Adrien McDonald

Working it Out: Staying Active While At Home

Director of Athletics, Adrien McDonald, gives a pep talk to students.

In this time of distance learning, we have all had to get creative and that goes for McLean School’s Athletic Department, too. Just because we’re staying home doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stay active! Our Physical Education Department has been crafting weekly activity schedules for students in all three divisions of our Lower, Middle and Upper Schools, as well as making sure our student athletes are getting the support they need to stay in shape, creating fun physical challenges for the whole McLean community, and working with teachers on ways to incorporate movement into their academic lessons.  

Below are some tips to help you get going (even when you’re not going anywhere!):

Make It A Family Affair

How about some friendly competitions for who can do a wall sit or plank the longest? Or a running tally of how many burpees each family member can do in a week? Winner gets to pick the next movie! When the whole family makes moving a priority, it’s a lot easier.

Stick To A Schedule

While the schedules our PE department are creating for our students are quite in depth, parents can easily craft their own, simpler schedule. Think: neighborhood walks on Mondays, 15 minutes of tag on Tuesdays, YouTube ab videos on Wednesdays, etc. 

Reflect And Regroup

Whether in PE class or on a sports team, your children are used to a certain level of activity so it is important to make sure they have  a physical outlet while at home for this extended period of time. Equally important is providing an opportunity for them to reflect on their activities: what’s hard, what’s easy, what’s enjoyable, what’s not. Getting them to buy in and be part of the plan will go a long way.

Take A Holistic Approach

Mental health and physical health go together. At McLean, there’s a reason we incorporate mindfulness into all that we do: it settles the system and primes it for learning and living. Before practice or a game, I always encourage our athletes to take a mindful minute to calm and focus the mind and body. Mindfulness is great for stress management and McLean students have the benefit of a variety of tools they can use during this stressful time – encourage your kids to use them!

Incorporate Physical Activity Into Learning

Try shooting a basket while spelling a word out loud. Do squats while working at a standing desk. Read a book on a stationary bike. Substitute a one pound weight for a fidget toy. At McLean, we understand the benefits of flexible seating and how movement can provide a valuable outlet for the brain and body. Learning from home doesn’t have to mean sitting at a desk!

Get A Change Of Scenery

Sometimes the best way to eliminate distraction and engage the mind is to change the environment. When possible, encourage your children to take a walk and listen to a book on tape, or listen (or re-listen) to notes they took on a voice recorder, or – even better – take a walk together and ask them to share something they’ve learned that day. Reviewing course content in this way is a great way of committing it to memory.

Support Their Efforts

Children and teens are likely to have their own ideas about what they want to do for physical activity and when. It’s important to allow them to have ownership over this aspect of their experience – not only is it empowering in the moment, but it’s a fundamental building block of self-advocacy. Remember: any safe physical activity is good activity!

Distance learning has required all of us to flex new muscles – literally and figuratively. If there’s anything we can do to support you and your family in getting physically active, we are here to help so don’t hesitate to ask! 

Adrien McDonald, Director of Athletics & PE