Category Archives for Tips

The Benefits of Student-Led Activities

The Benefits of Student-Led Activities

It may come as a surprise to learn that leadership doesn’t begin at the high school level. In fact, educators are creating opportunities for young leaders at the primary age as children are introduced to leadership concepts long before kindergarten. Penn State’s Pre-K early learning social-emotional standards include: “Know and state independent thoughts and feelings” (25.1.1 Self Awareness) and “Participate in new experiences with confidence and independence” (25.1.3 Competence). Here are some benefits and methods to incorporate leadership as you allow your students to lead.

Leadership builds decision-making skills

There’s a good reason leadership skills are being taught at a young age. Studies show that leadership opportunities instill confidence, and help children develop collaborative skills, problem solving skills, and teamwork. For some children, it also provides a sense of responsibility they may not have elsewhere. This builds a good foundation for leadership in high school and in the workforce. If we wait to provide leadership opportunities until children reach high school, they’ll join the workforce unprepared for critical decision-making. 

Leadership and decision making

Leadership can be fun

There’s an even better reason we should let kids lead: because it’s fun. 

Think about it. Kids are told what to do all day long. From the time they get up, eat breakfast, put on school clothes or uniforms, head to classes, and learn specific lesson plans, just about everything is pre-determined. But if you could give kids an opportunity to choose aspects of their day and activities, you could easily become not only the most fun part of their week, but the most important.

Leadership as a reward

Oftentimes, rewards can be complicated, as adults think that kids want physical certificates, money, gifts, or trophies. But rewards don’t have to be complicated to make a lasting impact. You can choose to reward kids in your program for simple observations, such as the child who gave the most effort last week, or the student who showed the most kindness and encouragement for a classmate. You can even assign rewards for introverted kids who step out of their shell to get involved in a new game. Rewards can be as simple as you like! For example,you could choose an assistant-for-the-day, a team captain, OR designate a day of the week where children to choose between programs like Skillastics® Basketball or STEM Skillastics®, an innovative blend of physical activity and cognitive learning as the group activity of the day. You can even introduce the democratic process by allowing kids to vote, and designate a leader to tally up the results. 

All-inclusive Leadership

In organized sports, the captain or leader is often the child with the most skill in that particular sport. But with Skillastics®, children aren’t required to be athletically inclined. That means all children can be leaders, because Skillastics® games and activities level the playing field. Skillastics Activity Kits offer programs for different age groups, all skill levels, and even bilingual programs. The colorful activity cards are identifiable by shape, allowing kids with dyslexia, dsygraphia, dyscalculia, or other learning disabilities the opportunity to not only engage in the programs, but lead. Kids can help decide the “shape of the day” and instruct other children on which identifiable shape and color to look for.

All-inclusive Leadership

Leadership as a point of connection

You know and care about the children in your program. You most likely know when they’re having an “off” day or a tough week. With Skillastics®, you can allow children to choose options such as the number of repetitions they do as a group, or the Skillastics® activity of the day. Being selected as a leader with the option to choose may give that child a sense of control in an overwhelming or tough week. Identifying a child that could flourish with just a little bit of encouragement can return their confidence, and help them realize tough times are only temporary.

By selecting different leaders for different reasons, all kids learn some critical growth and development skills, such as the value of diversity, acceptance of others’ choices that  may lead them to try new things, and even how to negotiate and compromise. Taking turns in leadership also develops that understanding that a good leader and a good team member are equally important. With Skillastics®, adding in opportunities for student-led activities merges fun, educator ease-of-use, and brain development all into one! 

Surprising Consequences of Physical Inactivity

Surprising Consequences of Physical Inactivity

You don’t need a degree in sports medicine to know that some consequences of physical inactivity are as plain as the nose on your face. Obesity–both as a child and later as an adult–is one of the primary risks of a sedentary lifestyle. But we now know that there are more long-term reactions the body has to a lack of movement that are lurking just beneath the surface. These consequences are having more far-reaching effects than we realized for our mental and physical well-being. 

Mental Health

A Brazilian study showed that people who were not engaged in regular physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic had higher levels of anxiety, stress, and depression than people who maintained regular PE. More recent studies from the World Health Organization confirm that more than 80% of the world’s adolescent population lacks sufficient physical fitness. This means a significant portion of our young people are heading for a mental health crisis, as long-term effects of poor mental health can contribute to:

  • Family conflicts
  • Unemployment 
  • Lower income than peers
  • Absenteeism at school or work
  • Increased health-risk behavior
  • Legal or financial problems
mental health

Physical Health

Much like a car, the body runs well when we take care of it. Regular oil changes and maintenance checkups help ensure that your fluid systems are clean and circulating through the vehicle properly. If we don’t perform regular maintenance those fluids will start to clog and your car’s performance will start to suffer until the vehicle eventually breaks down. When we don’t take care of our bodies with regular exercise, the body starts to degrade and break down the same way. Bodily degradation looks like this:

