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During this month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, parents should embrace National Physical Education and Sport Week, May 1-7, as the perfect opportunity to help your child explore a variety of activities and determine what they would like to continue. Here are a few reasons why you should be involved and ideas to get your family started:

Why participate?

  1. Fun way to teach the concept of awareness to your children. There are many awareness themed months throughout the year, all bringing attention to important topics. Participating in this week can teach your child the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle and how to participate in an important cause.
  2. Promote self reflection. After exploring new activities, ask your child what their thoughts were and if it is something they would like to continue with and how the activity made them feel. Self-reflection is an important life skill for children to learn and be able to express.
  3. It’s THE opportunity to influence your children to become more physically active. This is one of the most pivotal habits your child will need to develop and continue with to best grow.
  4. Develop more community with your child. Humans are social beings. Try new activities as a family and community.

Keys to success:

Key #1 Parents…YOU! Parents need to lead by example!

Key #2: Motivate them with choices! Children are all about empowerment and a simple way to do this is to allow them to select the activities to try.

Look into your local recreation department to see what’s available. Set a goal of at least trying out one or two new activities or renewing an old one! With warmer weather, head outdoors. Identify a safe walking and biking path that your child can use this summer or use to commute to school for the rest of the year.

Key #3: Community. Help your child find other friends and or family members that can do the activity with them. Accountability creates action!

Once you and your child have identified some new activities, set some goals on how you're going to accomplish them. Make sure the goals are:

Specific: Who, What, Where, When.

Measurable: How often and for how long are you going to do this new activity? Who are you going to do it with?

Attainable: Break them into simple steps.

Realistic: An activity they are willing to try and identify the timeframes to make sure that you can accomplish the activities.

For free activity lesson plans, visit NASPE’S May NPESW page, http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/advocacy/events/mayWeek/index.cfm

Jessica Shawley, 2012 National Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year