Everyday Parenting: Kids & Exercise

By: Jon and Taryn Vanderford Email
By: Jon and Taryn Vanderford Email

Schools are now becoming the perfect setting for kids to get at least half of their 60 minutes of play. Find out more with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign.

If kids struggle with academics, sometimes what they need is a little physical activity first. It's all about jump starting children's brains. Click here to see how a school near Chicago made P.E. the first class of the day.

Here are some of the physical activity breaks that Fredstrom 5th grade teacher Amber Tiefenthaler does in the classroom (just click on the name of the activity for a link).

Jammin' Minutes

Exercise Cube

The other activity was something called "At Your Chair".  In the story, the students simply used the backs of chairs to do push-ups, and the students also did toe-taps with their toes tapping the chair.



In an era where many schools are finding it hard to squeeze in physical education programs, one Lincoln school is bringing P.E. into the classroom.

From the White House to your house, exercise is on the minds of families and schools. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has a campaign called "Let's Move".

"We're focused on trying to get our kids healthy and active because we need them to be on point to be the next generation that handles all of these challenges," the First Lady says.

Fitting exercise into a typical school day has its challenges. Amber Tiefenthaler teaches 5th grade at Fredstrom Elementary School. While her students take learning seriously, they are not afraid to exercise either. They take part in "brain breaks" throughout the day. They are called "Jammin' Minutes", or they use a physical activity cube.

"The physical activity cube is a big see-through dice with little dice in it," 5th grader Jessica Gardener says. "When you roll it, you roll an action and a number, and so you do the action for that many times."

The brain breaks are part of an initiative called "The Healthy Schools Program", and Amber Tiefenthaler has made it a part of her students' day.

"We were invited to be part of the program because we are a feeder school into North Star," Tiefenthaler says. "Now it's actually been brought into all of the LPS schools. This is the first year that all schools in Lincoln are involved in the program."

The kids say they like the burst of activity.

"If we've been sitting on the floor, we are not as focused," 5th grader Olivia Kriz says. "But if we do have a break, we kind of focus better, because we have that blood flowing through our body."

"It gets us pumping basically, it helps our adrenaline rush," 5th grader Teren Nunn says. "It helps people focus better and get relaxed because it gets all of their energy out."

Experts say, kids need 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
LPS elementary schools only schedule a half hour for recess and lunch per day, but are trying to find other ways to squeeze in activity time.

"The dilemma we face is that academic standards are much higher today, the demands are much higher, but we know how important physical activity is to a child's achievement," LPS Curriculum Specialist Marybell Avery says. "We are trying to find as much time as we can to make room for both."

It's a difficult balance between exercise and academics. But Amber Tiefenthaler may have found the right combination. "Behaviors change when they have a moment to just get all of the wiggles out, and get that extra energy out."

Amber says she actually did a research project on these brain breaks when she was getting her master's degree. She says she hopes these activity breaks will help her students realize that physical activity is not just important during the school day, but throughout their lives.

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