  • A decrease in skeletal muscle mass, as the muscles aren’t being used they send signals to the brain that the muscle isn’t needed, resulting in weakness and atrophy
  • Poor blood circulation, increasing the risk of blood clots and leg cramps
  • A weakened immune system, as exercise changes antibodies and white blood cell counts
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac disease as insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, is influenced by exercise

It’s Never Too Late

The great news is that our bodies are truly amazing because we can reverse the short and long-term effects of physical inactivity by simply adding physical activity. Even if children who were previously inactive engage in activity now, they can reverse these consequences, and the earlier we can start, the less time it takes. When we create environments that children love, we build a foundation and a positive mindset around an activity that helps ensure children stay active as adults.  Creating that environment doesn’t come without its own challenges, however.  

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us we have to be flexible when it comes to implementing physical activity. The risks of inactivity are clear, proving that now more than ever, we have to prioritize activity as we evolve with the times.  From remote classroom settings that forced us to look at how educators offer physical activity online and how we engage with students remotely, to the newest challenges of the “great resignation” as employees leave their positions in search of something new, your physical activity programs should be flexible and offer solutions, without another headache or problem. Skillastics® Specialty Digital Programs were there with you as we partnered together in the remote learning world. They are now offered on-site as clubs and or to help with staff shortages.  In addition, as  we continue to see staffing shortages as employees and educators shift their roles, Skillastics® Activity Kits offer resources and curriculum - everything you need to provide students a “kick start” of a life-long love of physical activity. Skillastics® makes it simple to plug and play, with innovative activities that can take less than a minute to set up and easy-to-use manuals and curriculum that anyone can use, regardless of experience. Our quick set-up and all-included kit systems ensure even the newest temporary staffer on your team can jump right in, get engaged in high-quality activity faster, and help you start reversing that cycle of inactivity, one exercise at a time.

A Guide to STEM Academics (And How You Can Improve Student Retention)

A Guide to STEM Academics (And How You Can Improve Student Retention)

It’s in a child’s nature to be curious, ask questions, explore new things, and expand their interests. These days, it’s unsurprising that so many kids show interest in science and technology, among other subjects. So, how can educators harness a young child’s curiosity about such topics to propel them into a positive future? Teachers across the nation are introducing STEM academics into their classrooms to encourage students to follow these interests into adulthood.

What Is STEM?

STEM is an acronym, standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and incorporating these subjects into the standardized curriculum is becoming ever popular among America and the world’s teachers.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) calls STEM academics an “interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.”

In short, STEM academics or education is a method of introducing a broad range of foundational concepts and skills that prepare students for their future careers.

Examples of Stem Programs:

  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Engineering (aerospace, civil, mechanical, etc.)
  • Robotics
  • Physics
  • Mathematical biology

Areas of study within STEM are practically endless, making it possible for students to find activities and interests that they genuinely love and enjoy learning about in the classroom.


STEM academics offer an array of benefits to young minds, helping them build towards a better and brighter future.

In the past, the landscape of industries like science, math, and engineering, was dominated by upper-class white men. Now, integrating STEM activities into everyday school curriculums allows everyone, from all genders and backgrounds, to explore their interests in the subjects and get started on what one day could be a very lucrative career.

Let’s take a look at all the advantages that STEM academics offer to students.

Benefits of Stem Academics Include:

  • Encourages exploration, creativity, and ingenuity
  • Allows for firsthand knowledge application
  • Teaches valuable technology skills
  • Encourages teamwork and collaboration among students, specifically for problem-solving
  • Lowers gender discrepancies in STEM industry environments
  • Teaches students to think critically about a variety of situations
  • Provides education on a wide breadth of topics and subjects
  • It helps students meet future workforce demands

As our world continues on an upward trajectory towards automation and modernization through technology, it’s crucial that kids keep up with the current trends. STEM academics allow students to work within a safe environment to explore their interests and gain a wealth of knowledge to put them at an advantage in their future occupations.

Getting Students Interested in STEM Academics

It’s understood that academic interest will wane for children during their middle school years. This waning in interest may be due to puberty, budding romantic interests, video games, or other distractions during such a formative period. Although interest might be at an all-time low, it’s essential to encourage STEM education at this age because it’s also when career interests and aspirations are starting to form.

So, how can educators get students interested in and involved with STEM subjects when the words math and science surely make them shudder? The answer really is quite simple; You need to spark interest through activities that don’t feel like schoolwork. There are several unique and exciting ways to do this:

1. Explore Outdoors

Outside play is an excellent way to increase your classroom’s interest in STEM academics. There is a wide variety of fun activities to do outdoors that incorporate science, physics, and other aspects of STEM academics. Nature walks, insect observation, or even merely rolling different objects down a hill are excellent ways to expose students to STEM education.

2. Interact With Animals

Animals are another great way to involve science and biology in your classroom curriculum. Teaching students how to interact safely with a classroom pet provides a variety of benefits. You can teach the concepts of observation, nutrition, and the life cycle, while also encouraging responsibility and accountability.

