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exerciseChildren faced many transitions at the beginning of the school year.  By this time of year, they have settled into a routine and most of the kinks of adjusting to back to school have been ironed out.

One transition often overlooked is the dramatic shift between the amount of exercise children get over the summer compared to the typical school day schedule.

Transition from Active to Sedentary

Think about it.  Back in the summer months, most children are moving their bodies from the moment they wake up till their heads hit the pillow at night. They are running and playing outdoors, swimming, going to the playground and playing outside most of the day with neighborhood friends.

If we think about an average school day, the child will do a lot of sitting. It is a very sedentary schedule. All children require daily exercise, but some children are more sensitive to the decrease in physical activity because their nervous systems require more movement than other children. Children in this category may be sensory-seekers, may need movement to increase or sustain their arousal level or may need movement to sustain their focus and attention.

To compensate for the shift in the daily schedule, parents and teachers should be proactive in building exercise into their child’s daily routine. This should be a combination of working with the school and doing activities at home.

Rise & Shine!

Wake your child up 10 minutes early and find a fun way to get them moving. Dance to music, jump on a trampoline, do handstands against the wall, or roll down the hallway.

Add Movement to Classroom Routine

Some schools have embraced and integrated sensory diets to meet a child’s needs and even entire classroom needs. For schools that do not, emphasizing “exercise” rather than “sensory” is a good communication approach to get more movement built into your child’s schedule.

Some teachers do a fantastic job of integrating movement with learning, especially for younger school-age children.  It is important to remember that ALL children benefit from this approach. If your child’s teacher does not embrace this concept, your child may be showing isms with arousal, focus, and attention.  Your child clearly needs more movement breaks than other children in the class.

And no, Gym class is not enough!

Consider Yoga in the Classroom

Incorporate Movement Activities into Lessons

Exercise Before Homework

After school there are some children that can go home, sit down and get their homework done right away. Most children, however, need to get some exercise after sitting for the majority of the school day. The intensity needed will depend on your child and the best way to figure out the right amount is with trial and error.

A long walk up and down hills, a bike ride, playing on a jungle gym, swimming, martial arts and gymnastics are all great activities for after school. If it is a rainy day, movement games on Wii fun, obstacle courses, follow the leader games and dance parties can be fun alternatives.

Yoga & Sensory for After School

20 Ways to Stay Active

As we move deeper in to the school year, keep these tips in mind to keep your children moving all year long!

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Joni is a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in developmental disabilities, is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment, and has extensive experience with sensory integration therapy. She blogs at Kid PT.