Archive for the ‘healthy school environment’ Category


Early Childhood Teaching Tips: Increasing Physical Education Participation

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Every teacher has encountered children who are not disruptive, but demonstrate that are clearly not ready to participate in structured physical activity.
It is essential to develop a positive learning environment that is physically and emotionally safe. The goal is that children feel secure, are able to take risks, try new things, help one another, and see themselves as part of the class. Try the following strategies:
Allow the child too simply observe the activity.
Be patient. Don’t force the child.
Give the child a manipulative and see if any exploration begins.
Be certain children have progressed through developmentally appropriate activities.
Digress to simpler tasks.
Partner the child with an out-going classmate.
Send activities home to engage children in more practice time in a different setting.
For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson including a Family Fun activity to send home, Click Here.

Every teacher has encountered children who are not disruptive, but demonstrate that are clearly not ready to participate in structured physical activity.

It is essential to develop a positive learning environment that is physically and emotionally safe. The goal is that children feel secure, are able to take risks, try new things, help one another, and see themselves as part of the class. Try the following strategies:

Allow the child too simply observe the activity.Increasing Participation- Spark PE

Be patient. Don’t force the child.

Give the child a manipulative and see if any exploration begins.

Be certain children have progressed through developmentally appropriate activities.

Digress to simpler tasks.

Partner the child with an out-going classmate.

Send activities home to engage children in more practice time in a different setting.

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson including a Family Fun activity to send home, Click Here.

Early Childhood Teaching Tips: Repeating PE Lessons

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
Children enter preschool with different experiences and levels of exposure to physical activity. Lessons should be presented in a teaching progression to introduce and develop fundamental movement and motor skills which require repetition and practice. Teachers are the best judge of how rapidly to progress through lessons. Rather than moving on to the next lesson, repeating lesson segments using slight modifications may be beneficial in helping children feel successful. Keep in mind:
It is acceptable to repeat lessons or lesson segments to help children feel comfortable. Repeating activities children enjoy ensures they are having fun!
It is acceptable to repeat activities that children enjoy and are easy to teach. Avoid getting into the routine of repeating the same activity too frequently “just because” it is fun and easy to teach. Instead, use favored activities as “the carrot” to motivate and heighten enjoyment.
For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson that is fun and easy to teach, Click Here.

Repeating Lessons- Tips for TeachersChildren enter preschool with different experiences and levels of exposure to physical activity. Lessons should be presented in a teaching progression to introduce and develop fundamental movement and motor skills which require repetition and practice. Teachers are the best judge of how rapidly to progress through lessons. Rather than moving on to the next lesson, repeating lesson segments using slight modifications may be beneficial in helping children feel successful. Keep in mind:

It is acceptable to repeat lessons or lesson segments to help children feel comfortable. Repeating activities children enjoy ensures they are having fun!

It is acceptable to repeat activities that children enjoy and are easy to teach. Avoid getting into the routine of repeating the same activity too frequently “just because” it is fun and easy to teach. Instead, use favored activities as “the carrot” to motivate and heighten enjoyment.

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson that is fun and easy to teach, Click Here.

Integrating Physical Activity and Literature

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Integrating Physical Activity and Literature
The primary goal of structured physical activity time is to ensure that children engage in sufficient minutes of developmentally appropriate activity. Teachers have opportunities to enhance lessons through the integration of language arts by reading a book before a lesson, incorporating a book into a lesson, or reading a book immediately following a lesson as part of a cool-down. In an effort to keep physical activity at its highest integrate literature without giving up movement time.
Books should coordinate with lessons and can relate to one or more of the following themes:
Colors
Language Arts
Mathematics
Movement Skills and Knowledge
Nutrition
Personal Development
Science
Self Image
SocialDevelopment
For a sample lesson plan that includes literature integration, Click Here.

The primary goal of structured physical activity time is to ensure that children engage in sufficient minutes of developmentally appropriate activity. Teachers have opportunities to enhance lessons through the integration of language arts by reading a book before a lesson, incorporating a book into a lesson, or reading a book immediately following a lesson as part of a cool-down. In an effort to keep physical activity at its highest integrate literature without giving up movement time.

