The Importance of Daily Recess When Schools Return From COVID-19 Lockdowns

Over the past few months, parents have been faced with the seemingly impossible tasks of sheltering in place, working from home or at essential jobs, and homeschooling their children; all while managing the emotional, logistical, and financial challenges that have come with the recent global pandemic. As we look forward to the fall, schools are developing plans for how to resume public education while adhering to best practice recommendations from public health officials. Although recess is often elementary students’ favorite time of the school day, currently, there is limited discussion about recess in school re-opening. Recess is more than just fun and games; it is through play that children grow and the unstructured recess space is an important site for students to reconnect with their peers after months of isolation. Rather than cancelling recess or closing playgrounds,[1] at this critical time, recess should be prioritized in school re-opening plans.

Providing children with regular opportunities to play, socialize, rest, and re-energize through recess is imperative. High quality recess breaks improve mood, well-being, school engagement, behavior, learning, focus, attendance, and overall school climate. The time for social and emotional healing and growth is essential in this unprecedented time. Data show that children’s physical and psychological health are negatively impacted during quarantine[2], and that trauma symptoms increase for those in quarantine[3]. When children experience stress and trauma, it is difficult for them to access the portions of the brain that support thinking and reasoning,[4] thus recess and outdoor break times should be integral to any strategy aimed at providing a safe and supportive learning environment.

In considering a return to school, recess is the ideal space to promote health and healing. It is a time period that is intentionally unstructured, attends to students’ social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, and often takes place outdoors. Current data show[5] that transmission of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is much less likely to happen in outdoor environments; and that outdoor recreation can facilitate social distancing efforts relative to time spent in indoor environments.[6]

Parents can play a key role in addressing the importance of recess as children return to school buildings. As many school districts and state education boards are seeking input from parent stakeholders, we encourage parents and local PTA’s to advocate for children’s right to play[7] and to ensure recess is available to every child, every day that they are physically at school. To help equip parents, educators, and policymakers on the both the importance of recess, and strategies to keep recess safe during (and beyond) the pandemic, The Global Recess Alliance – a group of international researchers, educators, and health professionals – has created list of suggested adaptations for recess based on the best available research evidence[8]. Among the recommendations are to:

  • Offer recess daily for children when they are physically present at school, outdoors if possible;
  • Count recess as instructional time;
  • Advise recess staff so they are prepared to support students who may be more energetic, aggressive, or withdrawn; or have less capacity to self-regulate, resolve their own conflicts, and figure out how to play together;
  • Maintain disinfecting practices for equipment and do not allow students to bring equipment from home;
  • Add handwashing stations and model their use;
  • Limit the number of children at recess at one time and create different play areas for activities to further reduce their interactions;
  • Avoid structured or sedentary activities—like watching movies or activity break videos that do not provide students free choice and peer interactions—which are not substitutes for recess; and
  • Given the many physical, social and emotional benefits of recess, do not withhold recess as punishment for any reason (e.g. as a consequence for missed schoolwork or misbehavior).

Parents and PTAs can utilize this available evidence to help schools develop plans to create safe and healthy play opportunities for child in both the near, and long-term future.


William Massey, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. His line of research focused on the intersection of play, physical activity, and child development.

Rebecca London is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on understanding the challenges faced by disadvantaged children and youth and the ways that communities and community organizations support young people to be healthy and successful.

[1] U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Considerations for schools.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

[2] Sprang G, Silman M. Posttraumatic stress disorder in parents and youth after health-related disasters. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2013;7:105–110

[3] Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet. 2020;395(10227):912‐920. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8

[4] Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2015). School readiness and self-regulation: A developmental psychobiological approach. Annual Review of Psychology, 66(1), 711–731.

[5] Qian H, Miao T, LIU L, Zheng X, Luo D, Li Y. Indoor transmission of SARS-CoV-2. medRxiv. 2020;(17202719):2020.04.04.20053058. doi:10.1101/2020.04.04.20053058

[6] Venter ZS, Barton DN, Gundersen V, Figari H. Urban nature in a time of crisis : recreational use of green space increases during the COVID-19 outbreak in Oslo , Norway

[7] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” IPAworld, May 1, 2012, http://ipaworld.org/childs-right-to-play/uncrc-article-31/un-convention-on-the-rights-of-the-child-1/.

