Thursday, October 25, 2007

Our Shapely Nation

The '2006 Shape of the Nation’ report found that although the number of children considered overweight/obese is continually rising, most states are failing to provide students with adequate physical education opportunities.

P.E. is not the only thing that is needed to change this problem, but it can help!! It promotes fitness levels, develops fine motor skills, and instills knowledge of rules, strategies, fair play, & working as a team or independently. Physical exercise also works the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains in the brain.

No one factor can be blamed entirely for this decline, however, NCLB has unintentionally restricted schools from having the time and resources to allow for physical education (& many other things). Schools spend more attention (and funding) to areas were they are evaluated… & not by choice of the teachers! A national study by the Center of Public Education published in 2006 on the implementation of NCLB law found that 71% of the districts surveyed cited ‘cutting back’ instruction time for a subject to make more room for reading and math. Of the four subjects that the districts most frequently cited as having been cut - physical education, social studies, science, and the arts.

These cuts are not new news to me. I saw this at my first school in every one of those subjects & more. My students met with our P.E. coach for 30 minutes on a weekly or biweekly basis (depending on the budget for the year.) We had recess once a week (in first grade!!!). I was lucky enough to have attended Eric Jensen’s week-long Teaching with the Brain in Mind workshop. Among the things I be most successful in teaching you must understand and apply research about how the brain learns. “Ironically it may be just that half-hour of recess or ten minutes of running laps that helps boost test scores more than anything else,” says Eric Jensen of brain research and physical activity. I quickly saw a difference in my students when I taught 'with the brain in mind.'

The whole point of this need physical activity. Not twice a month or even twice a week… but everyday!!!! It honestly makes a difference to academic, social, & emotional well-being!!


Remind them of their responsibility to educate our future generations.


Cold Spaghetti said...

One of the main things we're keeping in mind as we look into pre-K and K classes is the importance of play. Many pre-K programs are just watered down Kindergarten -- and preschoolers are just not ready for it. The Head Start programs here are particularly intense... kids in uniforms, writing letters, completing worksheets... just not developmental appropriate. Will, in particular, is such a physical kid that I feel this is critically important for him. I've heard of kids who are basically burnt out and "over it" by 1st grade... this could definitely be him if he doesn't have big spans of time to just play during these formative years. Actually, knowing Will and his genes, he may need copious amounts of play in his day for the rest of his life. :-)

Emily said...

Burning out by the end of first grade?!? THAT IS AN OUTRAGE!!!! But you are very right...there are many daycares, preschools, kindergartens, etc that are just that... developmentally inappropriate.

Worksheets are never a good thing (that goes for any grade, but especially pre-k)!!! That kind of rote learning should only be used as homework for reinforcement of classwork...if at all. That's clear evidence of 'the old' way of teaching and you should steer very clear of it!

Pre-K students learn through their play... they should be actively involved in cooperative activities. Blocks, pretend/imagination, rhymes, books, chants, singing, & games focusing on the basics (listening, following directions, letter names, letter sounds, blending, numbers).

A kid will trace 5 pages of a letter without really absorbing anything....
BUT you have that kid build the letter out of play-doh, make the letter in a sandbox, or shaving cream (the tactile texture of these engage the brain in a way that using a pencil does not). They can come up with lists of words that they already know with that sound or letter (This really is a kid favorite!!! They claim ownership over their contribution & love to see these lists posted all over the walls..)

There are a million different ways it could be approached....but I guarantee that the child will better recognize that letter following a couple activities rather than boring worksheets.

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