Keeping Physical Distance While Staying Physically Fit
Posted On April 10, 2020
Picture a day at The Lexington School. Students and teachers move all day long in and out of their classrooms. Groupwork has kids on the floor, squatting, stretching to reach another piece of the puzzle. Frequent brain breaks, changing classes, running at recess, a long walk to lunch, a skip across the stage, a standing lab in science, and of course, daily P.E. Movement is deeply inherent to a school day at TLS. So, what happens when everyone is at home? It can be pretty easy to slip into a lot of sitting. Sitting to eat, sitting to do schoolwork, sitting in a Zoom meeting, sitting to watch a video online. Lots and lots of sitting.
Health and wellness have never been so important, so that’s why Physical Education (P.E.) classes are daily at TLS, in school and now, too, remotely, every single day, every single student, mandatory. Remote P.E. may not look like traditional P.E. where a class of students is together, running, playing volleyball, climbing the rock wall, or doing circuits on the soccer field, yet P.E. classes are happening in a guided way, every day. We are keeping physically fit even at a physical distance. This is how it looks:
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In Preschool through second grades, Ms. Meredith Mccoun generates fun, developmentally appropriate options for daily physical growth including gross motor activities that feel like games and less like physical work. She offers her own balance challenges, where she interacts virtually with her students, and she sends daily, engaging assignments for kids like dice and deck of fitness games, plans she calls “Mission Possible” where preschoolers complete active tasks, and “It’s a Jungle Out There” where they pretend to be animals and insects as they run and play. Think “fly like a butterfly!”
Ms. Mccoun explains, “Physical activity helps younger children grow in ways most people don’t even consider. Gross motor development is so important–just basic skills like balance really matter. So that’s what we continue to work on, and it is so much fun to think of creative ways to help these young children grow.”
Mr. Parlanti has a detailed plan for third through fifth grades that includes circuit work, running, and flexibility. Each week is a little different, and each day includes a short video to help guide the experience for kids and their families (should they choose to join). For example, plank work is great for teaching the concept of body resistance for kids. Seeing how to build a proper plank is important for assuring the proper form. Mr. Parlanti includes video as part of his remote instruction.
Mr. Parlanti: “As students get a little older, they are beginning to show interest in sports and other active pursuits, so teaching best practices in physical activity is important. That’s why I focus on core strength, body resistance training, cardiovascular health, and flexibility. These are areas, that practiced to routine can set these students up for life-long health and wellness.”
Developmentally appropriate for middle schoolers is self-direction with accountability. That’s how Ms. Merritt handles her remote P.E. classes. Each week, she provides a framework for fitness and wellness, and she asks for self-reporting: “Continue to create a 5-minute daily interval consisting of 3-5 exercises with 10-20 reps and repeat 3X. Upon completion record heartrate. Choose an aerobic exercise to participate in for 30 minutes each day. Submit 5 recordings and pictures each week in Google Docs by Sunday at 9 P.M. The interval can stay the same each day for the entire week and the cardio activity can change day to day as long as you stay active. Have fun, stay upbeat and positive, and ENJOY the sunshine.”
Each Sunday, Ms. Merritt gets reports and photos on everything from a hike around the farm to biking the neighborhood to trampoline intervals. “I love the pictures they send in. It’s great to see the kids, and it’s fun to see how creative they are about the activities they choose,” she explains.
As part of a larger Colt Challenge, the TLS Amerithon is open to the entire community. All TLSers, parents, students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in logging their walking, biking, or running miles as they stay active and fit at a physical distance. Once social distancing is over, it will be fun to see who did the furthest DISTANCE after all!
TLS TEAM SPORTS
Even coaching continues remotely at TLS. Coach Bowers, lower school youth Lacrosse coach, carries on practice each day at 3:30 P.M. Through Zoom, Coach Bowers talks to his players, shows instructional videos, and gives them a practice routine for outside at their homes.
Coach Miller, Girls Varsity soccer coach, sends practice instructions each week and asks that his players send him a quick video clip of a workout (see video above).
Coach Conley meets regularly with his Varsity Lacrosse players too, and just today a couple of alumni guest coaches (Ben Schaeffer and Steven Kriss) are joining the team on Zoom.
Motivating movement and maintaining team momentum and community is the goal so that regardless of whether they get to kick or throw the ball this spring to a teammate, they are feeling a part of a group while learning the discipline it takes to train outside of regular team practice and play.
Physical activity is essential to the health and well-being of everyone. Prioritizing it early and often has benefits that work well beyond the physical and into the social, emotional, and mental growth that develops throughout childhood. Need some tips on structuring your remote fitness plan? Contact us and we can send something your way too!