Category Archives for Afterschool



Recently, NAA sat down with Sandy Slade, president of Skillastics, to talk about how the pandemic has affected how she serves her clients.

No stranger to the afterschool market, you may have seen Slade at a previous NAA Convention where she enthusiastically shares more about her passion: Helping programs engage with youth in a way that motivates them to be more physically active and benefit from lasting, positive impacts.

Talk about what Skillastics is and what the organization’s goals are!

Skillastics makes it easy to organize, motivate and engage large groups of kids to move and learn with our virtual and on-site physical activity programs. These programs absolutely transform attitudes about physical activity. Our goal is to continue to help afterschool programs globally with the physical activity portion of their program. We love being able to integrate learning moments with physical activity as well, like Character Education (SEL) and the Academic Integration of STEM.

How long have you been in business and serving the afterschool community?

Skillastics has been in business and serving the afterschool community since 2002 and continues to focus on afterschool programs every year. We always listen to the current challenges and concerns that our customers are facing in their programs, then take that information and make adaptations so we are always the most efficient and effective resource for afterschool physical activity programming.

Describe how the pandemic has affected your business.

The pandemic was a challenge for so many businesses. We immediately realized we had to quickly pivot to help schools and afterschool programs everywhere through this difficult time. Looking back, the pandemic has allowed us to be even more of a solution for programs, as we’ve now developed a completely different and unique line of resources to help afterschool programs. Between our on-site physical activity kits and our virtual physical activity programs, we are now the ultimate resource to tackle any needs for physical activity programming.

What were you hearing from your afterschool clients, and how did that prompt you to reconsider how your offerings could help?

During the pandemic, there was a high demand for virtual physical activity. Programs needed to get children moving with quality programming. The quick, initial YouTube searches that programs were doing just weren’t working, as the quality and need for a progression of lessons was not obtainable through YouTube. This is where our resources really made a difference. We were able to provide 30 Day Virtual Programs, led by expert instructors in their field. These programs grabbed children’s attention (and staff too!) as everyone wants to be a part of something special!

Your new offerings were extremely well-received. Tell us a little about them.

Our new Skillastics Virtual Programs helped afterschool programs nationwide during the pandemic and continue to thrive as students return to schools. These programs became a quick solution for virtual physical activity needs where students are led in a variety of programs by qualified experts in their field. As students start to return to schools, programs are finding these virtual programs as great resources to use for specialty clubs, mixing up the normal physical activity routine or even a solution for weather inclement days.

How do you think what you’ve created will influence your future offerings?

We will continue to build an extensive virtual library for afterschool programs. These virtual programs also couple very nicely with our on-site physical activity kits for a well-rounded delivery of physical activity programming for children. Our resources can be used indoors and/or outdoors for clubs, quick lessons, full lessons, family engagement and more!

What makes you proud to work within the field of afterschool?

We are so proud to know that we are giving children a positive experience being physically active. Skillastics is for all children, not just the athletes. Knowing that children are smiling, playing, learning and working together as a team—with our resources—is a great feeling. It also makes us proud to know that we’re helping coordinators and staff to easily implement physical activity in their programs. We know the struggles they face and to be the solution for them makes us proud.

What do you feel are the “silver linings” of this challenging time and what opportunities do you think it will offer for the future?

The “silver linings” during these challenging times have been the way we were able to “rise to the occasion” and grow tremendously as a company. Having the ability to help programs with physical activity across the nation (even during a pandemic) was amazing. Developing new physical activity resources and continuing to enhance our current physical activity programs speaks volumes of the impact we have, and will continue to have in the future, for afterschool programs. We have always been and always will be here to help get youth moving!

As we look forward to reopening and recovery, what is your best advice to NAA members and your favorite offerings to keep kids active and healthy?

Stay positive. The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We all stuck together and got through a pandemic. If we can get through that together, we can get through anything. As children return, there may be many who are not in the best physical condition. We need to stay positive with these children and encourage them to have fun and play! The kids will be very excited to get back to school again and to be able to finally play with their friends again. With our quality, structured physical activity programming (both on-site and virtual), we can give every child a positive experience being physically active!

If you are interested in learning more and want to chat, click here, or check out Skillastics.

Courtesy of Skillastics.

Photos courtesy of Skillastics.

6 Socially Distant Physical Activities to Perform When You’re Back On-Site

As children return to school and classrooms find some sense of normalcy, it’s essential to continue with social distancing to keep everyone safe. Thankfully, physical activities can easily be performed while kids remain socially distant, especially in large spaces like a gym or outdoors. A few activities are better suited to safety, which we will explore in this article. Physical activity is an essential part of children’s daily routine, and they should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Incorporating physical activities into their school or after school routine will ensure all children stay healthy and fit.

