The best balm for kids’ and adults’ pandemic-weary souls exists outside. Nature, in all seasons, offers a way to refresh our minds, get our bodies moving, and take a big, collective deep breath.
Before sending your kids into school for the day, consider starting it with some movement and nature time. It’s one small way to start your whole family’s day in a positive way. And let’s face it: Avoiding the chaos of the dreaded drive-in school drop-off line is a major bonus.
Consider these fun and active ways to get from point A to point B, and enjoy some fresh air time before the school day begins!
Research has shown that music boosts listening, cooperation, and trust (all things that are very helpful in getting kids out the door to school). In our music-loving household, I have found this to be true – and I’ve noticed a difference on our walk to school as well. There’s even one teacher at my son’s school who greets the Kindergarten kids with upbeat tunes and makes everyone’s morning brighter.
Load up a playlist with your kid’s favorites and enjoy an upbeat and positive walk en route to the schoolyard. Not only will this start your own day off right, it will spread cheer and joy to everyone you walk past. Need song suggestions? Try a school-themed playlist with favorites like “We’re Going to be Friends” by Jack Johnson or a bright and sunny playlist with Renee and Jeremy’s versions of “You’re My Best Friend” and other classics.
There’s nothing quite as motivating as making a commitment to walk with a friend – especially when it takes kids away from their usual route. This simple switch can provide a whole new perspective to their day, as kids often feel more positive about movement when friends are involved. It will also get you and your kids out of the house earlier, which means bonus active outdoor time before the school day begins. For older kids, this is also a great option, as they can build leadership skills by volunteering to walk younger kids to school (and they might even get a paid babysitting gig out of it).
Several studies show that time spent in nature can improve our mood and reduce anxiety, and this is especially true during COVID. Not every commute to school has nature trails, but with a little effort, you can still find the scenic route. Take the long way and go through the local park. Go out of your way to find some green space. Leave time to notice things happening in nature. Watch snow melt, look for buds poking up in the spring, stop to watch an ant for a few moments. This mindful approach to mornings pays off with a calmer day and much-needed connection time.
There’s something about rolling into the schoolyard that makes the day seem special and fun. It’s also hugely beneficial for stress relief and energy levels, and kids who get a burst of movement before school may have increased concentration when in class. If you can find a way to get the kids to school that involves pedal power – like a scooter or rollerblades – you’ll be so glad you did. And be sure to join your kiddos! Adult scooters, bikes, and blades are so fun and it’s a great way to keep up with your little speedster and connect joyfully before separating for the day.
It’s amazing what a shovel, skipping rope, or chalk can add to the morning commute. Choose your props depending on the weather. Stopping to dig in snow mountains or shovel the sidewalk in the winter is a great way to get little bodies moving. In spring, skipping towards school will invigorate kiddos before a day of school work, and drawing hopscotch on your usual routes will make them more exciting, more active, and more fun. Just make sure you leave the house early. This provides an opportunity to slow down instead of rushing and connect with your kids instead of constantly reminding them to hurry.
Reprinted with permission from Active for Life. Active for Life is a non-profit organization committed to helping parents raise happy, healthy, physically literate kids. For more articles, visit activeforlife.com.
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