3. Prioritize Play

Play is a critical part of a child’s development. Incorporating the four unique types of play – pretend, exploratory, guided, and free play – allows children to explore what interests them without any outside pressure. Even toys as simple as building blocks can encourage children to think critically and creatively.

Guided play is a great way to get your students involved with STEM subjects. Utilize tools like this STEM group physical activity from Skillastics to encourage critical thinking while still incorporating the opportunity for play.

If your classroom is primarily online at this time, there are plenty of online resources too, which can help you guide play while teaching STEM academics curriculum. This virtual Skillastics activity blends STEM with sports to show how science can be fun for students.

4. Teach Baking Skills

Anyone who has ever tried to bake a cake from scratch knows that culinary arts are more like a science. Teaching baking skills is also an excellent way to incorporate knowledge of measurements as well as chemistry. It’s a fun and unique way to integrate STEM education into your usual curriculum.

5. Utilize New Technology

If your district or program has the resources for new technology, expose your students to it right away. Being technologically inept in this day and age will leave a person miles behind the rest. It’s crucial that kids have access to technological education to ensure they have the tools to succeed in the future.

Retaining Student Involvement in STEM Education

It’s challenging to get students to start STEM activities at first, and once they’re hooked, you hope that the interest remains. However, retaining student interest in STEM academics is a challenge in itself. Below, we explore the best ways to maintain involvement in STEM education amongst your students:

  • Incorporate exciting new technologies
  • Allow students the freedom to explore interests and different activities
  • Blend things like sports or the outdoors into the activities to make it more attractive for a young demographic
  • Strike a balance between (or blend) arts and humanities into STEM activities to keep things interesting for everyone

STEM subjects are not for everyone, but it’s a crucial part of today’s education system, so our future generations are prepared for the workplace. Integrating arts, humanities, and physical activities into your classroom or afterschool program provides children the chance to spark an interest in STEM while still enjoying the activity.

Retain interest in STEM academics using fun in-person or virtual activities from resources like Skillastics. Your students will stimulate and strengthen their knowledge of STEM subjects while enjoying engaging games and activities.

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

Kids Watching TV

Balancing Screen Time and Physical Activity for Kids Amidst Coronavirus

For many parents, increased screen time resulting from the current Coronavirus pandemic can pose some serious concerns. Children spending extended periods in front of a screen, whether it’s a phone, tablet, laptop, or television, are at risk of experiencing severe physical and mental health issues, and many parents are scrambling to find resources for physical activity during the pandemic.

While the time children spend in front of the television or other devices has always been a concern for parents, the Covid-19 pandemic is creating an even bigger challenge. School, Afterschool activities, social events, and even doctor’s appointments are all being held online, so it’s practically impossible to avoid the virtual world. Children can benefit from a bit of time behind the screen, but when their intake is increased tenfold, it’s best to strike a balance between screen time and physical activity.

Coronavirus is already having severe effects on adults’ mental and physical health, and children are also at risk. It’s crucial to keep kids active and away from devices as much as possible at this time to ensure a healthy and happy life long-term.

Increased Screen Time Affects Children’s Health

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and too much time spent online can have a significant impact on a person’s health. These days, children are exposed to tons of devices at an early age, making it difficult to pry them away for extended periods to get in some exercise time.

Unfortunately, the lack of activity in youths is causing a massive epidemic of childhood obesity. On top of obesity, there is a wide range of other health issues caused by inadequate amounts of exercise, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other severe afflictions. Children need regular activity to improve on:

  • Dexterity
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Musculoskeletal strength
  • Reaction time
  • Fine motor skills
  • Communication skills

Without enough exercise, kids will experience some nasty side effects both physically and mentally.

Mental and Physical Health Go Hand in Hand

With childhood obesity constantly on the rise, it’s unsurprising that there is also a sharp uptick in depression and anxiety in the younger generations. Weight gain has severe adverse effects on mental health and can lead to a lack of confidence and an abundance of body image issues in young people.

During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which contain a chemical that makes us feel good both inside and out. It’s easy for a child or teen to feel depressed, anxious, or even experience suicidal ideations without enough endorphins. Physical fitness is an essential part of keeping your child’s mind and body healthy during a pandemic.

The Sweet Spot: Striking a Balance Between Fitness and Online Activity

Finding time for fitness amidst the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is understandably tricky. Don’t get beat down if you’ve yet to find the perfect balance between physical activity and online sessions. Utilize any of the following tips and start prioritizing physical and mental health in your children today:

1. Make Movement Mandatory

Now, we’re not trying to make physical activity seem less fun by making it mandatory. However, free time to explore different fitness activities and games gives children the chance to step away from the screen, decompress, and re-energize their bodies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily for children ages 5-17. With the pandemic abound, getting kids active for an hour per day probably seems impossible. Still, there are several ways to integrate physical activity into your child’s daily distance learning routine.

