Find out how much physical activity your child is getting each day at school and what sorts of activities they are doing in gym class or at recess. This will give you a better understanding of their overall level of physical activity.
Encourage physical activity by giving your child toys that require movement, such as a kite, scooter, or jump rope.
Explore Organized Sports
Explore lessons and organized sports for your 5th grader. These might include gymnastics or ballet classes or soccer or basketball. As your child grows and their physical abilities progress, your child may express an interest in sports that even a year ago were too difficult for her. Expose their to as many options for physical activities and sports as possible. Community organizations like the local YMCA often offer affordable and kid-friendly yoga or Tae Kwon Do classes, for example.
If you are concerned that your child is not active enough, try to find ways to make physical activity more enjoyable for her. For example, inviting friends over to play outside might motivate her. Or suggesting that you exercise or do yoga together might spark their interest.
It is around this age that some children start to demonstrate natural athletic ability and inclination, while others resist physical activity and start to think of themselves as “not sporty.” Even if your child doesn’t seem to take to sports naturally, encourage your child to try out different activities and to find one that suits her. Some children resist team sports but can excel at individual sports like tennis or track. Make sure you let their sample a variety of sports to find their interest, and think of non-traditional sports, like fencing or archery, that might appeal to her. Reward and encourage persistence, so that even if your child is not a “natural athlete” your child learns to enjoy participating and pushing themselves to improve.
Exercise & Academics
The link between physical activity and improved academic performance is becoming increasingly clear. According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, children perform cognitive tasks better after participating in a session of physical activity. The report also notes that “frequent bouts of physical activity throughout the day yield short-term benefits for mental and cognitive health.” Encourage your child to take play actively or exercise before doing their homework or studying and to take short active breaks from sedentary activities. For example, if they are getting bogged down on some especially homework difficult problems, suggest that your child clear their head by walking the dog or kicking a ball outside.
If your child plays a contact sport, your child should wear a mouth guard to protect against dental injury and concussion.
Experts recommend sitting down with your child to create a sleep budget for the week. Map out your child’s priorities and activities, including time set aside for homework, meals, and extracurricular commitments. If you notice that their schedule starts to upend their bedtime and cuts into their restful evening of sleep, your child is most likely overscheduled. Encourage their to cut back on their number of activities and establish realistic expectations for the amount of sleep your child should be getting each night.