6 items an active child should have in their backpack

At this time of year, it’s easy for parents to get overwhelmed by all the tips and tricks for how to set up their children for success in the coming school year. What books should they be reading? What stationery do they need? What time should they go to sleep? The list goes on and on.

But one of the best things you can do to encourage your child’s academic success, reduce their stress, build their social skills and confidence is actually super simple – encourage regular exercise!

Sports teams and activities are part of the equation, but you really need to give kids the chance to be active throughout the school day in every way possible—playing at recess and lunch, walking or wheeling to and from school, making up their own fun and letting off steam. 

Your child’s backpack, if packed with all the right things, is the perfect opportunity for you to encourage more spontaneous, outdoor activity.

Check out this infographic for ParticipACTION’s six backpack must-haves:

STEP COUNTER

Let your kids log the total amount of steps they take in a day and make a game out of getting healthy. You might be surprised by how excited they get about reaching their step goal each day.

RUBBER BALL/CHALK/SKIPPING ROPE

63 percent of kids’ free time is spent being sedentary, so send kids to school with something to encourage spontaneous, active games with friends. Having a ball on hand can mean the difference between playing a game with friends rather than staring at a screen.

MOBILE PHONE

This one will inevitably generate some discussion as some schools don’t allow cell phones on campus whatsoever. But, many parents worry about the safety of their kids and a phone can help you stay in contact while your child walks, wheels or plays outside with friends. Don’t have a phone, or don’t want one? Send them out with a buddy or have them call when they get home. 

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JACKET

Weather is one barrier to active play, so make sure your child is ready for anything by packing a good jacket. I don’t know about you, but some of my favourite memories as a kid involved playing in the rain.  

SUN HAT AND SUNSCREEN

Kids need a sun hat and sunscreen in order to protect them from the rays. Make sure your children are prepared to take full advantage of the sun without having to worry about a nasty burn.

HELMET

Did you know that 58 per cent of parents say their kids are always driven to and from school? Active travelers get as much as 45 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Wheeling or walking to and from school will quickly add up to a healthier lifestyle. 

As a parent, I sometimes feel like I’m in possession of a beautiful secret—that physical activity will give my kids success and joy in every area of their lives, more than almost anything else I can give them. Active kids have better concentration. More fun. Better social skills. Less anxiety and depression. More confidence. What more could you want for your child this school year? Encourage them to be more active and everything else will follow.