Incorporate regular, structured exercise time into your young student’s schedule. Just like most schools have mandatory recess time, so should your online classroom. It doesn’t even have to seem like exercise! There are plenty of fun activities that engage children and increase their heart rates, improving physical health without the child ever even noticing. Some excellent examples of fun at-home exercises and activities include:

  • Creating dance routines
  • Building an obstacle course
  • Hula hooping
  • Jumping rope
  • Going on a scavenger hunt

Whatever activity you choose to incorporate into your child’s routine, the end goal is still to get kids excited about staying away from device screens, even if it is only for a short while each day.

2. Incorporate Outdoor Activities

After being cooped up for months on end, children are itching to get outdoors and enjoy time with their friends and family. Weekends are a great time to encourage physical activity outdoors. The options for fun, outdoor activities that positively impact physical fitness are endless. From bike rides and tossing the ball around the backyard to more strenuous activities like long hikes and rock climbing, there is bound to be an activity you can enjoy (while still following social distancing guidelines).

3. Utilize Virtual Physical Activity Programs

When winter comes, and the weather isn’t cooperating, so you can’t go outside, there are alternative options that enable physical activity indoors. Although you definitely want to continue encouraging kids to take time away from their devices, some screen time is still okay. Consider utilizing a virtual physical activity program to teach your young student new skills and foster a love for fitness simultaneously.

Several virtual physical activity programs are available from Skillastics, a large group physical activity resource used by school districts, teachers, and afterschool programs around the United States. Skillastics offers fun, online fitness programming in the following subjects:

  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Martial arts
  • Basketball
  • Mindfulness
  • Move N’ Groove
  • STEM and sports
  • And more!

Skillastics virtual physical activity program is the perfect tool to help break up the monotony of in-home education experiences. Your children will love how easy it is to learn, and the virtual program easily transitions back to in-person classes, so they can have something to look forward to when things get back to normal.


Too much time spent behind screens on televisions, computers, tablets, and other devices is detrimental to a healthy child’s development. It’s difficult to determine when enough is enough when it comes to screen time amidst Covid-19. If you’re concerned about your child’s online intake, consider implementing our exercise tips as mentioned above. Don’t hesitate and risk harming your child’s physical and mental health; start shopping for virtual physical activity programs from Skillastics today.

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


5 Fun Fitness Tips for Your YMCA Program

It’s no easy task to engage children and teens in an active lifestyle. In recent years, as toddlers clutch tablets and keep their eyes glued to screens constantly, there has been a sharp uptick in incidences of childhood obesity. Young people desperately need exercise and healthy eating habits to achieve an overall sense of well-being and avoid severe health issues in their adulthood. After school activities or programs at the local YMCA can encourage kids to find the fun in fitness and healthy lifestyle habits.

How “The Y” Has Helped Families for Over 175 Years

The Young Men’s Christian Association, better known as the YMCA or “The Y,” was founded in 1844 on the principles of developing and maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. The YMCA has served over 45 million people in the last 176 years, and there are active programs in over 120 countries worldwide. You’ll likely find that your local YMCA offers a variety of programs for young kids and teens that emphasize the importance of improving several aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including:

  • Physical fitness
  • Art and creativity
  • Humanities
  • Social skills
  • Sexual health and education
  • Healthy diet choices

For nearly two hundred years, the YMCA has helped families across the world encourage a healthy, active lifestyle and mindset in their children. With fun, engaging programming, kids can feel empowered to take control of their body’s health.

5 Fun Fitness Tips for Your YMCA Program

Building healthy habits start in early childhood. Exercise is essential to the healthy development of children’s bodies and minds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children and adolescents receive one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. One fantastic resource for incorporating fitness into children’s lives is through fun programs at a nearby YMCA location.

Integrate fun exercises and fitness activities into your YMCA programming, so children start to associate enjoyment with movement. Establishing health-conscious attitudes early on will (hopefully) lead to a lifetime of love for physical activity.

1. Set Goals

Setting specific goals for physical fitness helps kids to stay focused during different YMCA programs. Work with your program participants to set realistic, flexible, and achievable goals. When participants reach their goals, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that inspires them to continue setting personal fitness goals outside of your program. Remember to celebrate the small wins and encourage each child as they continue to improve their physical fitness.

2. Go for Group Activities

Children learn a lot from their peers as their brains and bodies develop. Solitary exercise is still vital to a person’s overall well-being. However, group activities allow children to receive external affirmation and motivation. Group activities push your program participants to reach their greatest potential.

Utilize group activity kits for your YMCA program, which teaches kids about the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits, all in a fun and inspiring manner. A wide array of activity kits are available that focus on educating children about sports, nutrition, STEM, language, social skill, and self-improvement. Kids gain a lot of inspiration from each other when playing and exercising in groups. It’s a fantastic way to sharpen children’s social skills while strengthening their physical fitness as well.

