Tag is an Academic Strategy: How to Advocate for Active Schools

tag-is-an-academic-strategy“Hey Random Mom! Let’s advocate for an active environment at our school!”

This line doesn’t work for me. It’s atrocious.

When I use formal or academic-sounding phrases like “Environment that Supports Physical Activity” most parents give me the look. I get it all the time. I’m a slow learner coming from an academic world and landing in the real world of working class families.

Even though I still sound a lot like a robot I’ve managed to attract like-minded parents. When I write articles like this one in my community newspaper I gain momentum and new allies. There are now parents who connect with me via email, text, Facebook, or they literally run across the parking lot. The common complaint – lack of recess.

I think activity in school is a rallying point for all parents. Some will argue about classroom cupcakes – but all parents rally for recess.

After a fair amount of research I learned about the relationship between movement (a.k.a. play) and learning. A game of tag is just the natural way of helping kids focus once they are back in a desk. It’s something kids have been doing for generations. Until recently when the stress of testing has made administrators nervously increase desk time. I’ll have some links to excellent articles about this correlation at the end of the post.

I didn’t think a lot about recess until it was taken away from my child. It wasn’t to be cruel. It was due to a hiccup in staffing, scheduling, and weather.

But on my end…It. Was. Rough.

A seven hour day without recess is the worse kind of torture for a five-year-old boy.

I finally sent an email to the school principal that tattled on my son’s reports of watching movies during recess time. After I sent this email my stomach churned. I didn’t want my relationship to change with the principal or school staff.

Fast forward. My story has a happy ending. This email spurred some great changes at his school that led to a written physical activity policy and support for classroom teachers to incorporate brain breaks in their classrooms.

Sitting down and working together with teachers and administrators isn’t practical for every parent. Try a few of these other ways to support physical activity at school:

  • Send your child to school wearing shoes and clothes that make it easy to swing, run and jump. This is especially true in the winter months.
  • Verbally tell an administrator that you support active school programs.
  • Send an email to your child’s principal or teacher thanking them for an active program that they support.
  • If your school lacks opportunities for physical activity, kindly and persistently request change.
  • If you read about a school that uses creative programs to get kids moving during the school day, pass the idea along to your child’s principal. Ask if you can help.
  • Attend a PTO meeting and find other parents who support physical activity. Pick a project.
  • Join or create a Wellness Committee at your child’s school.
  • Volunteer to help with an Active Family Night.
  • Attend a school board meeting or District Accountability Committee meeting and voice your support for active schools.

Some of these sound a bit unnerving if you’re not comfortable being outspoken. So don’t be outspoken – just be sincerely concerned with a polite email. You’ve got this.

Now go read my article that ran this weekend in the Fort Morgan Times. It’s almost a doozy. I really like how it turned out. I’d love to hear your two cents.

Other great reads:

Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post

Why has U.S. academic success dropped? The answer may be on the playground by Eric Schulzke in Deseret News

The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance A great report from the Centers for Disease and Control – for those of you who like a bite-sized synopsis of academic research. Great stuff to present to a principal or school board.

One Reply to “Tag is an Academic Strategy: How to Advocate for Active Schools”

  1. Thank you for sharing.

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