By Doug McPherson
It seems the changes in a pandemic never end. Here’s yet another: Summer camps for kids are either closed or operating at half-speed or slower. Meanwhile, social distancing limits peer-to-peer fun in schoolyards and parks. So how can parents pick up the slack to keep their kids active and healthy?
Answer: Check in with the best physical-education teacher in the country. Bruce Randolph School PE teacher Brian Hull, a 2009 Metropolitan State University of Denver graduate, was just named the Society of Health and Physical Educators’ national teacher of the year.
At Denver’s Bruce Randolph School, Hull doesn’t just keep teens on their toes with games and sports – he also uses technology, including an exercise app he built just before the pandemic.
But he may be getting his best teaching experience at home, where his 3-year-old son tests him daily.
“He’s a wild little man,” Hull says. “Right now, it’s hard to get him off the tablet.”
Here are Hull’s tips for keeping kids of all ages healthy and active during a summer like no other.
To ensure that you’re motivated to keep your kids moving, take time to learn about the many benefits of physical fitness. Hull says it can boost moods, yield better sleep, improve cognition and much more. The goal is to instill a lifelong active lifestyle. “So make movement a priority and schedule time for unstructured play or exercise at least five times a week,” Hull says. “Set limits on screen time, too.”
Kids get bored easily, so think games and activities. “My kids love it when I make exercise a game,” Hull says.
A go-to for Hull at school is a takeoff on the game show “Deal or No Deal,” where students pick a card with an exercise. Saying “deal” means they do what’s listed; “no deal” means drawing another card, which dictates an activity they must do. Other games to spark activity: scavenger hunts, capture the flag, spike ball, cornhole and disc golf.
Kids can be picky, so the more options the better. Hull sometimes finds ideas on Twitter, and of course the internet offers near-endless choices. Hull suggests Googling “HPE (Health and Physical Education) at home” and visiting these sites: pecentral.org, openphysed.org and cbhpe.org.
No surprise here: Kids love their computers, tablets and smartphones. Hull says his app, brucepe.glideapp.io, has lots of ideas and resources including activities families can do together. The site darebee.com has mobile apps too. Also: Think about a pedometer, Hull says. Kids like setting step goals for themselves.
Joining in with your children makes you a healthy role model who leads by example. Plus, a little healthy competition can be fun. “Try a game of tag, walk or bike (helmets, please!) around the neighborhood, hike a new trail, or just toss the ball around in the yard,” Hull says. “Just do it together.”
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