Books should coordinate with lessons and can relate to one or more of the following themes:

Colors

Language Arts

Mathematics

Movement Skills and Knowledge

Nutrition

Personal Development

Science

Self Image

Social Development

For a sample lesson plan that includes literature integration, Click Here.

Tips for teachers

Early Childhood Teaching Tips: How to Decrease Inappropriate Behavior During Structured Physical Activity

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Tips for teaching preschool childrenChildren 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 early childhood physical 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.

Here are 11 tips  to help decrease inappropriate behavior during early childhood physical activity:

  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.

CDC’s Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!

Deadlines:

Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011

Application: July 15, 2011

Summary:

  • Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
  • To create healthier communities by
  1. Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
  2. Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health

Eligibility:

  • Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
  • Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
  • State nonprofit organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations

Links:

CDC Community Transformation Grants Homepage

Grants.gov Notice and Application

Before You Apply:

SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!

SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.

Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:

  1. Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
  2. Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
  3. Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
  4. How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
  5. Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission

Next Steps:

Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.

Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Partnership Development Specialist

kballard@sparkpe.org

3 Nutrition Questions Answered…

Monday, September 13th, 2010
1. What are the best snacks for kids to help them sustain their energy levels all day?

The best snacks for sustaining energy levels are ones that combine complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits or vegetables, with some lean protein such as nuts or cheese, and a little bit of fat to enhance taste and satiety.

Healthy Kids Challenge Top 10 Healthy Snack Choices

  1. ½ cup fresh fruit – with low-fat yogurt dip
  2. ½ cup vegetables – with low-fat dressing dip
  3. 5 whole grain crackers – with salsa or bean dip
  4. 1 cup whole grain cereal – with 8 oz. skim milk
  5. 3 cups popcorn – with 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts)
  6. 1 oz. low-fat cheese – with 1 thin slice lean meat and whole grain roll
  7. 8 oz. fat-free flavored yogurt – with cut-up fresh fruit added
  8. 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese – with pineapple chunks
  9. 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts) – with ¼ cup raisins
  10. 1 Tbsp peanut butter – with celery sticks
2. Where do we go for quick, easy, and healthy recipes?

Here’s a list of Healthy Kids Challenge favorites online.  Each of these is a Partner in Health with HKC.  You can count on all of them to offer a variety of healthy recipes, affordable family meal ideas, and even “kid friendly” recipes sections, too!

Cooking Light – Includes categories such as “quick and easy” and “kid friendly” and access to the magazine’s recipe list.

Cabot – In addition to recipes, the Healthy Eating section includes recipe makeovers and cooking with kids tips.

Del Monte Recipes & Tools – Kid friendly recipes are simple to make and the “Meals Under $10” are healthy and tasty, too.

Mission – Look for “Family Meals Under $10” and “Fiesta Favorites” for a healthy spin on traditional tortilla fare.

3. Why is it important to eat whole grains and limit saturated fat?

A healthy diet including fiber from whole grains is important because whole grains help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may help with weight management.  The fiber in whole grains helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.  A food with 5 grams or more per serving is high in fiber.

It is important to limit saturated fat, which is solid fat, because it tends to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, increasing your risk for heart disease. Limit solid fats like butter, stick margarine, or shortening. Instead, choose oils, which are more heart healthy, and in small amounts are a healthy choice.  Choose fat from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils more often. For more information, visit www.mypyramid.gov.

Coordinated School Health- Motivation for Change

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

SPARK recently completed a 2-year research study in Louisville, KY for our Coordinated School Health Initiative. Coordinated School Health is an approach to school health that improves students’ health and their capacity to learn through the support of families, schools, and communities working together.

The SPARK research study was designed to pilot our programs and research their effectiveness with elementary schools. Intervention schools were provided curriculum, equipment, and materials in addition to staff development to implement the programs. The desired outcomes of the project were to increase student physical activity levels, health knowledge and improve health behaviors. For teachers and staff the focus was to increase the quality and quantity of nutrition, health and physical education levels as well as improving their own health.