[8] Global Recess Alliance. School Reopening? Make Sure Children Have Daily Time for Recess. 7 May 2020. https://globalrecessalliance.org/.

Managing Your Child’s (and Your Own) Hidden Emotions During COVID-19

Mom talking to emotional teenage daughter

As a primary caregiver for a child, have you had COVID-19 moments when your anxiety got to an uncomfortable level? Have you feared for a child who you knew was not best served by the lack of variety, social freedom and the structure of school, sports or work?

I have.

Whether during a sleepless night or a quiet moment in my easy chair, I have found it is all too easy to let the reptilian brain imagine unhappy scenarios for my family that I cannot fix.

You see, I, like many of you, am the fixer. A staff member gave me a Brian Andreas poster that says, “He carried a ladder almost everywhere he went and after awhile people left all the high places to him.”

When you are a problem-solver, it can become a high expectation for yourself that the buck always stops here. With me. Eventually.

Of course, I don’t stay there. But as parents, we struggle even if we don’t let it show.

My best way out of my own emotional work is to study and understand what is happening so I have a plan. Intuitively, I may know what to do, but listening to professionals can be a great reassurance.

So, what are they saying?

Here is how to take care of our kids. (I am putting this first even though I know, like the metaphorical flight attendant, I should be telling you to put your mask on first. We will get to that.)

Child Trends tells us we have three primary Rs to undertake with our kids. Reassurance, Routines and Regulation. Our kids can read us better than we can read ourselves. They need reassurances that we believe ourselves.

As parents we need to be guardians of the truth repelling false narratives. They need to understand in our words, in age-appropriate context, what is happening in the world and that adults are doing all they can to manage it.

Next, they need routines. Predictability is a great reducer of anxiety and the structure can reduce depression. Through routines the family can bond together against an external challenge. We are in this together.

The whole family needs regulation. No binging on coffee or cokes. No counting on sugar rushes to improve mood if that was your thing. Good sleep schedules. Moderation in TV, devices and togetherness. Watch your introverts and don’t force them together too much and your extraverts that they are not dying for more connection.

Is there a parent who doesn’t feel guilty that device usage is spiking? It is a concern for normal times and sure, now too. But the best day my teenagers had was when they and a group of friends overdosed on Fortnight on two computers. The laughter and screams were something I could not create for them. The access to devices and a shared platform created the kind of connection only peers can provide. Monitor for safety but recognize that devices can create emotional lifelines.

How will you know if your child is OK? The National Association for School Psychologist recommends watching for significant behavioral changes. That might look like clinging in preschoolers to agitation and sleep disruption in teenagers. I ask my kids every morning, “How did you sleep?” They probably see it as a greeting, but it is a real check-in.

During the crisis, not all  children in our homes may need professional mental health support, but every child needs what Child Trends calls a “sensitive and responsive caregiver.” The deeper the wounds your child may carry, the more skilled they are at catching a “poser” versus someone who authentically cares and is there for them. Having that presence creates an anchor that tethers each child to an emotional shore.

Erika’s Lighthouse recommends three simple communications everyone can say. I notice. I care. How can I help? I notice you seem down today. I am sorry. Is there anything I can do to help? And then they give this advice that everyone would benefit from: Be quiet and listen. Yes, validate their feelings. But don’t problem solve immediately. And for sure, don’t try to tell them they should not feel that way. It might hurt that you cannot solve their problem. It might feel like they made choices that you want to criticize. If you continue down that road they will not want to communicate. None of us would.

Remember that like all of us adults, individualized responses are key. None of our children will respond to the same methods of care.

Let’s return to the idea of our children needing to feel tethered to a caring adult. That only works if you are a source of strength for them.

How do we manage our often-hidden emotions?

