multiple times a week. It’s good for our hearts, it’s good for our muscles, it’s good for our minds. Yadda yadda yadda. We get it! We need to get moving!
But what about our kids? Exercise has actually been shown to help kids increase academic engagement. What that means is that when kids do big gross motor, heavy work, cardio-tastic exercise for a little bit before being asked to listen in class or focus on homework, they perform better on the academic tasks.
Cool story, Leanne. Thanks for just telling us about research. We’re busy though.
Okay, think about it- how could this research outcome affect your child? Perhaps before placing high expectations of expecting them to focus and be engaged in an activity, we help them to get the big movement their bodies need. We use this research finding to help our own kids in their everyday lives.
What does that look like?
You usually do homework immediately after school to get it out of the way. But it is a huge chore trying to get your child to stay focused on the homework and just GET. IT. DONE. Why not try doing some exercise before starting homework time? First, jump on the trampoline for 10-15 minutes, then we’ll get homework taken care of. First, go run up and down the block twice. First, do a GoNoodle dancing video. First, do some jumping jacks and burpees. First- go swing in the backyard or climb on the fort or jungle gym or a good tree. Now see if the homework process goes faster or smoother.
Use the language of how movement makes your body feel better. How does your body feel? Our bodies need movement. How does your body feel after movement? Is your mind ready to get this homework done? Let’s give it the exercise, movement, and fresh air your mind needs, then it’ll be more ready to get things done.
Don’t get caught up in forcing your child to exercise and making this another chore. Help them to start to notice when they need it and give ideas of movement activities that your child enjoys. Give a list or menu of movement options. Add exercise or movement to your afternoon routine. Put it on your visual schedule. Do it with them and make it a fun bonding activity.
The goal is to help your child get what they need- movement and exercise. The goal is not just making homework time better.
The goal is connecting with your child and guiding them to notice their own physical needs and recognize their own cues. The goal is not making homework time better. The perk is homework time goes better. The benefit is there. Help your child to recognize that and self-monitor. After exercising, how did homework time feel? Did you notice you are done earlier than usual? How do you feel having accomplished so much already this afternoon?
Try adding exercise and movement into your daily routine for your kids. Plan to do it right before they are going to have expectations placed on them- homework, sitting still or quiet through an event, or whatever daily routines that need to happen.
Try it this week and let me know how it goes!