Importance of Physical Activity

According to the Center for Disease Control, kids are actually recommended to participate in 60 minutes of activity a day. Many kids don’t reach that marker, so naturally building it into their day is a great idea. Incorporating physical activities into the school day and afterschool programs can have significant benefits for children. Even if kids are distance learning, they can participate in physical activity classes online. Exercising has a wide variety of benefits for kids, including:

  • Enhancing physical well-being.
  • Strengthens muscles and bones.
  • Reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, and other diseases.
  • Improves endurance and flexibility.
  • Fosters positive mental health and well-being.
  • Enhances motor skills, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and dexterity.
  • Creates consistency in routine.
  • Promotes healthy habits.
  • It helps children learn new skills and make friends through group activities.
  • Builds confidence.
  • Improves social and emotional skills.

Socially Distant Activities

Even though you’re back on site, you might not return to all the regular physical activities you used to facilitate for the kids. Since social distancing measures are in place to keep everyone safe, you’ll have to extend the same thoughtfulness to the activities you plan. Physical exercise can still be done while kids keep a distance from each other. There are many options that the kids will enjoy and that will give them all the same benefits they are used to from gym class.

1. Yoga

Yoga is no longer just for adults. It can be an excellent exercise for children and adolescents, helping them with strength, flexibility, and effective breathing exercises. Yoga is a great fitness idea for after school programs because it will help kids calm down after their busy school day and transition into homework or playtime in a relaxed manner. If you have space, try taking your yoga class outside. Otherwise, spread out the mats before the children arrive so that they are correctly socially distanced. Yoga can be done with facemasks on, and the only equipment you need is a mat. But if you don’t have mats, a soft floor is okay too.

2. Dancing

Even if dancing was not a part of your physical education as a child, it should be now. Dance is a great way to work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. It’s also fun and will keep children and teens entertained. You can let the kids do their own freestyle dancing while staying distanced or teach them a routine to learn. Dancing is a great physical activity that can be done in a safe way.

3. Workout Wheels

Kids will love workout wheels, and they can be done safely too. Create a virtual workout wheel that you can share with the children on a projected screen, then let them “spin” to see what activity they have to do. Make sure the kids are standing distanced from each other and choose only actions that the kids can do in their space. Here are a few good ideas of physical exercises the kids can do in place:

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Star jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Funny dances
  • Jumping jacks
  • Stretches
  • Crunches


4. Track and Field

If you have an outdoor space available to you, or even a large gym space, then some track and field activities are a great idea for social distancing. Kids can take turns running for set distances or times while maintaining enough space between them. Pair off students into groups with similar abilities and see how far they can run during set time periods. The kids in the group can take turns so that while one is running, the other can recover.

Some of the field sports might be an excellent option as well. Students can safely practice long jumping while keeping a safe distance. Another option might be to have the kids try their hand at shotput or one of the other throwing activities. If you engage in these activities, just make sure you’re properly sanitizing any equipment used between students.

5. Obstacle Course

If there is anything kids love, it’s a good obstacle course. Getting kids to run around and move is easy when there’s an obstacle course involved. Even better if you time everyone, so they can see who is completing it the fastest. If it can be done safely, have the kids help you set the course up. Or set it up before their arrival and then explain how it works when they come to class. If you have a larger group, try making a few different courses and dividing them into small groups. Obstacle courses are great because kids can take turns and stay properly distanced on the sidelines. They don’t have to involve any objects kids would touch, making it a safe and easy activity option.

6. Kickboxing

Much like yoga and dance, students can participate in kickboxing while staying in one position the whole time. Kids and teens will both enjoy the rigors of kickboxing. It’s a great cardio activity that will get their heart pumping and strengthen their muscles simultaneously. Kickboxing can be great for teens, especially because you can incorporate self-defense training with the lesson. Show the students different ways they can defend themselves with kickboxing maneuvers.

Keeping Kids Active

Kids need to stay active to stay healthy, just like adults do. But getting children to move or exercise can sometimes be challenging, especially when team sports might be dangerous. These activities will allow kids to stay socially distanced while still having fun and getting their daily exercise in. They will feel much better once they’ve done some physical activity after school or in gym class. Kids will be better suited to stay active and form healthy habits if they start young.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Making Fitness Fun in After-School Programs

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy childhood and young adult life, and after-school programs are encouraging America’s youth to get moving and build healthy lifestyle habits. While working out and exercises are crucial for a child’s well-being, it can be challenging to find activities that kids actually enjoy. After school program directors have to work extra hard to create an exciting and unique curriculum for kids.

In this article, we dissect the reasons that exercise is so critical for healthy childhood development. We also discuss different methods to make exercise fun in After School programs. Follow along to learn more, find some tips and tricks, and reach your potential as an after-school program educator.

Exercise is Essential for Children

It’s no big secret that exercise plays a vital role in children’s and adults’ lives. Everyone can benefit from a healthy and active lifestyle. However, encouraging a love for fitness and movement while kids are still young ensures a lifelong relationship with healthy lifestyle choices.

Expanded Learning Programs are a great place to jumpstart this appreciation for activity and exercise. There are many valuable benefits to regular physical activity, so kids must have movement in their after-school programs.