A longtime life coach used to say it this way. “Observe your emotions like a leaf floating on a river. But don’t make an altar to your feelings.” I love that advice, because stuffing our feelings never works, acknowledging them does. But building a case in our minds to justify our feelings to ourselves and others is self-defeating.

Our feelings come from lots of places but often from the way we think.

It is difficult to manage your information diet without a plan. Dr. Earl Turner reminds us that anxiety is a fear of the unknown. He says we can reduce anxiety by being informed and knowledgeable, but that overdosing on our COVID-19 consumption can elevate our anxiety. Know when to stop. My husband in the middle of the news stood up and said, “I am going for a walk.” Good self-regulation.

If we don’t want to be suffering internally, there are two time-worn tricks that are hard as hell, acceptance and staying in the moment. Suffering germinates from our insistence that things should and must be different. Acceptance of what we cannot control is the antidote to bargaining with reality. We need to use every trick in the book to stay in the present. The future brings anxiety and the past only offers regrets and nostalgia.

Today, use all your senses to experience the physical world as it is this moment. Harness your mind to deal with today’s challenges for which we all are provided enough grace. The universe seems to dish out grace only as we actually need it—not for future imagined possibilities.

Breathe. Walk. Play with your animals. Serve others. Journal. Pray. Patiently take one day at a time.

No one said it would be easy, but as a 70’s era gospel singer Evie sang, “Don’t run from reality. You have to face every day like it is.”

Nathan R. Monell, CAE is the executive director at National PTA and the proud dad of two adopted teenagers, Kira and Gonzalo.

Use Healthy Habits All Year Long!

Remind kids to continue using healthy habits during the spread of COVID-19

No matter the time of year, everyday preventative hygiene habits should be taught to children to help curb the spread of germs. Especially in our current public health climate, it’s more important than ever to teach healthy habits to your children. Lysol and National PTA endorse following the following six steps that are recommended by the CDC to help stop the spread of COVID-19:[1]

  • Wash Your Hands: The number one thing you should be doing is washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to wash between your fingers and underneath your nails as much as possible.
  • Cover Your Mouth: Make sure that you are covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throwing it directly in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, use the crook of your elbow and not your bare hand so you don’t spread the germs when you touch something.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face: Be conscious of touching your eyes, nose and mouth as it is an easy way to transfer germs to yourself.
  • Disinfect Frequently Touches Surfaces: Make it a habit to disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs and light switches, on a daily basis to help curb the spread of germs.
  • Practice Social Distancing: Put distance between yourself and others whether or not COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting sick.
  • Stay Home When You Are Sick: Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.

To learn more about healthy habits for children, please visit lysol.com/healthy-classroom/. For more information about COVID-19, please visit CDC.gov.

[1] CDC.gov. “How to Protect Yourself

Advocacy Spotlight: Gun Violence Prevention

Gun violence is such an overwhelming issue in our nation, it can be paralyzing to think about. How can you as one parent, or even as one PTA unit, make a difference? Thankfully, there are PTAs who have been paving the way, and we had the chance to talk with three representatives from Mercer Island PTA, Lori Cohen-Sanford, Erin Gurney, and Gwen Loosmore.

Mercer Island PTA has been advocating for gun violence prevention since 2018. They shared with us their lessons learned and advice for like-minded groups.

What do families need to know about gun violence and gun violence prevention?

Gun violence is the second leading cause of death for youth in our country. Over half of those gun deaths are suicides. Everyone has a role in gun violence prevention. If families do own guns, they need to make sure they are safely stored. Families need to feel comfortable asking if there are guns in the home, when their children go for a playdate– just like they would share about any allergies or ask about pets or swimming pool safety.

What strategies have you found most effective when advocating for gun violence prevention?

It’s crucial to know your platform. Familiarize yourself with National PTA’s position statement. Mercer Island PTA has made a habit of laminating them and bringing them everywhere!

