Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Have you ever been so angry that you saw red?
If you're a parent in 2020 (2021?), chances are you have, or you at least know the saying.
Now imagine that your regular routine has been thrown out the window and you don't understand why. Your life has been turned upside down again, and again, and again, with little explanation. All you want is to go outside and play with your friends, blow off some steam and let go of life's new stresses. Instead, you're stuck in a chair you can barely sit still in, fidgeting, trying to read what's on the screen in front of you but the letters are all jumbled and backwards. You're not hearing what the teacher is saying. You're four steps behind where you should be and you're losing ground fast.
You can't focus.
You feel it boiling up inside you.
You see red.
For some of our young students, this is an all too common experience. When placed under stress (especially when from a variety of causes at once), many kids struggle with self-regulation - or understanding, processing, and controlling their emotions. When things boil up, our kiddos don't have the tricks to help them refocus, and BOOM, epic meltdown over what colour crayon they're using. Sound familiar? Is it happening more frequently since we started remote learning?
Now, not every child that has tantrums is necessarily struggling with self-regulation right now, but what I do know is that learning cannot happen when a five-alarm freakout is always a broken pencil away.
Luckily, I know a solution. And it's already in your house.
Movement, games, and a little bit of exercise can make all the difference in our brain's ability to focus and learn. Moving our bodies can help blow off steam (something that our kiddos are sorely missing with the lack of structured recess!), and these games can help with the fun social interaction that normally comes from time spent with peers.
Our kids struggle to communicate why they're so frustrated but think of how good you feel after an energizing workout to find one of the fastest, simplest solutions to overwhelm. Below we've laid out three of our favourite Movement Snacks for between virtual learning sessions. Even a short walk or run around can make a massive difference in a pinch.
Parents, we know how hard you're working right now. You're doing the most perfect, excellent job that you can under the circumstances. We hope these Movement Snacks help, we've got this!
CONNECT Movement Snacks!
Fidget Spinner Roulette
This one can double as a craft! Grab a fidget spinner (you know, the one your kid wanted SO BADLY but now it sits in the junk drawer?), place it in the middle of a page, write 5-8 activities around it, and SPIN!
Pro Tip: If you have more than one kiddo having a Movement Snack, place a piece of coloured tape on each arm of the spinner so each kiddo points towards a different exercise
Grab a pair of dice, roll, and complete the task! If you have more than one kiddo, assign a die to each one so that everyone gets their own task! If you have multiple dice you can also string exercises together.
Pro Tip: Spice it up! Decide with your kiddos if there's a special exercise to do when you roll pairs!
Activity Block Jenga
Ah, the Jenga set. It only seems to make an appearance once a year, and this might be the perfect time! Put an activity on every block, as you pull the blocks to add to the top, complete the activity!
Pro Tip: Come up with something extra silly to do when the tower falls down!
We hope these snacks help get your family through virtual learning in this pandemic. We created PDF files of all of our Movement Snacks that you can download and print for your next at-home recess! If you're interested, all three files are below!
Remember, we're all in this together. Stay safe everyone!
Stephanie Sollazzo is a Registered Physiotherapist, wife, mother, yoga teacher, and self-professed lover of homemade Italian food (especially when her sons make the noodles). She is passionate about helping moms return to activity after pregnancy, and working with children of all ability levels. If you can't find Steph at CONNECT, the only place to look for her is on a beach. To book an appointment with Stephanie, click here