Although the results of the research project won’t be released until this fall, one of the intervention schools has used this opportunity as a springboard to making some significant additions to their school. Locust Grove Elementary has recently partnered with two local hospitals to fund a full-time nutrition education teacher and provide a weekly class for all K-5 students. In addition to adding a nutrition component to their curriculum, they have created a Minds in Motion Lab for physical activity where students will spend 10 minutes a day going through different stations to improve their coordination, motor skill development, balance, and rhythm. The goal of this program is to increase the quantity of physical activity as well as to prepare the brain for learning. Locust Grove also has several policies now in place to support the healthy school environment. The two most significant policies state that all teachers must provide 20 minutes of physical activity every day, and food is not allowed in classrooms for classroom celebrations or to be used as a reward for students.

Making these types of changes requires a commitment not only from the administration to pass the policies and fund the programs, but from the school staff to implement the policies and from the parents to support the changes. Would you like to improve your school environment using the Coordinated School Health Model? Give us a call at SPARK to find out where to start!

-Jeff Mushkin
Project Specialist/Trainer

Four SPARK Schools Win National Award for Healthy Schools

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Each year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation awards  the Healthy Schools Program National Recognition Award to schools around the country that have reached an important benchmark in improving the learning and working environments of students and staff.

By making significant changes in the areas of healthy eating, physical activity and staff wellness, these schools have joined a growing movement of committed individuals and organizations that are working to combat childhood obesity and foster healthier communities

This year, four schools were awarded because they implemented a SPARK program in their school!

Wilkerson Elementary School – El Monte, California

Wilkerson Elementary School has made student health a priority. They started by upgrading their physical education program by providing SPARK training for all the classroom teachers. This was supported by the purchase of new physical education equipment that would encourage teachers to implement active participation and non-competitive activities as part of physical education. The next step was to provide awareness of the value of healthy food choices, introducing students to new fruits and vegetables and the “Caught Eating Healthy” campaign which provided rewards to students that selected healthier options in the cafeteria.

North Beach Elementary School – Miami Beach, Florida

The PE department made significant changes to its curriculum this year. It was one of 40 pilot schools in the county selected to adopt and train teachers in the SPARK program of inclusive, easy to learn PE activities. In support of this change, the PTA granted the PE department $6,700 to purchase new equipment to be used for the SPARK program. Members of the school’s student wellness council came up with a way to put a healthy spin on the traditional career week this year: they invited local health and wellness experts, including speakers from the Pritikin Longevity Center, Miami Heat Basketball Team and the Coast Guard, to lead discussions and conduct hands-on demonstrations for the students, staff and community.

Cortada Elementary School – El Monte, California

Teachers were trained in the SPARK program and began incorporating more structured, active play during physical education classes. The school participates in the annual Walk to School Day as well as the California Nutrition Network which provides healthy recipes in English and Spanish. The Harvest of the Month program provides classrooms with produce for students to sample as well as materials for incorporating the food into lessons. They also offer a Guest Chef program where teachers can sign up to have a chef come in to make something special with the produce, which everyone has enjoyed.

Le Gore Elementary School – El Monte, California

Le Gore started by looking at their physical education program. After providing training in the SPARK program, the teachers are energized about PE and what was once only playtime for students has become a true physical education program. The school wellness council meets during the school site council every two months; together they plan and coordinate other activities to benefit students. By working together, they have made other significant improvements at Le Gore including replacing traditional chocolate and candy fundraisers with healthier alternatives.

Congratulations to these schools and all the others that won! You should be proud of your accomplishments and thank you for helping fight childhood obesity in this country!

-SPARK

Good News About Active Physical Education

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

To those of us at SPARK, and certainly to me, active classes is a hallmark of quality Physical Education (PE). A PE class in which students are standing or sitting most of the time cannot be a good PE class. PE is about teaching through the physical. The goal is to teach movement skills, teamwork, and positive social interactions, as well as improve fitness and promote the joy of movement by getting students active. Right? In my view, teaching facts about physiology, bio-mechanics, sociology, history of sport and other content is a lesser priority. If you can teach facts while the kids are active, that’s great. Otherwise, I would prefer the students learn useful knowledge in health education, which should have a strong component on physical activity and effective behavior change methods. Physical activity is the heart and soul of PE.