Don’t forget that PTA is an advocacy association. We speak on behalf of all children ESPECIALLY on behalf of children’s safety. We have the authority as PTA members to advocate for these positions. It’s helpful to have or establish a state platform, as well. We have found that parents want to act, so it’s helpful to give them something to do – specific bills to support, newsletters to read, encouragement to ask about guns in the home at playdates, etc. We really say that we are doing the advocacy work one conversation at a time. It’s also important to remember that every parent wants the violence to stop. There is a lot of common ground and we need to normalize the conversation around firearms in our society.

What advice do you have for PTAs who want to make gun violence prevention a higher priority in their school, district or state?

Talking about gun violence can make a lot of people nervous because it’s become a political issue in our country and we don’t want our schools to become split by political divides. The challenge here is to remind people that PTA is an advocacy organization and we’re advocating for student safety. What we are trying to do is change the culture in how we talk about gun violence prevention. Even gun owners are supportive of a lot of these measures.

Find like-minded parents and get organized. Consider going to non-PTA gun violence prevention organizations, like the Brady Campaign or Moms Demand, to find other local parents who share your passion.

Overcommunicate. If your leadership is concerned keep them informed of everything you’re doing, before you do it, share why, and how it falls into National PTA’s mission. National PTA already has a position statement on gun violence, and a website on family resources for school safety and questions you can start with that you KNOW falls within what PTA has authorized – start there!

Every community, every PTA, every individual has a specific set of experiences and what works for Mercer Island PTA might not everywhere. However, what is absolutely universal is people need to feel empowered and they need to know that they have the power to create change if they bring themselves together around this issue.

Curious how you can talk to your kids about these issues? Tune in to our podcast, Notes from the Backpack, to hear Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez share tips on talking to your children about gun violence in developmentally appropriate ways!

 

6 Things Parents Need to Know About E-Cigarettes

Many parents have high school memories of classmates sneaking cigarettes and of the Marlboro man, Joe Camel, and Virginia Slims ad campaigns that made cigarettes seem ubiquitous and cool. Over time, public health education campaigns and effective public health policies have driven smoking rates to record lows, and made smoking more like the exception than the rule. But now there is a new threat to our kids’ health in the form of e-cigarettes –nicotine-loaded products about which many parents have little knowledge, and to which tweens and teens have flocked as a result of appealing flavors, deceptive marketing, and plenty of exposure. We want to help you change this narrative! Here are 6 things parents need to know about e-cigarettes.

1.) It’s not just an “other kids” issue

We know this is hard news to hear, but it is highly likely that e-cigarettes are in high use at your kid’s school. Nationally, over in four high school students and one in ten middle schoolers use e-cigarettes. That’s 5.3 million teens altogether, which means that even if your child is not using e-cigarettes, they almost certainly have friends who are. Rates of youth e-cigarette use more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, to the point that the U.S. Surgeon General declared the problem an “epidemic.”

2.) E-cigarettes come in deceptive forms

One reason many parents are unaware of the widespread use of e-cigarettes is because they don’t look like regular cigarettes. Many of these products look like pens or flash drives, and they can be disguised as watches or tucked into the sleeve of a hoodie.

3.) The tobacco industry is actively targeting kids

If you’re wondering why so many middle and high school students use e-cigarettes, kid-friendly flavors and marketing play a big role. E-cigarettes are sold in a huge variety of appealing flavors, from gummy bear and banana ice to mango and mint. Studies have found that most youth e-cigarette users use flavored products and say they use these products “because they come in flavors I like.”

4.) E-cigarettes are highly addictive

Another reason why there’s a rise in e-cigarette usage is because e-cigarettes are formulated to be highly addictive. The over 15,000 kid-friendly flavors hide the fact that e-cigarettes can deliver massive doses of nicotine, a highly addictive drug. For example, a single pod (cartridge) of the popular Juul brand delivers as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Even now, as Juul stopped selling some flavors, newer disposable brands, like Puff Bar and Mojo, continue to lure kids with dozens of flavors and look just like JUUL with even higher doses of nicotine. Kids are also using refillable devices like Smok and Suorin, which they can fill with nicotine liquids in a variety of flavors and nicotine strengths.

