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. According to a recent Institute of Medicine report, even the best physical education curriculum fails to provide the necessary 60 minutes of recommended activity a day.
Explore Organized Sports
Explore lessons and organized sports for your 7th grader. These might include gymnastics or ballet classes or soccer or little league. As they grow and their physical abilities progress, they may express an interest in sports that even a year ago were too difficult for her. Expose them 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 them. Or suggesting that you exercise or do yoga together might spark their interest.
Try Different Activities
Even if your child doesn’t seem to take to sports naturally, encourage them to try out different activities and to find one that suits them. Some children resist team sports but can excel at individual sports like tennis or track. Make sure you let them sample a variety of sports to find their interest, and think of non-traditional sports, like fencing or archery, that might appeal to them. Reward and encourage persistence, so that even if they are inot a “natural athlete” they learn 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.
Exercise & Self-Esteem
Exercise and regular activity help children feel comfortable with their bodies, which becomes especially important with the advent of puberty and its accompanying changes. Make sure your child knows about the changes that will take place in their body when they go through puberty—things like sweating more, developing stronger body odor, growing pubic hair, and having acne.
Check your child’s bedroom to see if it is a dark, calm, and quiet environment. When you turn off the lights, there should be no illumination. Remove the television, computer, and other electronics from the bedroom since they emit a blue light that disrupts your child’s sleep cycle.