For several years, my PE staff and I have been trying to relay the importance of stress relief to our students, parents, staff, administration, and even community members. Our PE program has been trying to push to a more fitness-based approach and lifetime physical fitness and we feel that if we can provide our students with methods of reducing stress through exercise it is a win-win situation. Students’ overall health improves through daily exercise and their stress levels reduce at the same time.
So, how do we do this in the midst of the current pandemic? The first recommendation I can give you is to NOT add more stress to your students! We have tried to take a simple approach to what we are asking our students to do for physical education while they are in the remote learning platform. Our one and only goal right now, GET MOVING!!!
We are encouraging our students to be active in any manner possible for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. The weather is getting colder in Pennsylvania, but we strongly encourage our students to take their family for a walk or hike outside. Hunting is a huge deal in our area, GO HUNT. If I have a student walking 30 minutes to their tree stand and then climbing a ladder to sit in the tree and then they shoot a deer and have to track it for 20 to 30 more minutes, I WILL TAKE THAT!!! And if you have never hunted in central Pennsylvania and think it sounds easy, I challenge you to visit our awesome state and see what it is like hiking through the woods trying to find a deer and then drag it out of the woods!
Keep a Record
Again, I want my students moving no matter the type of movement. We just ask that they record their movements and duration in a logbook which we collect. And I will be honest, sometimes the responses are outlandish and we have to call or email the student and discuss that we are hoping for a more vigorous form of exercise. For a laugh, here is an example, I threw a Frisbee to my dog for 30 minutes. Now, when I talked to this student and explained why that doesn’t work, they totally understood and freely admitted they were testing me to see if I was in fact-checking the logbooks. Aren’t kids great?
Share Activity Suggestions
I will also say that as a staff we offer suggestions for different activities that our students can do at their home, in their neighborhood, and even within a short walk or drive from their home. Again, living in Pennsylvania, we have some of the best hiking and biking trails and thankfully for us, there are a lot that are close by. It is fun to hear students talk about places they have hiked or walked when they check in with us and honestly there are times that I start asking questions so I can go where they went too! I look at it as a way to build an exercise community within our school that shares ideas and hopefully sparks students to visit new places and try new things!
All of this, the exercising, the sharing and laughing about adventures all helps our students, and really us too! Encourage it, foster it and honestly share it! We as PE teachers need to let our students know that there are so many ways to exercise and the benefits are tremendous. And the fun part of exercising is that it can take to places you have never been and you can see some pretty amazing things along the journey!
And please, I love to travel the country and when we as a country get through this time in our history and we can return to a more normal life and can once again travel safely, my family and I want to see and explore lots of new places, so share places to hike, bike, swim, kayak, etc. And if you are ever in Pennsylvania and want some ideas, let me know!