Here at Springfree, we had the chance to interview five educators on the importance of including physical education in each child’s curriculum. Now more than ever, making time for physical breaks is key to keeping your kids focused on their schoolwork and living a happy and healthy lifestyle. Mental and physical health work hand in hand and the entire family can benefit from balancing both in their everyday lives. From a short break outside to a healthy snack session in between virtual learning and school work, these small breaks can make a huge difference.
Photo Courtesy: Ms. Temple
We had the pleasure of being able to chat with Ms. Temple.
Ms. Temple had a Springfree while her children were growing up and she says, "It was great way to easily get them outside." She is currently an elementary school principal in Canada. She began teaching in the classroom in 1996 and has been in an administrative role for 12 years. She believes physical education is an important part of a school curriculum and even more necessary now that many children now are schooling from home.
“Since I was 14, I have been mentoring kids on the “Art of Play.” I was in a group where we go to public parks and play tag, shoot hoops, play hide & seek with the younger kids, teaching them that exercise can be fun. I noticed when we would practice group activities, the kids would feel more at ease, have more energy, because they were able to share a common interest with other kids their age.”
“Now more than ever, movement breaks are important.” Ms. Temple explained that depending on age, most children are able to focus on 30-40 minutes of learning, then they will need a brain break/wiggle break. “The littles, as I call them, need movement every 20 minutes, for 3-8 minutes. Whether it’s going outside, a music break, class shuffle, PE class, they need that break to come back and increase the level of engagement to the sitting and learning.”
Kids have so much screen time already. Now with much of school being virtual, children need that time away from the screens to relax, enjoy themselves and this will help with mood swings and overall mental health. “Get them outside, lay in the grass, name body parts – large to small, even standing and listening gets them moving. Sometimes when I have children that come to me, I will take a walk with them while we talk. This way it calming their body and mind.
When asked what advice she has for parents or mentors that are having trouble keeping their children focused, Ms. Temple suggested, “Routine and expectations. Have routines in place, but also give them a choice in things. Giving them choices makes them feel like they are important part of something. Understand each child’s timeframe needed. Then make the schedule and expectations clear. Make sure physical breaks are a part of the routine. Hydration and snack breaks are also a good idea to add.”
It is just as important for adults to take mental breaks as is it for their kids. “This will help the adults to stay patient and focused.” Once again both parties will benefit from the mental breaks and even the snack breaks.
Photo: Springfree Trampoline
We had the pleasure of being able to interview Mr. & Mrs. Dawe and ask them a few questions about the benefits of having a Springfree, the importance of going outside and being active for children and incorporating schedules into their daily routines.
Occupation: Chief Operating Officer for University Preparatory School Network, formally Operations Director at Explore Horizons Tutoring Centers.
Name: Mrs. Dawe
Occupation: Yoga Instructor, formally Academic Programs Manager at The Dallas Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
The Dawe's currently live in Colorado. They have a niece, Gracie and she is the oldest of three.
1. What have been the main benefits of Springfree to your family?
At first, Gracie was relunctant to play outside independently. Having the Springfree in the backyard has given her reason to be outdoors and active and has given her a route into independent play whilst we’re occupied with her brother and sister.
2. How does being active and outside help children learn?
We’ve noticed that Gracie’s imagination whilst playing outside has been fully sparked by being active outdoors. Being outside has furthered her observations of nature. We’ve spent time looking at leaves and seeds that land in our trampoline and sometime just lie back and make observations of the clouds.
3. What are the benefits of exercise for children’s academic development?
Breaks for physical activity help us keep her focused when she’s learning/reading/cooking etc. Knowing that she has time for outside play also allows us to bring some structure to her day.
4. Why is it important for children to maintain a physical activity schedule when schooling at home?
Being stuck in the house for hours on end is not healthy for anyone (parent or child). Creating a schedule for learning that includes outside activities allows us to provide some structure, which in turns means we give ourselves the best opportunity to be productive in the time we set aside for learning. Outdoor activities give everyone the opportunity to stretch our legs, take a brain break, work out some of the energy we’ve bottled while we’ve been inside.
5. What are your top tips for helping parents to get their kids outside and active during schooling at home?
Schedule breaks and specific time to be outside. If your kiddo is reluctant to go outside, (and you have the time), build in some outdoor activities - e.g. scavenger hunt - that relate to the lesson at hand.
6. How can parents enhance their kids virtual learning experience?
Find ways to add enrichment to your schedule. If you know what your kiddo is into, find a way to weave that into the learning - if you can do it away from a desk even better. Find ways to bring lessons to life with props. Ask questions and try to strike up a communication with your kiddo’s teacher. Teachers are great at supporting problem solving where necessary.
7. What do you do at home to de-stress and relax?
We love to read a story together. Reading out-loud together is fun, but maybe that makes us very lucky?
8. As adults what is your home workout routine?
We’ve taken up the virtual option of Camp Gladiator and with Mrs. Dawe also being a yoga instructor, we try to take time every day to spend 30-minutes centering ourselves. Not always with Gracie, but sometimes she’s into it.
9. What would you recommend to parents to help their kids de-stress?
It’s weird times of course, but if you can find a friend or two to join your ‘pandemic bubble’ that helps a lot. One of our biggest concerns was the lack of social interaction Gracie was going to get and the ongoing impact on her emotional well-being. Staying in touch with a few keys friends gives her that social outlet and a sense of normality which has been great for us.
A big THANK YOU to these three brillant eductors for taking the time during this hectic year to answer a few questions for us.
For more Interviews with Educators - Here is Part 1.