Benefits of Exercise in Early Childhood and Young Adulthood

Recently in the United States, there has been a cultural shift towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits. Organizations like U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide recommendations on children’s regular physical activity. At the same time, programs like the NFL’s Play60 program and SHAPEAmerica aim to prioritize exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

All of these pushes for access to physical education and activities for America’s youth are not in vain. Daily exercise can verifiably improve a child’s mental and physical well-being in many ways. We look at those benefits below:

  • Regular exercise improves flexibility, endurance, coordination, and agility.
  • Fitness helps students strengthen their hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and dexterity.
  • Exercise increases cognition and other learning abilities like problem-solving, communication, time management, and teamwork.
  • Fitness reduces the risks of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and other chronic conditions or health issues.
  • Physical activity instills healthy eating and lifestyle habits in kids.
  • Exercise reduces stress and improves mental health issues like depression and anxiety, which are incredibly common among children and teens today.
  • After-school programs, sports teams, and other activities encourage kids to build strong relationships with their peers and promote healthy communication.

There are plenty of ways to provide ample exercise for children and teens. After-school programs, clubs, and organized sports all serve to help children lead healthier lives.

Types of After-School Activities

The United States is a hotbed for After School Programs that encourage healthy lifestyle choices. With over 18% of America’s youth participating in After School programs, there are plenty of opportunities to promote healthy activities that kids enjoy. Some popular programs around the country include:

1. AfterSchool Programs

The level of participation in after-school programs nationwide is staggering. Over 10 million children participate in these programs every year, accumulating valuable life skills throughout their time in the program.

Many after-school programs are school-sponsored and take place right on campus after classes end. On the other hand, there are also many private after-school programs often held at off-campus locations. Well-organized programs will promote healthy food options and plenty of exercise for program participants.

One great benefit of after-school programs is all the skills students learn as they take part in the program. With other students around, as well as program leaders, children gain the skills to communicate with both peers and adults, have time to work on schoolwork, and will improve on other cognitive abilities along the way.

2. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Another excellent option for after-school programs is the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. With nearly 5,000 clubs across every single continent globally, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America are widely available for any child.

Boys and Girls Clubs can provide a wealth of information for students and families about health, wellness, and personal development. Different Boys and Girls Club programs include:

  • Education
  • Sports and recreation
  • Health and wellness
  • The arts
  • Character and leadership
  • Workforce readiness
  • And more

Participation in any of these interesting Boys and Girls Club activities encourage kids to keep moving and maintain healthy lifestyle choices into adulthood.

3. The YMCA

Similar to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America is the YMCA. Lovingly referred to as “The Y,” the Young Men’s Christian Association is also an excellent after-school resource to promote physical activity in children and young adults. The Y has over 2,700 locations country-wide, encouraging America’s youths to stay active and live healthy lifestyles with fun fitness programs.

In Minnesota, local YMCA programs include general health and well-being classes, summer camps, swimming lessons, and so much more. Programs at the YMCA strive to incorporate fun and interactive activities that stimulate the body and mind, making America’s children healthier both physically and mentally.

4. Organized Sports

Many of America’s children also find enjoyment in organized sports. Whether they participate in team sports like lacrosse or soccer or opt for an individual sports program like tennis or swimming, students can gain immense benefits from organized sports.

Sustaining physical exertion throughout a sports game or practice helps improve endurance and overall fitness, build a strong musculoskeletal system, and promotes better communication and teamwork. Plus, organized sports participation also encourages a healthy, regular routine, which is crucial during childhood development.

Fun Fitness Ideas for After School Programs

It’s clear that kids need physical activity to lead a healthy life and make good choices in their futures. However, it’s up to parents and after-school program directors to encourage exercise in a fun way for children. Providing programs and activities that are actually enjoyable ensures that students maintain these newfound healthy habits long into adulthood.

In-Person Activities

For the most part, the majority of after-school programs and activities will take place in person. There are plenty of fun, exciting physical activities that promote valuable and healthy life skills to students while still being fun.

Incorporate any of the following activities into your after-school program so students can start to find joy in fitness and exercise:

  • Sports skills
  • Relay races
  • Capture the flag or tag
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Rock climbing
  • And many more

After-school program directors can also utilize resources like these large group physical activities for after-school programs from Skillastics to turn physical fitness into playtime. These types of activities are excellent for after-school programs of all sizes and seamlessly integrate into online learning if necessary.

Virtual Activities Amidst the Coronavirus

Nowadays, educators and after-school programs are facing the challenges of online learning. With all the uncertainties surrounding public health and safety, some programs are moving to virtual classrooms just in case. Other schools and programs are offering a hybridized curriculum that switches from in-class learning to online.

Although getting used to online learning can be challenging for after-school programs, there are plenty of ways to keep kids engaged and motivated to move with online activities. From YouTube fitness videos and interactive workouts to virtual physical activity programs explicitly made for after-school programs, it’s easier than ever to access online resources that still manage to make exercise fun and exciting amidst Covid-19.

It’s crucial to find activities that cater to students’ unique interests and needs. That’s why after-school program resources like Skillastics offer virtual physical activities that encompass a wide variety of exercises and interests, including:

  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Martial arts
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Kickboxing
  • Pilates
  • STEM academics

Now, more than ever, parents and after-school programs need to maintain children’s interests in physical activities and fitness. Without regular physical activity, kids and young adults are at risk of falling into depression or developing physical and mental health issues, so educators need to incorporate fun online after-school activities.