5.) Any positioning of e-cigarettes as a positive thing is just wrong

You may see positive messaging about e-cigarettes, and it’s just wrong. A 2016 Surgeon General’s report concluded that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, causes addiction and can harm adolescent brain development, which impacts attention, memory and learning. E-cigarettes can also expose users to harmful and carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and lead. And studies have found that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers.

6.) You have power!

It’s really important to remember that you have power in this situation! Educate yourself on these products and leverage your voice to help end this epidemic. A growing number of states and cities have passed laws banning flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill to do the same, called the “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act,” but the Senate has yet to act. So contact your elected officials at all levels and urge them to take action to protect kids.

We realize that it can be scary to wrap your head around another worry in relation to your kids. But you have taken a big first step here by learning what the products look like and learning the risks. And what about next steps? We recommend talking to your kids about the health risks of e-cigarettes and creating an open dialogue with them and calling your elected officials.


Jessica Cohen Senior Director of Strategic Communications Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jessica leads Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Protect Kids: Fight Flavored e-Cigarettes campaign to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic and spare a generation from the grip of addiction to nicotine. https://fightflavoredecigs.org/resources-for-parents/

How Life360 Crash Detection Helped Save Our Boys

On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, my two sons, ages 16 and 13, were driving on the freeway and collided with another car. The car veered off the road, down an embankment, hit a tree and flipped over.

Every parent’s nightmare.

I’m a therapist and never look at my phone during a patient session, but it kept buzzing. I knew something was wrong as soon as my receptionist knocked on my door.

Fortunately, we have a Life360 membership with Crash Detection. The sensors had detected a collision and immediately, a Life360 representative contacted both my wife and me. Even though I couldn’t be reached right away, they’d already dispatched emergency services.

I immediately left the office and my wife and I used Life360 to direct us to the exact scene of the accident. When we arrived, the police and ambulance were already there – and thankfully, the boys didn’t have a single scratch on them. We feel very, very blessed.

It was a day that could have gone much differently, but thanks to Life360 Crash Detection and first responders, it didn’t.

We have four kids, which you can imagine gets pretty hectic. From helping keep my family coordinated on a daily basis to knowing that my kids are safe (and vice versa), Life360 has truly changed our lives

 


 

Ryan Darrow is a Life360 member, husband, and father of four. Here, he shares how Life360 Crash Detection helped protect his teen sons as driver and passenger when every second counted. Crash Detection is available for free at http://bit.ly/394eDtu

National PTA Gives Federal Policy Update

Last night, March 25, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion dollar COVID-19 #3 relief package. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote and pass the bill Friday, March 27, and then it will go to the President for his signature, which he has indicated he will sign.

In related news, U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue will participate in the President’s Coronavirus Task Force’s daily briefing to discuss online learning and school meals. There is no set time for the daily briefing. Most 24-7 news networks carry the briefing live.

What’s in Congress’ C-3 package?

Overall, education received $30.9 billion in aid to provide short term relief for students and schools impacted by the coronavirus.

The bill created an Education Stabilization Fund that provides flexible funding to get out the door quickly and go directly to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to coronavirus.

The fund provides:

  • $13.5 billion in formula funding directly to states, to help elementary and secondary (K-12) schools respond to coronavirus and related school closures, meet the immediate needs of students and teachers, improve the use of education technology, support distance education, and make up for lost learning time.
  • $14.25 billion in funding to institutions of higher education to directly support students facing urgent needs related to coronavirus, and to support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of coronavirus and school closures. This provides targeted formula funding to institutions of higher education, as well as funding for minority serving institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  • $3 billion in flexible state funding to be allocated by formula based on the needs of their elementary and secondary schools and their institutions of higher education.

There is also $100 million in targeted funding for Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) which provides resources to help elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education recover from a traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted.

