When the Classroom is Our Home: Adapting Physical Activity to Fit Your Space

Hi everyone! Brittany here from Springboard to Active Schools.

See this photo? It’s probably the only time of day where my two kids (2nd grade and preschool) are focused, excited, and not fighting (hooray!). In our chaotic household of two working parents trying to homeschool, that is a total win! Today, in honor of National PE and Sports Week, I’d like to reflect on CDC and Springboard’s Strategies for Classroom Physical Activity – and share some practical tips and resources on how to adapt these strategies when our classrooms are our homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed all of us in to new ways of being – whether we are crowded together in small spaces, physically separated from friends and loved ones, spending way more time in front of a screen, or feeling the heaviness during this time of great uncertainty, anxiety, and sadness. For me, even with so much still to be grateful for, I have found it to be an exhausting adjustment.

So, in the midst of all this, you might be thinking – physical activity? How can I make time for that as I manage all of this chaos? I’d like to offer that facilitating opportunities for physical activity can help manage the chaos for you! For our children and youth, adding opportunities for physical activity improves their behavior and ability to learn; and for adults supporting our students, participating alongside our young learners can reduce our own stress, improve our mental and physical health, and increase our own satisfaction and productivity.

Essentially, classroom physical activity at home is any physical activity done during learning time – and activities can reinforce learning or just be a time to take a break, get the wiggles out, and be silly. In our house, we are doing more of the latter, and that is what feels manageable for us.

So how can we make classroom physical activity at home a reality?

Identify the physical activity approaches that work for you: There are so many great online resources to guide physical activity at home that suit the different interests of your learners, and the sheer amount of choices might be overwhelming. Here’s a short list of free resources that have already been adapted to the home environment, just to get you started. And, of course, heading outside for a walk or free play time (masks on, of course) can always do the trick!

  • Active Home from OPEN (great games, videos, and a PE at Home Calendar)
  • #PlayAtHome from Playworks (a manual full of great games adapted for the home, in English and Spanish, and Live Recess 5x a week at 11, 1, and 3 pm CST)
  • Fitness Breaks from Healthier Generation (short videos to get the heart rate up and the fun going)
  • HYPE at Home from Hip Hop Public Health (lots of great videos with fun music, and you can filter them by grade level, type of media, and PE standards)
  • Good Energy at Home from GoNoodle (great videos and off-screen activities)

Identify opportunities and appropriate times to do some physical activity: Whenever I find that I’m getting snippy or my kids are getting extra amped up or unfocused, I try to remind myself to invest a bit of time in physical activity – because the payoff is always worth it. To avoid getting into those desperate moments, build in physical activity breaks throughout the day to keep your learners happy, and to keep yourself grounded.

Create a safe space for physical activity: Most physical activity breaks require very minimal space, and it might be helpful to create a small dedicated area in your home where physical activity can be done each day. In our home, we rearranged our furniture to create space for movement and dancing, and have a yoga mat propped in the corner of our room that can be rolled out at the ready – for adults and young people alike. And, because we have limited common space, we roll it back up once we are done.

These are just a few ideas to consider as we transform our homes into learning environments. It’s been an opportunity for me to practice what I’m preaching through my work. Remember, a little bit can go a long way, so take the time to be active at home – and let us know what tips work for you!