Keeping Kids Moving

The United States is facing an ever-growing epidemic of childhood obesity and other risks involved with this era of inactivity. In a time where technology rules and students spend more time with screens than ever before, it’s important to incorporate fun physical activities into after-school programs, ensuring that children have access to activities they enjoy is crucial to childhood development and the maintenance of healthy lifestyle habits. Whether you’re in class or online, make your after-school program fun to promote healthy choices for children.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Boys and Girls Clubs Across the Country Can Benefit From Skillastics

Afterschool programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America are an integral part of keeping kids active. In an era where technology and screens and practically taking over, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of children’s physical activity.

It’s difficult for program directors to find fitness activities that actually interest the participants with all the distractions these days. Resources like Skillastics make learning and physical activity an effortless and enjoyable experience for kids.

What Is Skillastics?

Skillastics is a teaching resource for schools and programs to utilize that promotes learning through physical activity. Physical education classes, afterschool programs, and Clubs of all sizes can take advantage of Skillastics’ various virtual and in-person activities.

The mission of Skillastics is to make physical activity a positive experience for children of all ages and abilities. The program aims to establish a healthier and more educated generation using fitness activities. Activities can range anywhere from soccer and tennis to cup stacking and character-building, but they always represent our company’s core values.

Our core values include:

  • Integrity
  • Empowerment
  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Punctuality
  • Passion
  • Accountability
  • Innovation
  • Learning
  • Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)
  • Finally, fun!

The fitness programs from Skillastics help get children moving physically while simultaneously incorporating critical social skills. Skillastics offers fun, energetic activities, making it easy for afterschool programs like the Boys and Girls Club to get children moving and honestly excited about fitness.

Skillastics Teaches Kids to Develop Healthy Habits

Skillastics programs are a tremendous asset to any club, afterschool program, or physical education course. The Skillastifcs products are perfect for rainy day activities, Friday fun, or a school-wide family game night. The great thing about Skillastics activities is that they function for both large and small groups.

Another positive aspect of Skillastics programs is the health benefits, both physically and mentally. Playing Skillastics games gives children the tools to function well with other students and people after school,  in the classroom, and beyond. Below, we take a closer look at how Skillastics uses physical fitness to form healthy habits in Boys and Girls Club participants.

Physical Benefits of Skillastics

Children need daily play and movement to meet health guidelines. Otherwise, they may suffer adverse health consequences such as diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, or depression. Skillastics is a fantastic tool for Boys and Girls Clubs to teach kids healthy habits surrounding fitness and nutrition.

Skillastics programs, both virtual and in-person, include activities that encourage several fitness skills in students. Programs span from basketball and martial arts to mindfulness and yoga, meaning there’s a program to suit every type of student. Skillastics helps improve and encourage:

  • Dexterity
  • Motor skills
  • Balance
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Healthy eating habits and lifestyle skills

Exercise for kids is crucial to building a healthy and strong body. Utilizing Skillastics programs in your Boys and Girls Club curriculum is a great method to get kids moving.

Making Mental Improvements With Skillastics

Everyone knows that if your body feels good, your mind probably will too. In fact, regular physical activity in children is often linked to improved mental health into adulthood, as reported in the New York Times. Skillastics is an excellent tool to help improve mental health and expand upon cognition and skills.

Playing Skillastics games involves more than just movement from the body. Students have to participate in both mental and physical challenges to be successful. Some of the areas students can improve on include:

  • Teamwork or team building
  • Cooperation
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Cognition
  • Social skills
  • Mental health

Skillastics also allow students to explore different interests, such as STEM academics, in a safe and fun setting. Giving children the chance to try new things and find small successes can boost their self-confidence and encourage them in the classroom as well. Boys and Girls Clubs are the perfect setting for kids to learn and play with Skillastics. The psychological and social benefits of exercise are endless.

Hear It Firsthand: How Skillastics Can Help Your Boys and Girls Club

Around the country, you will find physical education programs in schools, afterschool programs, and Boys and Girls Clubs utilizing Skillastics. The versatile virtual programs and in-person games help children form a positive relationship with physical activity. Students of all abilities can enjoy Skillastics.

The experience of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Burlington, North Carolina, is just one snapshot of how Skillastics is helping clubs across the country. Sherri Henderson, the executive director of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, attests to the success of Skillastics within their program.

Some of the key highlights of Mrs. Henderson’s praises surrounding Skillastics programs include:

  1. The ability to pay for Skillastics with grants. Learn more about grants in our FAQs.
  2. Skillastics is great for all age groups and abilities.
  3. You can play Skillastics with group sizes ranging from 6-100 students.
  4. Skillastics fits in both big gymnasiums and smaller spaces.
  5. It is an excellent resource for keeping program participants organized.
  6. Most importantly, it gets kids moving at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club (and at other clubs around America).