3. Instill a Love for Sports

Something we know to be universally true is that people love sports. On every continent, you’ll find sprawling sports stadiums packed with fans on any given weekend. Every two years, the world stops to watch the best athletes compete in the summer and winter Olympic games. There are teams in almost every major U.S. city dedicated to playing baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and more.

These world-famous athletes didn’t pick up a ball later on in life and simply walk onto the field with immense skills. Their love for sports started from a young age, and they were encouraged to continue working on their skills throughout adolescence. The perfect place to start instilling a passion for sports early on is at the YMCA.

Encourage your program participants to take part in a variety of different sports to find one they love. The YMCA offers an excellent opportunity for kids to try out activities they might not otherwise have access to at home. If you notice a child taking particular interest in a specific sport, you can encourage them to seek out more serious teams in the area for them to join.

4. Make Time for Mindfulness

Healthy lifestyles hinge on much more than just exercise and nutrition. The YMCA was founded on the premise that people should better their bodies and their minds together. There’s a significant correlation between adequate physical fitness and improved mental health, so consider incorporating mindful exercises into your program. There are a variety of exercises you can utilize to motivate your participants to engage in mindfulness, including:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Pilates
  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises

5. Turn Playtime Into Exercise

It can be challenging to get kids involved in activities that are apparent modes of exercise. Things like running and lifting weights can seem unappealing to young people. Luckily, you can easily integrate exercise into your YMCA program without the participants even realizing it. No, this is not a trick; it’s simply the truth. There are tons of fun ways to turn playtime into an opportunity for physical fitness. Children won’t even notice that they’re burning off calories and strengthening their bodies because the following activities are so fun and engaging:

  • Jump-rope or double dutch
  • Playing tag
  • Capture the flag
  • Juggling
  • Musical chairs
  • Dancing
  • Simon Says

In the age of technology, some children might not even know these games exist. Your YMCA program is an excellent opportunity to teach kids classic games that involve running, jumping, and increasing their heart rates.


Exercise is essential in improving children’s physical and mental well-being. Participating in fitness activities and programs at places like the YMCA helps children develop a wide range of useful skills that last a lifetime. These programs provide children with a safe place to improve their social skills, motor skills, and lifestyle habits. Shop for new and exciting fitness activities to implement into your YMCA programming regularly so children can learn just how fun (and important) daily exercise is for their bodies and minds.

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

Childhood Obesity

10 Unfortunate Facts About Childhood Obesity

One of the saddest conditions for a child to experience is obesity. The discomfort from excess weight and the limitations that obesity causes are difficult to bear. Unfortunately, we are still a society in which this condition affects children more than it should.

We have the education, knowledge, and ability to do better, but childhood obesity persists. While the apparent consequences relating to cosmetic problems like finding appropriate clothing sizes and looking different come to mind, there are other reasons that we need to combat childhood obesity.

Problems Related To Childhood Obesity

  1. Long Term Health Problems. Childhood obesity may affect a child’s future, as well. There is every chance that obesity extends into adulthood, causing a host of social, emotional, and physical health problems. Whereas obesity affects development when young, the weight can cause significant damage to organs like the heart over time.
  2. Diabetes Risks Increase. Diabetes comes in two forms, and while one may manifest as a genetic condition, the other is an effect caused by obesity. Being overweight does not automatically ensure diabetes, but it’s a leading cause. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to develop diabetes, a condition that is difficult to manage for adults, let alone a young child.
  3. Complications From Weight. The human body was not meant to carry excessive weight, and obesity stresses the whole system. From the bones and joints that bear the brunt of the weight to the blood vessels and heart of the circulatory system that must strain to pump through so much excess weight, obesity causes many secondary health issues for children.
  4. Damaging Self-Esteem. The emotional burden of childhood obesity is often a lifelong struggle. Children who suffer from obesity experience feelings of shame or embarrassment that affect their mental health. As these children grow into adults, many continue to carry negative emotions and maintain low self-esteem.
  5. Too Easily Occurring. Children today have more options for physical activity, but they also have increased access to unhealthy foods or sedentary hobbies that contribute to childhood obesity. Fast food deliveries and lower prices at fast food restaurants like dollar menus make it easier to choose these unhealthy convenience foods. The amount of time children spend in front of screens for homework, school, and recreation also means they move less overall. It’s almost effortless to end up with higher caloric intake and less physical activity.
  6. Parental Guidance Required. Children must rely on their parents for guidance, but despite so many sources of information for parents to reference, there is still a lack of understanding about childhood obesity. Many parents with children who suffer from obesity do not have all the facts about health and nutrition that they must manage to guide their children.
  7. Lack Of Options. For those parents who understand that their children are obese and at risk, they may not have many choices to combat the condition. Depending on their socioeconomic background, some families can’t afford the solutions that could counteract the factors leading to their child’s obesity. Other parents may not be equipped with the ability to parent through the necessary actions that must be taken to counsel a child who is obese.
  8. Social Media Shaming. The rise of social media means children today are always under a microscope; their lives unfold publicly. While there are many positive elements to social media, there is a dark side that comes from shaming or online bullying. For children who are obese, they may struggle further to feel confident or accepted within this medium. They also may attempt to compare themselves against false standards from manufactured images, worsening their feelings, and perpetuating their condition. Encouraging a digital detox will help remove your child from negative situations and inspire them to look elsewhere for entertainment.
  9. Stigma Of Weight. As much as we have seen cultural shifts in the perception of weight, there is still a stigma against obesity. Body positive movements have come a long way and made many inroads, but there is still a lack of acceptance for larger sizes, particularly in children. Our culture and society have stepped back from a narrow view that promotes thinness as representative for all, and more body types are finally recognized. However, obesity still gets associated with many negative stereotypes.
  10. Not Enough Change. Too much effort to embrace physical differences obfuscates the health effects of obesity. While it’s crucial to maintain good mental health, this should not come at the expense of physical appearance. It’s a delicate balance to accept that a child is obese and work to preserve the child’s mental health while also battling against the factors that contribute to the condition. Acceptance shouldn’t equate to permission but rather be the first step toward making changes.

