Give your kids a mental break, especially if they didn't have an opportunity to let loose during gym class or recess. "It doesn't have to be hours," Dr. Lippitt says. "But 20 or 30 minutes of an 8-year-old throwing a ball back and forth outside will certainly help unwind their brain and unwind their body before they hit the books."
Don't discount the chemical influences a little heavy breathing can add. Sarah finds that the endorphins that kick into your brain during exercise are really helpful for clear thinking, stress relieving and helping your children explain how they're feeling. Sarah says she finds it amazing how quickly the lines of communication open once you simply take them outside to play a game of tag.
She encourages families to exercise together—and even to race. If your children aren't competitive, try walking and running in unison with them in 30-second intervals. The bottom line, though, is to find something they really enjoy, Sarah says. Be it basketball, swimming or even hula hooping, "If they find something they like, it'll stay with them—hopefully for life," she says.