The legislation also includes almost $25 billion for food assistance programs, including nearly $16 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and nearly $9 billion for child nutrition. These resources are in addition to what was included in The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The relief package also provides small business loans to non-profits, with under 500 employees, however the bill did not provide $25 billion in emergency aid for associations that face major financial loss due to event cancellations as a result of COVID-19. The National Council of Nonprofits has an initial analysis on What’s In the Bill Nonprofits? and ASAE: The Center for Association Nonprofits, of which National PTA is a member, has a one-pager on provisions in the bill relevant to associations and nonprofit groups. Additionally, National PTA has sent the following letters to Speaker Pelosi  and Congress  urging them to provide relief to non-profits who are hurting alongside business as result of this public health emergency.

Unfortunately, the bill does not include dedicated funding for remote and distance learning which National PTA strongly advocated for . Our association, along with many others, asked Congress to provide $2 billion to schools and libraries for Wi-Fi hotspots, connected devices and mobile broadband Internet service to ensure all students could continue their education online for the duration of this national emergency. National PTA will continue its advocacy efforts in this area to address this digital divide.

What is National PTA doing next?

National PTA is focused on ensuring that the needs of students, families and schools are adequately addressed during this global pandemic. Our association is committed to:

  • Ensuring that schools and students have the resources they need to be connected and continue their learning online.
  • Supporting students with disabilities in online learning as well as ensure they receive the services and supports they need under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). We also recognize that they may need to be temporary and targeted flexibilities for states and school districts provided within IDEA, however any flexibilities MUST protect student rights and ensure their access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • Securing immediate and long-term investments in family engagement. As homes have become the classroom and parents have become surrogate teachers, responsible for their children’s learning, it is essential that families are provided educational support as they rise to this unprecedented occasion.
  • Making sure students have access to school meal benefits during school closures related to COVID-19.

Our Government Affairs team is already preparing plans to take action on a likely COVID-19 #4 legislative package. The COVID-19 #3 bill is as a short-term relief package. There will be continued needs for students, schools and families related to this public health emergency. National PTA will continue to engage with PTAs and members to understand the local needs and work with policymakers to make sure the federal government responses to those needs.

For more on PTA’s advocacy and policy actions related to COVID-19, please visit www.PTA.org/COVID-19 and click on “PTA Advocacy.”

 

Customize Health for Your Community! With a Healthy Hydration Event

SPOTLIGHT: Apples PTA (Stamford, Connecticut)

This blog post is part of a series authored by local PTA leaders who received a Healthy Hydration Grant, sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America. They share practical advice and lessons learned from planning and hosting their events.

The Healthy Hydration Program is a great way to promote drinking water and infused water to students and families. The program can be coupled with so many different types of events such as a Healthy Lifestyles Night or a Field Day. Since we at APPLES PTA serve a preschool, our students are three and four-years old, so it was important that we made the event as fun and engaging as we could.

Our kids loved testing the infused water! I think they really enjoyed the novelty of the little cups and pouring out of the large five-gallon infused waters. The fan favorite was Strawberry-Basil (I was surprised since basil is a strong taste).

With the help of our school’s administration, we got the word out for the Healthy Lifestyles Night via a flyer that was sent around to families by print in the student backpacks and electronically through the teacher distribution lists. Our principal was super supportive, as usual. We have a Facebook group where we posted an announcement of the night and reminders as we got closer to the date. We also sent out emails to our PTA Membership distribution list to announce the event and send reminders.

In marketing the event, I would recommend starting two weeks prior. Two weeks gives enough notice while still staying in the forefront for families because, let’s be honest, families are all running around just trying to keep up most of the time. If you do it too early, it can become background noise and compete for families’ attention against other PTA happenings you may have going on.

The biggest obstacle for us was finding volunteers. Our school administration saved the day and got the teachers heavily involved in staying for the event and running stations. We couldn’t have done it without their help!

Now for the event! We wanted to highlight the physical, nutritional and hydration parts of a Healthy Lifestyle. In order to best manage the crowd, we split them up into three groups and held the event in three rooms that rotated. We had a cooler in each room with bottled water for anyone to take from.

