May 7, 2020

Keeping an active routine: ways to keep the kids moving while sheltering-in-place

By Michelle Hoffmann

As we continue to ‘shelter-in-place’ throughout California, ‘Stir-crazy’ is a term that many of us are becoming increasingly aware of. In balancing daily school-work needs, meal-time, quiet-time and routine, it’s easy to fall out of our activity routines. On a ‘normal’ day our children play games, run, jump, kick, and explore. As we all remain in the confines of our homes and immediate dwelling areas, being active throughout the day can be difficult, if not impossible.

Many of our children have been provided resources and support to continue to learn through this time, but resources to support children’s activity have fallen by the wayside. In our centers we take an approach to curriculum that’s hands-on, play-based and interactive. Although these types of experiences are not always replicable while staying home, there are things you can do in your day to encourage interactivity.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, children ages 3-5 should ideally be active 3 hours a day at varying intensities throughout the day. Children aged 6-12 need about 60 minutes of activity daily, including activities that strengthen their heart, bones and muscles. *

We know that these days go by at an odd pace and a committed 60 minutes looks different than it did earlier this year. Activity doesn’t need to have structure, a time-clock or programming to it to be effective and impactful. Think of it as something to sprinkle in your day – getting up during commercial breaks, taking 5 minutes to stretch while dinner cooks, having a dance party as you clean up.

Getting outdoors for family activity time is a great opportunity for everyone to get some fresh air, sunshine and space. Some ideas are…

  • Create and set up an obstacle course.
  • Hide and Seek
  • Go on a ‘touchless’ scavenger hunt – identifying colors, shapes, animals, bikes, cars, etc.
  • Go for a ride – on a bike, skateboard or scooter.
  • Take the dog for a walk. Switch turns being the pack leader.
  • Explore the trails and see what nature you can find!
  • Practice common sports drills to keep your child agile and engaged in played sports.
  • Kick around a ball or play a round of family basketball.

Outdoor time is not accessible for everyone, but there are still ways to keep children active – even while inside…

  • Complete an online yoga or kids fitness class.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Go on a color hunt – hide colorful objects around the house and have your child(ren) bring items back to you as fast as they can.
  • Keep a balloon in the air for as long as possible.
  • Do jumping jacks, squats and arm circles during TV commercial breaks.
  • Practice spelling and do a squat for every vowel.
  • For every hour of school work, get up and move for 10 minutes.
  • Use painter’s tape and create a hopscotch board on your living room floor or rug.
  • Set up a mini golf course around the house, using cups for the holes and ping pong or other softer (i.e. less destructive) balls.
  • Play “marching band”: Children young and old may enjoy marching throughout the house; everyone gets a different instrument (pots and pans included).
  • Build an obstacle course indoors for smaller children using sofa cushions and cardboard boxes.

Staying active is important for us all, but especially for our children during this season of oddities. Long or short, large or small, all movement helps keep our minds focused and bodies engaged!

Looking for more ideas, resources and videos to keep your child(ren) active? Check out the following links.

Play at Home videos and ideas:

Brain Breaks – energize your child’s learning with brief ‘brain breaks’:

*According to the Exercise is Medicine program operated by the American College of Sports Medicine.