Does Your Kid Need an Exercise Plan?: 5 Things to Know About Kids This Week

Our curated list of kid-related news for April 8, 2016.

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Dana Villamagna, Toca Magazine Writer
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  • 1. Kids are their own personal trainers. Making kids walk laps at recess or do other forms of planned, adult-led exercise isn’t what kids really need for physical fitness, said nature-based play program Timbernook’s founder Angela Hanscom. Hanscom’s blog post (via The Washington Post) about kids and planned exercise vs. free play time stressed the meaninglessness of such exercise for kids. “I honestly believe that the school has the best of intentions. They truly want to help the children. With an epidemic of obesity among children, many schools are searching for the best way to help children become more physically fit and healthy. However, we are going about it all wrong. If we truly want children to be strong and physically adept, we need to start allowing for more opportunities for free play and less adult-directed movement activities.” (Kids need an exercise plan, right? Wrong. Here’s what they really need.)
  • 2. Doctor adds bullying check-in to checkups. Bullying can affect kids’ mental and physical health. So doctors who ask kids whether they’re being bullied or made fun of at school during medical checkups may gather important information about what kind of help they really need, said Dr. Jessica W. Tsai in an essay on The New York Times Well blog. While working as a resident physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center, Tsai encountered a patient with behavioral problems at school whose parents didn’t know he was being bullied until she, the physician, asked him directly as part of the medical visit. According to Tsai, studies show that kids who have been bullied have “higher rates of both physical and mental illness, including abdominal pain, bed-wetting, poor appetite, sleeping problems, anxiety and depression” and “higher rates of medication use associated with treating headaches, stomachaches, nervousness and difficulty sleeping.” (Checking on bullying at the doctor’s office)
  • 3. Read poetry (not the dictionary) so kids will love books. Author Kwame Alexander gave an impassioned plea on Morning Edition to parents to lay off of making kids read heavy literature and thick books — like the encyclopedia, which Alexander’s own dad made him read — and start reading fun poetry and books that spark kids’ interests. (How to get kids hooked on books? Use poetry. It is a surefire way)
  • 4.1024_play_together_learn Recess movement expands to New Jersey. Parents in New Jersey are fighting for a mandatory 20 minutes of recess a day for their elementary school-age kids. On Fox & Friends this week, New Jersey parent Pauline Hynes said that the current “Teacher Directed Physical Education” for kids isn’t the same as  the recess that kids need to talk to friends freely, play self-directed games and just run around. Gov. Chris Christie has previously vetoed this bill and called it “stupid.” But the New Jersey senate has reintroduced the bill. (NJ Bill Aims to Make Daily Recess Mandatory for Kids)
  • 5. Can podcasts capture kids’ attention? Podcasts are a huge hit with adults, but hardly anyone is making them for kids. Why? Many in media doubt that kids will latch onto the listening trend, according to a recent article by journalist Stephanie Hayes for The Atlantic. But other analysts say the podcast market is ripe for kid content. (Where are all the Kidcasts?)

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