Today's schools are facing many obstacles to achieve their academic goals; poverty, bullying, technology, no child left behind, budget cuts, and student health, just to name a few. All of these issues are making it more challenging, and schools are having to adapt quickly to be successful with their students.
Health and the Role It Plays in Academic Success
The current health of children in the United States is facing an elevated risk of obesity. Nearly one in three children today is obese. Obesity brings with it an elevated risk of health issues; heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and more. On top of that, schools are facing more stringent standardized testing requirements, leaving less time for physical activity.
Several studies have linked childhood obesity to lower academic performance and lower standardized testing scores. Charles Hillman, a professor at the University of Illinois, recently studied the educational benefits of physical activity in children. According to Hillman, children who are active scored higher on tests and are better focused in class. Physical activity can help schools with their academic goals. It is a matter of finding the balance between learning and having the students get active.
Bring Physical Activity into the Classroom
There are several national programs to help schools integrate physical activity into their current curriculum. These programs get the kids up and moving in your classroom and keeps them learning at the same time. This approach will help the kids with being engaged during the more challenging lessons in your curriculum. So, remember to plan these activities before the tough lessons of the day.
One program will not be the answer, and it will be up to the teachers who know their students to find what works best for them. Below we provide a few examples of great programs.
NFL Play 60 Challenge - has more than 60 lesson plans for student grades 6th to 8th.
- Language Arts/English Lesson Plans
- Math Lesson Plans
- Science Lesson Plans
- Social Studies Lesson Plans
- Physical Education Lesson Plans
- STEM Lesson Plans
Go Noodle - is for students grades Kindergarten to 8th and has free curriculum as well as a premium.
- 300+ movement and mindfulness videos
- 12 interactive core-aligned games; spelling, math, science, and more
- 100+ printable lesson plans
- Customizable games with unique questions
BrainGym - is an international nonprofit with the goal of educating schools on movement-based curriculum to achieve student and school academic success.
- CEU's for educators
- Promote play and the joy of learning
- Draw out and honor innate intelligence
- Build awareness regarding the value of movement in daily life
- Encourage self-responsibility
- Inspire an appreciation of music, physical education, and the fine arts
Beyond Physical Activity in the Classroom
We know how detrimental obesity is for academic performance, attendance, and overall health in students. Physical activity in the classroom will help fight obesity and these adverse effects, but to be the most effective it has to include proper nutrition. We have covered the benefits of breakfast in the classroom, proper nutrition tips for families, and programs like National School Lunch Program make sure children are eating a healthy lunch. It is just as important to educate the students on nutrition in the classroom so that they can make healthy food choices beyond the school walls.