A Complicated Condition

It’s difficult to believe that childhood obesity continues to exist as a health problem facing children, but that doesn’t change the fact that it does. We have the education, knowledge, and ability to do better. Parents, teachers, and students in society today must continue to understand and combat any factors that contribute to childhood obesity.

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

Fitness and Fun Activities

The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Learning

We may not be able to gather in groups right now, but we can make the best of a difficult situation by planning for the day when we can resume our regular activities. While we have this time outside of the usual routine, we can use it to learn new ideas that will come in handy later. As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We can use this time to our advantage, so we return even stronger and better prepared.

Making Lemonade

This is an excellent time to practice what you teach. It’s easy to fall into a lull and become inactive without our routines to keep us going, so you may want to take time and reflect on this process to help relate to children who feel similarly. Children who have been without regular exercise for some time may resist movement that pushes them out of their “lull,” their comfort zone. How do you inspire someone to move more when they are resistant or in the habit of staying comfortable? How do you motivate yourself to get up and keep going?

When we’re in the middle of our daily routine, it’s hard to stop and think about these questions. With the slower pace we find ourselves in today, it can be helpful to be reflective and consider new ways to do things. What has worked in the past? What are you looking forward to trying out?

It is vital to keep going, to keep moving. The more we move, the more energy we create, which allows us to be productive. When we move our bodies, the extra blood flow to our brains and the work our muscles do gives us a boost, and we can get more done. Overall, we feel better and more motivated. Our students do, too.

Activity Improves Learning

This motivational boost from exercise and fitness makes movement a crucial part of the learning process. With regular movement, children are energized to face the day. Exercise affects a child’s body by influencing sharper thinking and higher frustration tolerances for challenging work. Their bodies are better equipped to manage the stress of learning.

In addition to the effects on their body, exercise makes it easier for children to concentrate. Higher levels of brain chemicals released during exercise improve the brain’s ability to retain information. Memory is improved, and new information is absorbed faster.

As retention is a significant performance indicator for academic success, the ability for exercise to help students absorb and apply knowledge better makes it a vital component to students’ academic progress. If kids’ brains experience activity and perform better in school, then we must create more movement opportunities to help them develop.

The Value Of Physical Activity

For those children without options to move or ways to be active, we need to create opportunities or provide access. The more we expose kids to physical activity, the more they will stay engaged, ideally seeking exercise activities on their own. As they engage in movement activities, kids will begin to understand their bodies and movements, further developing their awareness of their bodies.

Through kinesthetics, the study of body motion, and one’s own ability to move, children can begin to develop this awareness. Classes like Physical Education or after school programs engaging in physical activities are good ways to build children’s perception of their bodies and how they move.

The goal of developing awareness is to give children an appreciation for their ability to move as well as the importance of exercising. When children learn about the way their bodies react to movement, they will be more likely to engage in physical activity on their own.

For children who don’t readily exercise or have not been exposed to the fundamentals of movement and exercise, they don’t develop the concept of movement in quite the same way. For all children, it is more important than ever to include kinesthetics into their curricula so that they can learn the value of movement and how they can be active.

Building Kinesthetics Programs

Creating programs that reach kids and help them develop their physical ability requires engagement and variety so that all children can participate and gain these essential skills. Program plans can build confidence and foster a love for exercise by focusing on skill development and fun activities.

As you plan, remember that the objective is to introduce movement, build body awareness, and scaffold to more advanced skills over time. Break down broad concepts into smaller parts that can become games. Repetition builds muscle memory, so look for ways to repeat the skills but with new techniques; think, “same rules, different game.”

