Shake Your Groove Thang: Getting in Movement Before and After School


When I was in Kindergarten, we started every day with two songs. We each had our own “personal space” in the classroom and early on in the morning we would start singing and doing the body motions to “Father Abraham had Seven Sons.” At the time, I just thought it was fun, but looking back as a teacher and parent, how genius of my teacher to get us moving and grooving each morning.

Movement is so important in our children’s day, especially with school starting and so much time behind their desks.

So, how can we incorporate movement and exercise into their daily routines?

Movement in walkingExercise for kids is going to look different than for adults. We want our kids playing and being physically active in some way. According to Kids Health, there are three key elements of fitness we should encourage our kids to include in their activities: endurance, strength, and flexibility. Keeping it fun, developing a habit of movement, and being active as a family will really help instill a healthy lifestyle for your kiddos.    


Endurance comes into play when big muscles are moving and aerobic activity is happening. You might not even realize that your kids are doing this already every day! Some activities would include playing sports on a team or in your backyard, swimming, walking, or running. Even time spent at the playground or playing tag with a sibling or friend counts. I’ve noticed kids in our neighborhood jumping on their trampolines for hours now that the sun is shining.      


Occasionally, I will find our kids walking around our house with hand weights that my husband or I have left around. While I appreciate them mimicking us and looking at our modeling of exercise, I’m more worried they’ll break their toes carrying them around. Kids can build strength through repetition of movement: doing the monkey bars, crunches, bowling, or dropping for some push-ups if they enjoy that. Recently, my two older boys (7 and 5) participated in a race where they had to climb obstacles and run through mud. They had a blast and proudly display their medals at home!


Kids are becoming more and more flexible each day when they reach across the table for school supplies or to pass a note to a friend—when they practice gymnastics, stretching, or yoga. Flexibility will help get blood and oxygen flowing in your body and help prevent injuries.  

How can I integrate movement in my child’s day?

 With summer winding down and school days upon us, the hours we have each day to let our children run and play diminish. My kiddos like to zone out in the morning or after school in front of tablets or tv as much as the next kid, but I try to get their bodies moving. My household of little men is constantly buzzing with activity. 

In the mornings, we’re a bit slower so just taking the time to stretch when getting dressed or using muscles to pour milk are great ways to get the body moving. One of my personal favorite ways to get my boys lookin’ alive for the day is a morning dance party in the kitchen. Turn on some Pandora and jam out. In the sweet fall weather, walking or riding bikes to school is a great option to awaken the body before school!    

Playground Movement

Thankfully during the school day there is Physical Education and recess. Our homeschooling friends frequently engage in activities with lots of movement.  But it’s important that after school and before bedtime, there are opportunities for movement and exercise. Some children will participate in sports several days a week. Have your kids create an obstacle course around the yard or house and time them as they complete the activities. Go adventure to new spots around town. Take nature scavenger hunts.  Cosmic Yoga on YouTube is a new resource our family has discovered. There are shorter episodes and longer themed episodes for free that really engage kids and get them interacting while doing yoga poses and moves.    

At the end of the day, our little ones will fall asleep easier if they’ve had some exercise or movement during the day. Adding little opportunities here and there don’t take much time or effort, but have big payoffs. 

Hope to see you at a neighborhood playground soon! 

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Ellen Kehs was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois where she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Mason. Together they’ve traveled the world, most recently touching down in Omaha in June 2019. She’s a mom to three little boys, Theodore (nine), Woodrow (seven), and Maximus (four). Life is never boring with her boys! Ellen loves being a military spouse and she embodies the “bloom where you are planted” mentality. In addition to soaking up whatever current city she’s living in, she is passionate about reading and getting books in the hands of children, as well as helping other mamas connect with each other. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education, a master’s degree in adolescent literacy and technology, and she teaches 6th-12th grade English online full-time, but is primarily a stay-at-home mom. Her hobbies include, exploring, reading, swimming, napping, snapping pictures, playing games, baking, and loving on the little men in her life.