In one room, we had kid Zumba with a table that had fruit and veggies in the shape of a rainbow with the sign “Eat the Rainbow”. In another room, we had a fun and engaging nutrition workshop where the kids were taught about what should be on their plate. Last but not least, we had a hydration room! This room featured the Sugary Beverage Station and Infused Water Station. We also added a ring toss with bottled waters where the kids could win a variety of healthy prizes.

As a thank you gift for families that attended, we passed out gift bags that included an infuser for water, a bottle of water, and a day pass to a local children’s museum. We also raffled off play balls and little soccer balls to the kids on their way out. All this spring boarded from the Healthy Hydration Program! My advice: You can make it as big or small as works best for your school.

Take Action:


Authored by Valentina Conetta from APPLES PTA in Stamford, Conn.

Disclosure: Nestlé Waters North America is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA and a Founding Sponsor of National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Initiative. The local PTA spotlighted in this blog was a winner of a 2019–2020 Healthy Hydration Grant, sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America. The author was not compensated for this blog post and the author’s opinions are their own.

 

 

Fun for the Whole Family! At a Healthy Hydration Event

SPOTLIGHT: Dufief Elementary PTSA (North Potomac, Md.)

This blog post is part of a series authored by local PTA leaders who received a Healthy Hydration Grant, sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America. They share practical advice and lessons learned from planning and hosting their events.

Incorporating a Healthy Hydration Event into our PTA calendar was so easy! We hosted a Bike Rodeo and simply added the Healthy Hydration Stations at our event. Our school is in the middle of a very suburban walkable and bikeable neighborhood.

Although there are many students who ride their bikes casually, we wanted to provide a forum to spread safety tips about biking safely on neighborhood streets including how to be seen and following the rules of the road when biking on the street. We partnered with Montgomery County Safe Routes to School, who provided several loaner bikes and helmets for the event so the students without their own bikes and helmets could still attend, participate and enjoy the event.

To market our event to both students and parents we used our PTA newsletters, made announcements at our PTA meetings, posted on our website and to our PTA Facebook page. To reach students outside of our PTA members, we made morning announcements at the school and sent home backpack fliers.

We set up our welcome table, along with the Healthy Hydration Sugary Beverage Station, outside the entrances to our all-purpose room and gymnasium. We were a little nervous about attendance since the Rodeo took place during a short week before the Thanksgiving holiday. However, we had so many parents and students show up, that we had to extend the event to the blacktop outside the school, in addition to using the school gymnasium! Next time, we’d love to plan this event at a time of year when we could utilize outdoor space.

Our principal, Mr. Gregg Baron, was incredibly supportive. In addition to including the event in the school morning announcements and his weekly newsletter, he also attended the event, put on a helmet, and jumped on a bike, leading some of the students in the activities. His engagement and enthusiasm were infectious. He really made both students and parents feel welcome and excited to be at the event.

We would definitely consider having a Healthy Hydration event as part of our Back-to-School picnic, spring outdoor Dragon Fest, or other large activities in the future. We had a lot of positive feedback about the fruit-infused water from both parents and students. They were surprised that the only thing added to the water was fruit! In addition to the stations, we plan to incorporate and serve water at all our upcoming events in a more intentional way including our Math Night, Talent Show evening and family Game Night.

We had many parents and students express surprise at how much sugar was in common beverages. Adults were extremely enthusiastic about the fruit-infused water, and several took the recipes home with them. The hands-down favorite was the Lemon/Lime water.

Here are our top recommendations when hosting your Healthy Hydration event, from one PTA leader to another!

  1. Make sure that you leave ample time and space in your event for students and parents to visit the Hydration Station.
  2. Make sure to encourage parents to try the fruit-infused waters as well. We found parents were often the most interested in trying the different types of waters initially, which led to more children wanting to try the recipes.
  3. Consider encouraging parents and students to bring water bottles to the event to fill up on any leftover flavored water after the event!
  4. Think carefully about how to manage sign-ins, photo releases and follow-up surveys. We found it challenging to manage this aspect when so many attendees were eager to participate in activities right away.