As children interact more with movement, they can begin to experience the positive effects of exercise. They learn better. This is the higher purpose of kinesthetics. While life is interrupted in this way, it can be challenging to focus on the future when the present is so uncertain. However, there is hope to be found in plans for the future, so use this time to look ahead. What can you build when everyone comes back together?

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

Childhood Fitness

20 Hard Facts About Childhood Fitness

As children engage in activities that get them moving, there are significant side effects that participating has on their lives. From better health overall to long-term benefits into adulthood, childhood fitness has some great byproducts beyond just fun.

Fun should be a main driving factor in getting children to participate in physical activity. Having fun with fitness continues to drive motivation for children. However, the following are 20 hard facts about the benefits of incorporating fitness into the lives of youths:

  1. Development. It is better for bones and muscles throughout the body to get active early. The musculoskeletal system benefits from regular and varied activity.
  2. Attitude. When children feel good about themselves, this improves their outlook on life, opening them up to discover and maximize their potential. 
  3. Growth. Children who get active early are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.
  4. Emotional Development. Participating in group exercise gives children the chance to learn healthy coping skills to manage stress.
  5. Maturity. Children who participate in activities are more likely to have a sense of self as part of something bigger, rather than a more self-centric view.
  6. Leadership. Getting active gives children experience leading group activities or making choices that affect others.
  7. Confidence. When children learn new skills, they gain more self-respect and feel more confident.
  8. Health. Active children tend to retain their healthy habits and emerge into adulthood in better overall condition.
  9. Diet. The ability for children to connect healthy eating with activity early in life will sustain them as they understand the importance of making good food choices throughout their lives.
  10. Cognition. Childhood fitness improves kids’ ability to think and learn.
  11. Movement. Fitness counteracts modern sedentary lifestyles and provides an opportunity to move as well as instill a desire to be active.
  12. Strength. Getting fit as a child contributes to feeling strong enough to manage the changes and stress of life as well as actual strength to withstand the physical demands of a full life.
  13. Heart. Activity in childhood leads to better heart health as an adult.
  14. Success. The more fitness children achieve, the more likely they are to seek out other achievements, engaging with life and striving for success.
  15. Participation. When children are active, they gain skills that can lead to membership of a team or club.
  16. Wellness. Children that engage in physical activity will be more likely to protect their bodies than harm themselves through unhealthy choices such as substance abuse.
  17. Motivation. The effort to reach fitness goals will extend to other aspects of life and make it more possible to accomplish goals overall.
  18. Knowledge. As children participate in fitness, they gain knowledge about the way the body works and the requirements for living a healthy lifestyle.
  19. Body Image. Through fitness, children develop a realistic and accurate understanding of a healthy body so that they are less susceptible to disorders or negative body image.
  20. Power. Children that engage in fitness are more capable and self-reliant, and as a result, feel empowered.

Any one of these would be reason alone to get kids active but imagine the collective advantages that come from all twenty working together. Children will be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally, for their childhood as well as adulthood. 

Imagine The Possibilities 

The healthier we grow as a society, the more we can develop culturally and individually. It’s a benefit to the world we live in when everyone has better health. 

The financial costs alone for managing poor health are astronomical, not to mention the tragic loss of lives from preventable diseases or emotional suffering on relationships from the strain of caregiving. All these detract from our quality of life. 

As society finds more reasons to be sedentary, from our workplace functions that require sitting at a computer to our advances in technology that make it less necessary to budge from the couch (order dinner, groceries, and clothes, all online!), it’s even more important to get moving early and often. Small movements grow larger over time as fitness transforms body strength and allows more opportunities to handle greater exercise.

While a simple game of catch seems like a small gesture, maybe meant to occupy a child’s attention, the movement does more good than just keeping them busy and having fun for a bit; it has a greater impact on the wellbeing of that child and their place in the world. The simple movements like that game of catch with a ball transform into bigger opportunities to move, like group sports or activities centered on ball play.

The facts of the matter are clear:  fitness improves the quality of life, and it’s hard for anyone to argue against that. The sooner we accept our ability to improve life through movement and activity, the better we will feel in life.

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

Fitness Skillastics

Guide to Healthy and Active Students

Students today experience unparalleled pressure compared to previous generations. The stakes are higher for education and college entrances, a college degree likely won’t be enough preparation for a career, and technology has increased speed and decreased privacy which can be for good but also the bad.

Kids today are under a microscope, held to high standards, and not only expected to outperform their peers but also their past performance. Even kindergarten, when school is supposed to be sweet and fun, has picked up its game. Now, full-day kindergarten combined with much more stringent standards for math, writing, and reading has created a new, more challenging experience.

It all trickles down from the competition for jobs experienced at the end of their academic careers, but that means kids these days push up-hill against academic and life pressures from the very start of school until the finish. It’s hard and arduous, and kids need help. How can we keep students healthy and active so that they succeed in life?

Establish Positive Coping Mechanism

Coping skills for stress are crucial for a successful academic career, but too many children fall into using unhealthy methods. From overeating convenience foods and processed snacks to absorbing themselves in sedentary worlds of too much screen time, kids have options to soothe away the stress that are easy, but often unhealthy.