Clearly, Skillastics programs are an asset to this Boys and Girls Club in North Carolina. But Skillastics doesn’t stop there; it is a top-rated resource for teachers, afterschool programs, camps, and other large group activities. There are training opportunities available to give educators the knowledge and information they need to run Skillastics smoothly in their programs.

If you’re still uncertain if Skillastics will be valuable in your club, it might help to hear about real people’s experiences. You can read Mrs. Henderson’s review, along with other testimonials here.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that any Boys and Girls Club can benefit from Skillastics. The programs go way beyond simply teaching sports skills. Instead, Skillastics helps hone important physical, mental, emotional, and social skills that students will benefit from in everyday life.

Putting Skillastics activities into regular rotation at your Boys and Girls Club is a great way to get children excited about education, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

skillastics physical activity

3 Smart Ways To Social Distance While Playing Skillastics®

We have all had to adjust to social distancing and learn to stay apart – as uncomfortable or odd as that may feel.  Sometimes, we forget that distance does not equate to isolation; we don’t need to be totally separate, just 6 feet. There is a big difference between social distance and social isolation. There is still much we can do from 6 feet apart!

Schools can still offer physical activity programs that get kids involved. With a few modifications, children can participate in many ways while still maintaining social distancing.

Here are just three ways that this can work:

1. Small Group Team Space

Children work well and learn best in groups. The ability for kids to share information and learn from one another is a powerful learning tool. When it comes to physical activities, it’s also much more fun. Since social distancing in large groups is difficult, small groups are optimal for maintaining distance while still participating in Skillastics activities. The large playing mat effortlessly defines the space and allows students to spread out around the board, keeping their distance from other kids.

2. Partners From 6 Feet Away

In partnerships, children can mirror one another to learn steps, help one another remember rules, and share their successes. The ability to partner gives kids more socialization and better opportunities to learn. As partners, kids can have fun while participating in physical activities and staying safe. Children in pairs can easily maintain their 6 feet. They can even work into their partnership a “watch-out” for their distancing to help each other stay apart.

3. Well-Defined Play Space

It can be hard to remember to keep distance, and some children may have difficulty remembering. The large play mat is an excellent visual reminder and placeholder to keep kids apart. Two students playing simultaneously have an easier time staying on opposite sides of the mat, and taking turns encourages children to stop and think about their spacing. The mat is also easy to clean after use with a simple sanitizing spray and wipe-down.

Finding A Way

We have come far learning about ways to stay safe, and it’s clear that masks, social distance, and handwashing keep us healthy. We can work within these new requirements to continue our lives, even if it’s not exactly the same or feels different. We can work with this! It’s a matter of staying aware, making smart choices, and putting safety first.

Skillastics Large Group Physical Activities has always offered kids a way to have fun while getting active, but it’s also become a safe alternative for keeping kids healthy, both physically and during COVID. The large play mat and a few modifications mean kids can still be active and stay safe.  

CLICK HERE for the Skillastics® COVID Safety Guidelines.

To learn more about social distancing while staying physically active, email or call us today at (888) 842-7746.  For more resources to manage remote physical activity programs, head to

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Why After School Physical Activity Is a Must

Months ago, the entire nation started making adjustments to everyday life to accommodate the newly arising challenges caused by the coronavirus. Unfortunately, this means that thousands of schools and after school programs shut their doors to keep teachers, students, and families safe from potential illness.

After school programs are an essential resource for many American families and, sometimes, are the only place where a child can spend time playing and staying physically active. Despite the dark outlook, many programs are finding new ways to move after school activities online so participants can still reap the benefits of regular exercise.

How After School Programs Can Help Inspire Healthy Children

There are endless amounts of well-documented reasons why young people need physical activity to lead a healthy life. After school programs that provide fun physical fitness resources and nutritious snack options are instrumental in improving children’s overall well-being. After school programs that prioritize physical activities enable participants to improve several skills and healthy attributes, including:

  • Social and emotional skills
  • Communication skills
  • Motor skills
  • Dexterity
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Eating habits

After school programs provide students with all the necessary tools to take care of their minds and bodies as they grow. Instilling a lifelong love and appreciation for physical activity enables children to prosper well into the future.

Finding New Passions

In-person after school activities are an excellent way to help children expand on existing skills and find enjoyment in exercise. Kids have the opportunity to try new sports, games, and activities during after school programs, potentially finding a new passion. Programs can implement activities that focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, second languages, and nutrition, helping children form healthy habits and strong interests for the future.

Educational and Emotional Improvements

Additionally, time spent with other children teaches kids how to communicate and collaborate effectively. These benefits are often reflected in improved schoolwork, grades, and test scores. There’s also a strong correlation between physical activity and better mental health. This is an incredibly important factor in fitness since depression and anxiety are so prevalent in younger populations.

Staying Active In the Age of Technology

It’s crucial for children to stay active as the issues of 2020 continue to advance. Since schools are primarily providing online or hybrid learning environments, children take in an extended amount of screen time. Too much time spent in front of the television, tablet, computer, or other devices can cause behavioral problems, sleep deprivation, attention issues, and other physical health concerns. For this reason, it’s essential that after school programs offer opportunities for participants to perform physical activities away from the screen too.

