With many students sitting in front of a screen more than when they attended school in-person, you may be looking for ideas to incorporate virtual physical activity into distance learning. Experts recommend children get at least one hour of physical activity every day. Staying active positively impacts their academic performance because higher physical activity levels are associated with better concentration and memory. If you’re looking for ways to integrate physical activity into virtual classes, here are some ideas.
Make it part of students’ regular schedule
One of the best ways to keep students active throughout the day is to make it part of their regular school schedule. When it’s incorporated into their daily routine, physical activity can quickly become second nature to students. There are multiple options for all grade levels, including:
- Holding a class competition appropriate for their age. For elementary students: Who can do 20 jumping jacks a day for three days? For high school students: Who can walk a mile every day for two weeks?
- Creating an assignment for students to find an indoor virtual physical activity app and set up an activity plan for the month.
- Practicing a five-minute stretch routine before class every morning (this works well for all ages).
- There are multiple free videos online to help kids get their exercise through dancing. An activity like this just might be their favorite assignment of the whole school year.
- Assigning students to pick a physical activity of their choice and then film themselves for a couple of minutes while participating in it.
For challenge winners and students who complete their assignments, send them student prizes. A colored-pencil art set, a sport bottle or a pedometer would be a wonderful reward. In addition to incorporating physical activity into assignments, keep an eye on your students’ alertness. If you notice a drop in their energy, attentiveness or retention, that’s a clue it’s time to have students hop off the screen and start moving (PDF).
Get parents involved
Many parents are now working remotely while their kids learn virtually. Encourage parents to take a physical activity break with their children—or start or end the day with group exercise. When they see mom or dad exercising, kids will be more involved and motivated.
For example, families can take a brisk walk or bike ride three days a week. Or maybe they jog in place, jump rope or stretch for a few minutes on lunch break. To encourage parents to stay as involved as possible, you can send them a planner and pen to schedule times to get moving with their kids.
Explain the why
Talk to parents and students about how physically active children tend to have better grades, attendance, cognitive performance and classroom behaviors (like on-task behavior). This will help them get a deeper understanding of the reasons you’re incorporating physical activity into their assignments and routine. Even though many people tend to know physical activity is healthy overall, understanding these reasons can help keep students motivated and on-board with being active.
Plus, when parents understand the correlation between physical activity and academic performance, they can also encourage their kids (and hold them accountable).
Keep your students physically active
By scheduling fun, age-appropriate virtual physical activity assignments, encouraging parents to be active with their kids, explaining why exercise is so important, and giving out student prizes, you can improve students’ minds and bodies in the virtual classroom.