DETROIT – Whether student are learning virtually or in the classroom, they spend more time in front of the computer screen than ever before, and many parents are concerned about their children not moving enough.
People work much better when they feel energized and the same is true for students -- especially those who are starting the school year learning virtually.
Read more: Kids at Home
Recess provides a great benefit for children, impacting how they learn and focus. Health experts recommend taking breaks so that when you return to the computer, your child is calm, focused and ready to learn.
Laine Nakfoor is a certified personal trainer and a mother. She said for every hour your child spends in virtual-learning, they need ten minutes of physical activity.
“We would wake up in the morning and get ready for school. You go out to the bus stop, you walk into your school building and now we’re just kind of waking up and we’re going right to the computer," Nakfoor said. "These brain breaks are more important than ever. The kids need this muscle movement. They need the blood flow for not only the physical part of it, but for the mental part of it too.”
Nakfoor recommends keeping the breaks simple and to make them age specific. For example, for children eight and younger, she said her favorite activity is using bubble wrap.
“All you have to do you put it down on the ground and you have your kids jump on it,” Nakfoor said. "It takes them a long time to break all these bubbles. The sound is fun for them and they get really into it. They can spend a minute, two minutes jumping, which is such good movement for the body.”
She also recommends cup stacking for younger children.
“You can get some cheap plastic cups from a grocery store, have them stack them up and then take a softball and bowl,” Nakfoor said. "My daughter loves doing this. She’ll spend a bunch of times stacking these cups, bowling, knocking them down and she wants to do it until every cup gets knocked over so again. It takes a couple minutes, but again, she’s stacking the cups, she’s chasing after the ball, she’s moving her body in every way.”
She recommends different activities for children 9-years-old and older.
“Get them standing up. When we stand, it requires 20% more energy than when we’re sitting down," Nakfoor said. "It also helps prevent muscle imbalances and it helps with our posture. When we’re sitting at a computer all day, we lean in. Kids lean over and they do the same thing. It’s really important get your older kids standing up and they can even do some work while they’re standing up.”
Nakfoor said her oldest son like to do wall squats while doing school work.
“He’ll just place the computer right on his knees and type away,” Nakfoor said. “It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, you can do this for 30 seconds.”
Parents should get creative and use whatever they have at home -- she said her children love doing bicep curls with soup cans and doing line jumps using pencils.
“These are really inexpensive things that you can do and provide for your child that will help them in huge way -- both physically and mentally,” Nakfoor said. "They’ll become better learners. They’ll be happier. Mom and dad will be happier. They really make a big difference.”