Demand for engaging after school activities is still high, with over 10 million American youths participating in after school programs annually. Educators can instill a passion for physical fitness and healthy living in students who spend extensive amounts of time at after school activities. Although the current coronavirus situation creates a lot of uncertainty for after school programs, there are still an array of unique virtual resources available to keep kids active.

Keeping Kids Active Amidst Covid

In 2020, programs are confronting the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Closures of in-person programs are forcing after-school educators to find unique and engaging ways to keep kids healthy and moving while they’re stuck at home. In states where local regulations are more relaxed, programs can create a hybrid curriculum, with half in-person and half online activities. With all the developing insight into the coronavirus’s dangers, after school programs have to shift gears swiftly to online activities so kids can still safely socialize and stay active amidst these unpredictable times.

Movement Matters

Setting aside dedicated time for physical activity in an after school program agenda encourages children and young teenagers to incorporate healthy habits into their lives long-term. Kids are constantly growing, and their musculoskeletal systems crave fully-engaged body movements that expend energy. The daily recommendation for children’s physical activity is sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous movement. Even if your in-person after school program is still shut down, it’s easy to encourage physical activity with online tools.

Online Resources for After School Programs

Finding the time, space, and resources for at-home fitness activities can seem complicated during a pandemic. Luckily, there are extensive resources available to educators to implement in online or hybrid after school programs. After school programs can provide opportunities for physical activity, even online. Educators or program coordinators can shop for virtual learning programs that make exercising fun and easy to do at home. There are a variety of activities to choose from that make kids want to get up and move. Consider implementing any of the following virtual physical activity programs to show participants just how exciting exercise can actually be:

  • Basketball
  • Martial arts
  • Kickboxing
  • Mindfulness
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Cup stacking
  • STEM and sports programs

With the ever-evolving nature of new technologies, it’s easy for educators to use online resources to promote an active lifestyle. Understanding and adjusting to online programming can seem daunting. But don’t worry; there are tons of after school training programs to teach you how to use online physical activity resources the right way.


Physical activity after school can include a wide variety of enjoyable activities, from games or sports to online exercise programs. Encouraging after school program participants to stay active amidst the pandemic can improve their emotional and physical well-being while identifying new, exciting interests. As coronavirus continues to keep most after school programs closed, educators must find ways to keep kids engaged and healthy without succumbing to the adverse effects of too much screentime. Coordinators can contact a physical activity training resource to find innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems posed by the pandemic.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Virtual After School Programs: Keeping Kids Active, Even Online

“I wish things could just go back to normal.”

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard this phrase often muttered in the last few months; perhaps even from your own mouth, your partner’s, or your child’s.

It’s true that Americans have had to adapt to a “new normal” during the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses, workplaces, and schools are implementing stringent safety protocols and virtual tools so people can continue to work and learn during this challenging time.

Just like other entities, after school programs are innovating creative alternatives for after school enrichment. Kids are likely to be negatively affected by the loss of in-person interaction with peers and teachers or after school program leaders. Now, more than ever, educators have to plan ahead to seamlessly integrate virtual resources into afterschool programming to keep kids active and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Why Are After School Programs So Important?

Families in communities across the country rely on the afterschool industry as an essential resource for childcare and education. After school programs help keep kids safe, active, and involved with both physical and mental benefits.

Benefits of After School Programs

Children who participate in After School programs receive innumerable benefits, both physically and mentally. After school activities are an excellent way for kids to learn about teamwork, friendship, and the importance of physical fitness.

Physical Health

Many Out-of-School programs incorporate physical fitness into their daily curriculum. Whether it’s free time outdoors or a specially designed activity or game for kids, there is a vast array of improvements made on enhancing children’s health and wellness through daily physical exercise. This includes:

  • Improved endurance and flexibility
  • Improved motor skills
  • Improved hand-eye coordination and reaction time
  • Improved dexterity
  • Reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, childhood obesity, and other life-threatening illnesses

Mental Health

On top of the improvements to their physical well-being, children also gain an impressive amount of mental health benefits from exercise in after school programs. Exercise-oriented After School programs improve children’s mental health by:

  • Promoting healthy habits
  • Increasing communication and teamwork skills
  • Creating a consistent routine
  • Building confidence
  • Improving social and emotional skills

These days, especially being stuck at home for extended periods of time, children and teens are at incredibly high risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. After School programs that emphasize physical activity help reduce the prevalence of physical and mental illnesses in kids.

Incorporating Virtual Learning Into Your After School Program

With the pandemic impacting how schools and programs operate, a lot of curriculum is moving online. While the quick adoption of new technology is impressive, there’s a greater risk for kids to lose out on the benefits of physical activity during virtual learning.

It can be challenging to envision how kids can actually incorporate exercise into virtual learning environments, but there are many ways to encourage at-home physical fitness for children in After School programs.

1. Take Regular Movement Breaks

One of the most significant losses for After School Instructors is the absence of wide open spaces for children to move in. Unfortunately, kids probably have limited mobility within the confines of their home, so it’s essential to incorporate regular movement breaks into programs.

