ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Moving At School: Making It Happen

Nora Howley - NEA HIN

Post submitted by Nora L. Howley, manager of Programs at the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN). She believes that a great public school is one where students and staff are healthy and safe, and she's gratified that her job allows her to help make healthier, safer schools a reality. Howley is a former preschool teacher who has taught students as young as two and as old as 85, and served as director of the School Health Project at the Council of Chief State School Officers and as interim executive director at Action for Healthy Kids. Contact Howley by e-mail at

Kids should move more at school. It sounds easy, but I hear from NEA members that they are not sure how to do it. It was not part of the training. To make sure that kids get the activity they need, we need to help educators with resources and training.

Physical activity can be added to the classroom in several ways. One is to build it into the lessons to actually teach movement skills and help build students' knowledge about why physical activity is important. At the NEA Health Information Network, we have partnered to create Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives, a free program for primary grades that offers a series of developmentally appropriate lessons on the themes of Move Healthy, Eat Healthy, and Think Healthy. Each lesson is tied to the National Health Education Standards and the Common Core State Standards. All of the materials an educator needs are available for free.

Another way is to use movement in other curricular areas. One example of this is the Energizers created by East Carolina University. These short activities use physical activity to teach core concepts. One of my favorites is "Travel the Tarheel State," which reinforces geographic locations. It requires no special equipment and can be adapted for any state. Students can climb a mountain, play ball at a stadium, and swim in a body of water ... all without leaving their desks.

Finally, educators can create opportunities for physical activity breaks like Instant Recess. Developed by Toni Yancy at UCLA, these 10-minute breaks offer a variety of ways for students and staff to be active. Many of these can be found on YouTube and include professional athletes.

Regardless of how it's done, building activity into the school day benefits students, and when educators lead these efforts, it benefits them too.

As the nonprofit health and safety arm of whole child partner the National Education Association, the NEA Health Information Network provides health and safety information, programs, and services for the benefit of NEA's 3.2 million members and their 43 million students. NEA members include teachers, bus drivers, school custodians, cafeteria workers, and other school employees who make up almost 15,000 local associations throughout the U.S, and on military bases in Europe and Asia. NEA HIN's mission is to improve the health and safety of the school community through disseminating information that empowers school professionals and positively impacts the lives of their students. For more information, visit the NEA HIN website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @NEAHIN.

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