Therapists as Advocates for Physical Activity in Children
Lately, I have noticed a significant increase in the amount of publications and resources regarding childhood health and wellness. Whether it be related to childhood obesity, sport participation or general activity level, the articles all focus on the importance of physical activity. As pediatric therapists, we should be leading the crusade on this topic. What a great opportunity to advocate for what we practice every day with our clients. The information we hold as therapists is vital to the general population of children not just the clients who receive our direct services. We need to share our information with the school staff and parents in order to encourage more physical activity in children. It could be as complex as providing an in-service to school staff and parents on the importance of physical activity. On the other hand, it could be as simple as offering teachers and parents some easy ways to sneak in physical activity throughout the day.
Staff development and in service training is a essential method of sharing information. My experience with staff development taught me that teachers and school staff are so eager to learn what we as therapists have to offer. It is a nice change for teachers to hear about a new topic instead of standardized testing, math or reading curriculum. There are several topics you could discuss with an in service regarding physical activity. Listed here are several suggestions:
● Infusing the school day with physical activity - Statistics regarding recommended amount of physical activity times: a good website is AAHPERD - Importance of recess: try http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/recess.html - Activity suggestions for inside the classroom: order Get Up and Learn! ● Be Physically Active At Home - Stats re: recommended amount of physical activity times - try AAHPERD link above - Stats re: negative outcomes of too much television and computer - Importance of being a physically active role model - Suggestions for the family to be active together ● Importance of Sensory Motor Skills in the Classroom - Stress how all learning is sensory motor based - Carry over of therapeutic activities for children at risk: order Therapeutic Activities for Home and School - Discuss the various learning styles and how sensory motor activities help the tactile/ kinesthetic learner: order Get Up and Learn! for lesson plans that encourage tactile/ kinesthetic learning
It may be a daunting task for therapists who travel to many schools to offer staff development. In these cases perhaps trying just simple techniques may be beneficial. Offer the teacher uncomplicated strategies to increase physical activity. Activities that require minimal preparation time are a bonus. Provide the teachers with a hand-out of suggestions that you have created or download our hand out 10 Simple Activities to Encourage Physical Activity in the Classroom.