Jumping jacks, running in place, push ups, or other exercises that only involve a limited amount of space are easy to implement between other online games and activities. Plus, having kids get up and away from the computer for a little bit can reduce the negative health impacts of too much screen time.

2. Implement New Activities

It’s troubling to think about all of the things kids are losing out on without in-person programs. Children and teens rely on these programs to see friends, receive mentorship, and have structured time for exercise.

With many programs quickly going virtual, After School Programmers might think they have to cut out regular After School activities. However, there are many engaging After School programs and lessons available to incorporate into the online classroom.

Virtual physical activity programs are an easy way for After School Instructors to implement fitness into an online setting. The virtual activity should seamlessly translate between instructor and student and provide a variety of fun, holistic physical activity lessons. When looking for a new activity or game for your program, look for an online program that is:

  • Easy to install (“Click N’ Play” model)
  • Easy to understand and explain
  • Instructor-led with opportunities for student-centered learning
  • Easily incorporated into every day curriculum
  • Allows for continuous learning even after the online session has ended

3. Encourage Individual Outdoor Play

The CDC’s guidelines recommend that children ages 6 to 17 incorporate at least one hour of physical activity into their daily schedule, but that’s difficult to achieve when kids are stuck in quarantine.

It’s vital that instructors and parents work together to encourage individual outdoor activities for students, while still following social distancing recommendations. When kids lose out on opportunities for physical fitness, they are at a higher risk for serious and debilitating diseases later on in life like diabetes and heart issues.

Students might be tempted to stay inside and play video games or go on social media all day. These behaviors lead to childhood obesity, depression, and other health issues. Parents have a responsibility to ensure that children receive adequate daily exercise when after school programs are virtual.

Challenges of Virtual After School Programs

Teachers can attest, it is not easy to keep a large group of children under control. Now, more parents are experiencing the difficulties of childhood education within their own homes. Implementings virtual learning into an after school program is not going to go without its own set of challenges for educators and parents.

Coordinating any number of young kids is difficult. Add a little technology into the mix and there is sure to be an adjustment period for instructors and students. Some challenges instructors might experience include:

  • Technical difficulties
  • Slow loading times or connectivity
  • Students lacking adequate technology
  • Unruly students
  • Interruptions in their house or a students
  • A lack of engagement or attention from students

Before starting a new virtual after school program, familiarize yourself with the technology and brainstorm activities to keep kids engaged and moving. Children will be much more likely to participate in a program that runs smoothly because that’s way more fun than watching a teacher struggle for ten minutes before even starting an activity.Encouraging children to get out and exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic can be a challenge. Instructors of after school programs are implementing online activities into their virtual learning curriculum. There are tons of opportunities to get creative with your online offerings for after school activity participants. Use virtual learning tools to keep kids engaged and active until we can eventually go back to “normal.”

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

10 Reasons Why Kids Need Exercise in Their After School Program

Exercise and fitness are crucial to the physical well-being of kids and adults alike. However, when a child does not have adequate physical activity incorporated into their daily routine, there can be dire short and long-term consequences. Ensuring that students remain active throughout their childhood can help create long lasting healthy habits that continue well into adulthood.After school programs are a fantastic way for a child to make friends, learn, and spend time engaged in physical activity. After school programs that provide daily exercise can foster immense growth for the children that attend.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition states that children between the ages of 6 and 17 should participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)  a day. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that only 1 in every 3 children in America participates in physical activity every day. With childhood obesity on the rise, after school programs play a critical role in providing children with the time and safe space to exercise and practice healthy habits.

10 Benefits of Incorporating Exercise Into After School Programs

Improves Physical Well-Being

  • First and foremost, participation in physical activity will always enhance the physical well-being of a child. Daily exercise improves physical well-being because it:
  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases
  • Improves endurance and flexibility
  • Improves motor skills, hand-eye-coordination, dexterity, and reaction time

Improves Mental Health and Well-Being

Besides physical well-being, after school exercise will also boost mental well-being in children. Recent studies have shown a strong correlation between depression in kids and adolescents and lack of physical activity. When we exercise, our brains let out powerful endorphins that release the positive energy that keeps us feeling good. Regular physical activity keeps kids’ bodies and minds from becoming sluggish and unproductive.

Creates Consistency in Routine

After school programs are a fantastic way to promote time management skills and consistent routines in children. If exercise is incorporated into the program’s curriculum every single day after school, children will recognize that physical activity needs to happen every day, too, just like brushing your teeth, eating, or catching the bus.

Promotes New and Healthy Habits

The benefit of exercise at an after school program is the wide variety of games, sports, and other physical activities available to experience. There are many resources available for after school programs to use to promote healthy habits in children. These programs also give kids the chance to try new sports and games, which could lead to further interest in team activities and healthy habits.

Fosters Connection With Other Children

When children attend after school programs that emphasize regular physical activity, it provides the opportunity for them to connect with peers over shared interests. For example, it takes three people to participate in a round of double dutch jumping, enticing the children to connect over that activity which they prefer.