Children need to recognize the connection between their success and their health. When we choose to exert ourselves and exercise, we create added benefits beyond just weight loss. People who move are more likely to cope with stress better. They will feel stronger because realistically, they are stronger at the biological level, and that will impact their brain. There is a highly identifiable connection between an active lifestyle and improved cognition.

Create The Opportunity To Move

For this generation of children who experience more confined and structured play, they may need to seek out an activity. They may not gravitate to sports or exercise on their own, so it’s best to build in movement and activity within their lifestyle.

For these children, they will benefit from learning skills and ways to be active that they can apply throughout their lives. Instead of choosing a sport to master, children today can learn the fundamental skills required to be active. By breaking down sports into skills, we can provide opportunities to gain the foundation for movement that equip this generation to find and participate in activities throughout life.

Offer Fun And Engaging Options

When kids enjoy themselves while being active, they are more likely to return to the same activity or springboard to another one. The feeling of accomplishment from participating will motivate and inspire more of the same behavior. As they grow, this sense of enjoyment and accomplishment from exercising will grow, too, so it’s essential to instill the joy of exercise as early as possible rather than coerce kids to move.

No one wants to feel forced into exercise or activity. If kids do feel this way, then they usually abandon the project or task as soon as they feel frustrated or unmotivated. The best way to engage children in an activity is to make it fun so that they feel enjoyment. The overarching goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle that inspires children to seek out exercise and movement. Making the development of skills into a fun experience ultimately helps foster the established goal.

Focus Attention Away From Screens

You can get your students to fall in love with the idea and actuality of activity. It requires adults who inspire, motivate, and demonstrate a passion for exercise in such a way that kids see the movement as fun, not fearsome. Children are afraid to fail, and too many children who fear failure will avoid anything that feels too risky. When we break down barriers and create safe places to explore movement, then children will respond.

It’s tough today to break kids out of their comfort zones, primarily the screens that occupy them. Screen time offers safety; when they’re watching television or playing a video game, no one witnesses any failures. We are tasked with convincing these children to learn new skills and take risks in ways that rival the security of a screen.

Adults must provide a level playing field, accessible games, cooperative environments, and consistent reassurance. Having this responsibility can feel like a tall task and may be overwhelming. What can compete against the screens?

Providing programs that exist to build skills using play can break the dependence on screens and create healthy and active students. From the youngest to the oldest child, all children enjoy playing. When you layer in skill development with just enough challenge to keep kids’ interest without intimidating them and provide a supportive environment in which to enjoy movement, then kids finally have a reason to put down their screens.

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


Tennis Skillastics®: Fun and Skills All in One!

(Common Core, Physical Literacy and Standards Based Physical Fitness)

My favorite Skillastics® kit is Tennis Skillastics®. It is no surprise that I have a true passion for Tennis. I am a 28-year veteran High School Tennis Coach and played Tennis myself since I was 8. We as teachers may give our students the opportunity to learn and play tennis. Like anything else, the more skilled students become the more they will enjoy the sport. It is an activity, which may be played throughout their lives. It may be played at any level, gender or age. Teaching Tennis in school has never been a question for me, with or without a court. I have seen the bonds made between families and friends, which has such an amazing impact on their lives. Tennis stimulates the mind, body and emotions. It involves cooperative engagement as well as skill development. Tennis decreases the risk of chronic illness, increases social skills, improves mental focus, and discipline. Participating in tennis activities is an excellent way to relieve stress.

Skillastics® works on skills while increasing MVPA in a game situation. It works well for a warm-up/fitness lesson in a Sport Education Season or as a full lesson.
My favorite way to use Tennis Skillastics® is to divide students into teams as in a Sport Education Unit. Students must first learn the terminology, skill and fitness task for the game. This may be done within their teams covering a few skills/terms each day. When using the Sport Education model teams will be awarded points for fair play, fitness, warm-up, completion and order of finish. This is a great activity due to the fact that students are responsible for their own learning and what a great way to include the standards. Using stations may add a common core component and make students responsible for their own learning. Students work together to improve skills and knowledge needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Secondary Stations for Tennis Skillastics®

1. Teams begin with their home base station grid.
2. Read the task card and perform the skill together. This could be considered a common core/physical literacy activity. Students are responsible for their own learning.
3. Perform each station for a time limit. (Example: 3 miinutes each station) When the music stops (using Tabata Pro) move to the next station.
4. Continue until all stations have been completed.

After completing the stations, students will remain with their teams for a fun Skillastics® game. Teams send a player to the mat to roll the die and get the number of the activity to be performed. Students are given the level to participate for the game activity. The game may be played for a time limit or when one team gets around the mat once or twice.

If you would like more information on ways to incorporate Tennis Skillastics® into your curriculum feel free to contact me at or view my website at

Bottom line. “Love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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