Archive for January, 2011

Early Childhood Teaching Tip #1: Decreasing Inappropriate Behavior During Structured Physical Activity

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Children face an abundance of “firsts” when they attend preschool, including their first experience of structured activity time.  Enjoyment and success during activity is best achieved by remembering the saying, “The best defense is a good offense. Children need to learn the expectations for the structured activity class time.

For a sample lesson plan with expectations for structured activity, Click Here.

Even when children are aware of class expectations, the excitement of brightly colored equipment, inclusion of movement, and possibly being outdoors are distractions that can cause children to behave inappropriately. Decreasing inappropriate behavior is one of the goals of creating a positive learning environment.

For a list of strategies to help decrease inappropriate behavior, Click Here.

HOPE for the Future: Health Optimizing Physical Education

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

School physical education (PE) will flourish only when its programs are perceived as being of public importance. Currently many children enjoy it and parents often say it is important, but PE is far from prospering (McKenzie & Lounsbery, 2009). It has far too many objectives for the time and resources (teachers, space, equipment) allocated to it. Meanwhile, PE program objectives are not prioritized and schools are rarely held accountable for reaching them–except on occasion, physical fitness.

I think we need HOPE (Health Optimizing Physical Education)! HOPE focuses specifically on the public health goal of developing lifelong physical activity (rather than viewing it as an afterthought).

Reorienting traditional programs toward HOPE does not require that all standard objectives of physical education be abandoned, but it does call for them to be reprioritized. For students to accrue adequate amounts of current physical activity and be prepared for an active lifestyle in adulthood, I believe physical education needs to provide curricula and instruction that:

  1. provide ample opportunities for physical activity during class time
  2. are enjoyable
  3. teach generalizable movement skills
  4. teach generalizable behavioral skills
  5. teach how to be safe in active environments
  6. encourage present and future physical activity and fitness

Except for the notion of including generalizable behavioral skills, the above list does not contain new goals for physical education. Note, however, that several goals currently common to physical education are not listed, including the promotion of academic achievement, social development, and cultural awareness. While these three goals are indeed important educational aims, they are not the sole purview of physical education, but are the responsibility of all school curricular areas and programs. The main foci of physical education should target outcomes that other school programs avoid: physical activity promotion, physical skills, and physical fitness.

Implementing HOPE would require reallocating school resources and staff attention. The greatest public health benefit would result from programs that target students who are sedentary, instead of allocating resources to those already physically fit and active. During PE, less emphasis could be given to the motorically elite (i.e., athletes) who traditionally receive more opportunities during PE and have greater access to intramural and interscholastic programs.

-Thomas L. McKenzie, PhD

Professor Emeritus, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences San Diego State University San Diego

“It takes a village–to raise a child’s physical activity level.”  (T. McKenzie, 2010)

Integrating Nutrition into the School Day

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Energy balance is crucial to healthy living and while physical education classes can be found in most schools across the nation, nutrition education is being taught in only a small percentage of schools.  Why is this the case if healthy eating is so important?

Some reasons include a lack of standards and policies, lack of nutrition education curriculum, and time to teach this content with so many other responsibilities being placed on teachers today.  So what can you do to integrate nutrition into your day?  Here are some ideas to get you started! (For more in-depth information make sure to join our January webinar on this topic- Click Here)

  • Math- students can record their food and calorie intake into a food journal and calulate averages, servings sizes and portions
  • Art- create a colorful menu for a restaurant complete with healthy choices
  • Social Studies- teach students about different cultures by cooking traditional receipies in class
  • Language Arts- select books to read that talk about food and nutrition this can introduce them to foods they have never heard of before
  • Science- students can build a car out of fresh vegetables or do an experiment to learn about the properties of foods
  • Physical Education- have a relay where students have to build a balanced meal by running down and selecting one food item picture at a time

11 Tips to Help Decrease Inappropriate Behavior

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Is it true what they say about that “one bad apple in the bunch”? We all know there are many different kinds of apples in our classes, and while some may be a little sweeter than others, they all contribute to a healthy bushel. Here are eleven tips to help decrease inappropriate behavior and help keep your physical education class as sweet as possible:

  1. Engage children in activity as soon as possible by keeping instructions short and concise.
  2. Remember to “teach from the perimeter.” If indoors, keep your “back to the wall.” Move to visit all children without turning your back on any.
  3. Use a musical activity when children’s attention becomes low and there is a need for a quick distraction enhanced with music.
  4. Children covet individual attention. When a child is modeling desired behaviors, say the child’s name for all to hear when providing positive and specific feedback.
  5. Provide individual feedback when the class is engaged in activity rather than calling attention to the negative behavior for all to hear.
  6. Use proximity control. Move closer to the child.
  7. To ensure the safety of all, if a child is endangering others have the child stand next to you and observe others on task. When you see the child is ready to participate safely, get the child engaged as soon as possible.
  8. Minimize distractions.
  9. When outdoors, strive to keep the children’s backs to the sun.
  10. If another class is present, position your class to face a different way.
  11. When using manipulatives begin with exploration time for children to just play. Remember to have children place manipulatives on the floor when giving instructions.

NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 Funding Opportunity

Monday, January 10th, 2011

nfl-logo-play-60Fuel Up to Play 60 is a new organization aiming to help schools help themselves by getting kids to focus on a combination of physical activity and healthy nutrition choices on a daily basis. Is your school planning on or already participating in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program sponsored by the NFL? If so, they are offering a new grant program to help jump start your school’s individual program. Earn your team up to $3,000 in grant money to use on a customized Fuel Up to Play 60 program of your own design. With the playoffs in progress and Super Bowl in sight, our youth are invested in football more than ever. The NFL will allocate marketing to promote the new program to kids while they are watching their favorite players on TV or at the stadium. Then when the players visit their schools or hold community events, the kids will begin to understand the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

There are several unique aspects of this program that set it above the rest. Numerous attempts have been made in the past to improve our kids’ health and fitness but the obesity problems still remain. Something different must be done, and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is ready to take on the task. Here are several unique characteristics of the program:

  • For Youth, By Youth: Youth helped design, test, and implement the program. They have been involved in every aspect of the process, making it an authentic experience that all youth are willing to adopt at their own schools.
  • Comprehensive Approach: Too many programs focus solely on one aspect of youth health, either physical activity or nutrition. Fuel Up to Play 60 treats the two as one in the same, taking a holistic approach to solving our youth’s obesity dilemma.
  • Influential Partners: Our youth look up to the NFL and its players to set a good example for them. Fuel Up to Play 60 brings health to the attention of kids by capitalizing on those players’s influence. Throughout the season and leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL leaders will spread the message of the importance of proper nutrition and daily physical activity. To logistically help the NFL, the National Dairy Council will use their resources and relationship with the education system to supply proper nutrition information and materials.
  • Customized Programs: Fuel Up to Play 60 doesn’t have a set of required action that needs to be taken by each school. Instead, they have several principles and suggestions, but let the youth decide for themselves and make the program their own. Each school is given the autonomy to decide what is best for them and let the youth implement it how they see fit.
  • Broad Reach: Last year alone, the program reached over 60,000 schools and 36 million youth. With new funding opportunities, Fuel Up to Play 60 should be able to touch every youth in the United States in the next couple of years.

Funding Opportunities: All K-12 schools are eligible for the new funding opportunities. This can be a great resource for schools weakened by heavy budget cuts, but who still want to make big changes in their student’s lives. Every student deserves the same access to fitness and healthy food choices and the NFL, Dairy Farmers, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and private donors are all stepping up to the plate to help out financially. There are two different ways your school can earn funding for your Fuel Up to Play 60 team.

  1. The first is a competitive, nationwide grant available for schools enrolled in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. These funds can be used for numerous aspects in jump starting your team’s program.
  2. The Child Nutrition and Fitness Initiative Breakfast Grant program is a grant that will provide funds for increasing the nutritious value of meals available at school, specifically alternative breakfast options.

What are the funds for? The broad answer is to help reduce obesity by helping youth implement programs focusing on nutrition and physical activity. Specifically, the funds can be used for a wide variety of things. Each school must present a detailed budget of what your school’s team will spend the funds on, but there are numerous options for customization. The categories on the application include: promotional materials, giveaways to encourage participation, staff/professional involvement, foodservice materials and equipment, physical activities materials and equipment, nutrition educational materials, and other.

If you’ve been looking for funds to implement SPARK curriculum, training or equipment in your school this is the perfect opportunity! Or, if you already have SPARK in your school, you can use these funds to expand and extend your program(s)!

More Fuel Up to Play 60 Resources:

Good luck!

The Campaign to Exterminate Physical Activity

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I was taking a delightful bike ride on a sunny but brisk December day in San Diego, and I actually passed a father and son who were riding electric bikes (no pedaling). Just a couple of minutes later I saw a family zipping around like robots on Segways. Those images kind of spoiled my ride—for two reasons.

First, instead of encouraging their kids to be active, these parents were promoting the easy joys of slothfulness.  I’m sure they thought they were being good parents by having fun with their children, getting them outdoors, and introducing them to cool technology.  Here we are, 10 years into the New Millenium, and teaching your child to avoid physical activity is still considered good parenting.  With childhood obesity constantly in the media, why aren’t parents, as well as health professionals, public officials, school officials, and people in general, more concerned about making sure kids get enough physical activity?

That brings me to the second thought that spoiled my ride.  The campaign to exterminate physical activity!  Since the dawn of humanity people have been dreaming of ways to reduce their walking, get someone else to do the heavy work, and avoid sweating.  For millennia it was pretty hard to avoid physical activity and stay alive.  But in the past couple of hundred years, humanity’s dreams have come true.  One of the main motivations of the Industrial Revolution was to supply people with the Labor Saving Devices they craved, and gazillions of dollars have been made in the process.  Technological innovations have taken physical activity out of most work, transportation, and household tasks.  Our homes and offices are filled with Labor Saving Devices, from the electric can opener to the computer to the car.

The extermination has taken about 200 years, but it is almost complete.  Now, efforts to finally eradicate physical activity are getting a bit ridiculous.  Is it so onerous to walk a quarter mile that you would pay $5000 for a Segway?  Are people so committed to laziness that they will ride a bike that does the pedaling for them?  Is there any longer a problem of too-much-activity that needs a solution?

What all this means is that we have a lot of work to do.  Physical activity has been mainly exterminated, to catastrophic effect for our physical and mental health and medical costs.  But still, people buy any gizmo that promises to squeeze the last few minutes of activity from their day.  The Fitness Revolution of the 1980s did not create a culture of activity.  Parents are not teaching their children to enjoy movement, dance, games, and sport as much as they need to.  Appreciating new gizmos seems to take precedence.

Those of us who want to create better health through more activity continue to face big challenges.  Looks like my resolution for 2011 will be to get a little better at encouraging people to enjoy being active.

Jim Sallis