Take Action:


Authored by Jamie Pflasterer from Dufief Elementary PTSA in North Potomac, Md.

Disclosure: Nestlé Waters North America is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA and a Founding Sponsor of National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Initiative. The local PTA spotlighted in this blog was a winner of a 20192020 Healthy Hydration Grant, sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America. The author was not compensated for this blog post and the author’s opinions are their own.

 

8 Easy Steps for an Awesome Field Day!

Winter is winding down, which can only mean one thing—Spring is right around the corner! You may be looking ahead to a 5th grade graduation, or even thinking of that upcoming summer vacation, but wait! Don’t let Field Day catch you by surprise this year.

At Booster Spirit Wear, we work with thousands of schools across the country every day and hear all of the best insider tips and tricks to pulling off the biggest events of the school year. Below we have complied everything we know about Field Day and built out 8 easy steps to help you be the hero for your school and students this year.

Build Your Committee and Choose a Date

Let the planning begin! First and foremost, you should pick a Field Day date that works best for your school. Consider things like your location, where you’re located, and public holidays. Once you have this set, everyone has something to look forward to!

Now it’s time to build your team. There are countless positions you may decide are important to nominate, but to name a few we suggest having a Day of Games Chair, someone over Teacher Communications, and a Sponsorship Chair. Want to keep all this info in one place? Check out this customizable Field Day Experience Toolkit to help your organize your committee and more!

Establish Sponsorship levels and begin reaching out

Sponsorship is one of the very best ways to make your Field Day a success not only your school, but for the community as a whole. Committing to the Field Day sponsorship process isn’t as daunting as some may think. In fact, we’ve provided you some simple steps below and resources to help make this an easy and rewarding process for your school here. First step? Create your sponsorship levels. These are the tiers in which businesses can commit to give. It will allow community sponsors of any level get involved with a local school they’d love to support. We’ve included suggested Sponsorship Tiers in our guide.

Order Your Field Day Merch

We believe one of the best ways to take your Field Day to the next level is to create custom merchandise for your school or even by grade. Field Day t-shirts provide an excellent place to sport sponsor logos, and your students will love having team tees, custom water bottles or shades as a memento from the day. Click here for a custom quote in seconds for all your Field Day needs!

Make Your Supplies Budget

So, planning is underway. Sponsors are beginning to deliver their support. The students and teachers getting excited. But what do you actually need? It’s time to make your supplies budget. Your committee should come together to determine everything you will need, from coolers to cones and everything in between! Find a customizable supplies budget table for your to use in our Field Day Experience Toolkit.

Recruit Parent and Teacher Volunteers

It’s likely that your committee has already been in touch with your schools PTO, but it’s a great time to begin recruiting day of volunteers for set-up, tear-down, hydration stations, and of course game masters!

Plan out the Big Day!

You’ve likely already determined your day of activities, but it’s important to make sure you have a solidified schedule to share with volunteers and teachers. Things to remember include: what will lunch look like? Is dismissal changing any? And don’t forget a rainy-day backup plan!

Set Up Field Day and Orient Your Volunteers

Weather permitting, we suggest setting up as much as possible for your Field Day activities before the day of. This is when your committed volunteers really get to show their colors! Water stations, cone stacked obstacle courses, and signage can be set up so the morning of.

You may choose to meet with your volunteers before set-up. A few things you’ll want to make sure to do when meeting with your team include: thanking them in advance! Establishing a way to communicate throughout the day. Establish clarity of roles and emergency procedures. And make sure everyone knows where to get water. We are definitely team: No one passes out!!!

Once set-up and orientation are complete, you get to take a deep breath. You’re almost there!

Have the Best Field Day Ever!!

We can’t tell you this is the easiest step, but it is by far the most exciting step! All your hard work is paying off in the form of giggles and squeals as your students seriously have the best day of the year.

We hope this post has given you an outline of how to approach and plan the best Field Day ever with less stress and more fun! If you would like an even more detailed how-to checklist with a Three Month to day-of countdown, we’ve got you cover here.