There is much research supporting family engagement in children’s education being one of the building blocks for academic success, but what about physical activity and living an active and healthy lifestyle for a lifetime? Physical literacy is defined by SHAPE America as “…the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”
According to the CDC, family and community engagement in school-based physical activity programs provides numerous benefits. When families are active together, they spend additional time together and experience health benefits. When families are engaged in their children’s school activities, their children:
- Improve their grades and test scores
- Choose healthier behaviors
- Have better social skills
- Increase their physical activity
A key initiative that is being discussed in schools and within school wellness communities is the idea of the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) model. This is essentially a framework for planning physical activity in and around the school community. The CSPAP is a multi-component approach by which school districts and schools use all opportunities for students to be physically active and meet the nationally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Part of this model is family and community engagement.
So how can this be put into practice in your community? Here are some ideas for engaging the entire family in physical activity.
Create your own fitness calendar
Buy or download/print a blank calendar and write in some fun fitness and healthy lifestyle challenges that everyone in the family can do every day. Some activities from my example calendar below include: go for a family walk, teach your family a safe stretch, perform bicep curls with a soup can, etc. Be creative and develop the calendar as a family so everyone gets to share their ideas.
Make time for family games
Dust off an old lawn game or buy a new one and play it in the yard, at the park, or on vacation.
- Spikeball is a HUGE family favorite in my house. There are many videos available on YouTube to show you how to play.
- Garbage Can Frisbee is a great barbecue and backyard game that everyone will enjoy. It is played similar to horseshoes with teams of two.
- Bocce Ball is another great partner game for the whole family. This classic yard game is an easy-to-learn activity for all ages.
Family engagement in movement activities is vital, and it’s even easier to incorporate when it’s made a routine! If everyone in the family gets a chance to experience the joy of a life-long active and healthy lifestyle along with the confidence to move, then everyone will be on the way to a physically literate life.
Mike brings 19 years of experience teaching K–12, district and state instructional committees, plus 4 years teaching in higher education and 7 years as a Colorado Department of Education consultant and national presenter. He has served on various Physical Education organizations and boards. With this varied background to share, Mike is often invited to present at national, regional, state, and local conferences.
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