Children Learn New Skills

After school programs allow children to learn new skills through physical activity. Programs are often full of diverse groups of students; some may not have any siblings; some live in apartments and don’t have access to certain recreational activities. Perhaps a little girl without any brothers has never played basketball before. After school programs can utilize sport-specific resources  and activities to promote that interest.

Builds Confidence

Participation in a group setting will undoubtedly boost the confidence of younger children. By promoting activities in after school programs where children can play in teams and use problem-solving skills to communicate with others, children become more self-assured and self-reliant.

Influences Homework and Test Scores

Research at Stanford University has proven that too much home and schoolwork can be detrimental to the overall development of a child. Incorporating after school activities into the daily routine of children can provide a much-needed rest for their growing brains. Unstructured playtime especially can foster creativity and free thinking in a child.

Improves Social and Emotional Skills

While participating in physically challenging activities, kids must work as a team, communicate, and play fair. Repeatedly using these interpersonal skills during after school programs will encourage children to incorporate those social and emotional skills into everyday life at school and home.

Encourages Other Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Building physical activity into the daily routine of a child can foster healthier lifestyle habits down the road. Children who participate in sports and other afterschool activities are more likely to continue to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into their adult lives. They may avoid junk food, drugs, and alcohol because they understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. They may also continue to have a lifelong enjoyment of participating in physical activity and instill that sense of happiness unto their children someday.

The Long-Term Pay Off

Children can suffer both physically and mentally when adults in their life fail to provide opportunities for exercise. However, with the proper training, the staff at an after school program can improve any child’s quality of life. An hour of physical activity each day not only improves children’s physical and mental wellbeing but can improve upon several useful life skills. By promoting a positive physical fitness experience to children in developing stages of their lives, they can begin honing practical social skills. Physical activity in an after school program setting can encourage confidence, communication, teamwork, learning, and improve interpersonal skills. These are lifelong skills that will benefit children long into the future.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Skillastics Virtual Physical Activity Program: Making it Easier for You to Get Kids to Move More

We have had to sacrifice much of our normal lives in the face of this pandemic, and it’s hard. We are all struggling and feeling the difficulty of the changes in our lives, but none more than educators working from home to keep kids learning.

The easier we can make programs for After School Instructors to implement at home, the more kids will benefit and the more we can support your program through this difficult time. At Skillastics, we took action to pivot and retool our proven methods into a Virtual Learning Physical Activity Program.

Why It Works. We designed the Virtual Learning Physical Activity Program to be simple to explain to learners. It is  balanced to include instructor-led portions while still maintaining student-centered practices, and scaffolded to allow students to continue learning even when the computer turns off.

How It Works. The program is presented to students via ZOOM or Google Classroom/Google Meets.  The daily lessons provide structure to the day, include a variety of holistic skills, and focus on fun choices to keep the kids engaged. There are even options for the children to include their family members, further strengthening their understanding and retention of the skills. Instructors receive easy-to-follow instructions so they can get started with little prep and free online training.  In-depth training is also available for those who want more support.

The key to successful eLearning is an instructor who can focus attention on the children, not the technology. We created a complete package with easy to digest talking points that guide the lesson delivery so After School & PE Instructors can naturally connect with their students without distractions from figuring out lesson pacing. With our virtual program, you can successfully deliver physical activity lessons through a computer screen.

Most importantly, our Virtual Learning Physical Activity Program will continue to instill a love for movement and an enjoyment for physical activity. When you purchase the program, you will have all the right tools to continue improving children’s health through regular physical activity.

For more information email:

Ready to buy, CLICK HERE

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Getting Your Students to Fall in Love with Physical Activity

Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day celebrates love, and it doesn’t always have to be romantic. Love boils down to a passion for something (or someone!), and so we can celebrate the holiday by sharing the love for physical activity with students.

When you feel passionate about something, it shows. Your enthusiasm, energy, and enjoyment are palpable, visible as the expression on your face, gestures with your hands, and sound of your voice. When you talk about something you love, the feelings bubble up and over into everything you do or say.

Falling in Love with Physical Activity

There are ways to transfer your passion for physical activity to others so that they can experience the same enthusiasm and joy. Here are a few ways to helps students fall in love with physical activity:

1. Exude Positive Energy. Invite the students in with positive energy. Show them your feelings with exuberant talking, exciting demonstrations, and fond memories about your own participation.

2. Provide Easy Wins. Give students a chance to succeed. Break down the activity into smaller roles and make it fun.

3. Offer Encouragement and Support. Acknowledge when it’s hard and recognize efforts when they try.

Role Model Passion for Physical Activity

High levels of excitement are contagious, and students will be influenced by your attitude. When you talk with enthusiasm and demonstrate with zest, you transfer your excitement to the students. Let them see your passion for the activity and look through your eyes at the joy of participating in it.

When students see your love for physical activity, they experience an example of the way they could feel, too. You are a role model showing them the ways physical activity can make them feel. So be excited, talk passionately, share your joy, and be thrilled when you take part in the activity. They will follow suit.

We are showing the love this month by offering a 10% discount on all Skillastics® products you order ONLINE. Use CODE: lv2020 at checkout.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

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