The Healthy People objectives for the nation have included goals for active PE since at least 1990. The health objective of ensuring at least 50% of PE class time is spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is specific and measurable. This objective, and others recommending sufficient quantity of PE, demonstrate that the Department of Health and Human Services sees school PE as an important partner in improving children’s health. It looks like these objectives will be carried over into Healthy People 2020. The rationale for these objectives is simple. Many or most young people are endangering their health by not meeting physical activity guidelines, and PE is the only part of the school day that can ensure ALL students get some physical activity. It is well documented that, too often, only a small portion of PE class time is spent in MVPA, so meeting the MVPA objective could help the health of millions of children. During the obesity epidemic, it is essential to use every opportunity to help kids be active, and PE is at the top of the list—again, because it is the only opportunity that can affect all kids.

I have been lamenting in talks and conversations for many years that I do not know of any national, state, or local educational agency that has adopted the 50% MVPA guidelines. For 20 years, the public health field has asked, encouraged, and begged education agencies to make sure kids are active in PE. NIH has spent many millions of dollars on SPARK, MSPAN, CATCH, Pathways, TAAG, and LEAP to demonstrate that active PE is feasible and effective in elementary, middle, and high schools. Yet for 20 years the education field has ignored public health’s pleas, and those of us in public health do not really understand the resistance to helping kids become healthier.

Here is the good news. The barrier has been broken. A ray of hope is shining that may mean public health and education can work toward the shared goal of adopting policies of 50% MVPA in PE. I heard a presentation of results from Bridging the Gap, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-supported research program. Bridging the Gap reviewed written school wellness policies in a national sample of schools. They reported what percent of students were in districts that had a strong policy to require 50% MVPA. A strong policy required action, had an implementation plan, and used words like shall, must, and enforce. To my surprise, the result was not zero. The number was only 6-7%, but it was above zero. This looks like a good outcome of the federally-mandated school wellness policies. However, now someone needs to check on whether these strong policies are actually leading to improved PE. Note that I am ignoring the 22-29% of students in districts with weak policies, because they don’t mean anything. Download the Bridging the Gap report on wellness policies.

These few districts are leading the way to healthier and higher quality PE. My hope is that other districts will follow their lead. Then state departments of education will decide this policy is worth adopting. Then state departments and districts will provide staff development, curriculum, and equipment to ensure all the teachers can reach this goal and the other goals of PE. Then perhaps we will meet the Healthy People 2020 objective, PE classes across the country will be more active, and children will be healthier. This is what we are working toward with SPARK.

Jim Sallis
www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu

Do You Live in a Healthy Neighborhood?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I was recently asked to propose a short list of indicators of a “healthy neighborhood.” The list was to be considered by the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative, which is a wonderful coalition working hard to improve environments and policies to support children’s health. I thought others might be interested in the list, so I am sharing it here.

The items represent my understanding of likely physical or built environmental influences on diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors. Many of the items are consistent with evidence. I believe the general concepts are sound, but the specific numbers and distances are best guesses. For present purposes I added a few priority indicators for healthy schools and homes.

Healthy food access

  • Supermarket or other source of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables within ½ mile of homes
  • No more than 2 convenience or liquor stores within ½ mile of homes
  • No more fast food than sit-down restaurants within ½ mile of homes
  • Community garden within 1 mile of homes
  • Weekly farmer’s market within 1 mile of homes

Facilities for active recreation

  • Park with play equipment in good working order within ½ mile of homes
  • Parks have walking paths
  • Daily youth activity programs for free or sliding scale fees in all parks
  • Private recreation facility with sliding scale fees within ½ mile of homes
  • Nearest school activity facilities is open for public use

Designing for active transport

  • Sidewalks on every street in neighborhood
  • Pedestrian aids (crosswalks, signal) at intersection with nearest busy street
  • Street pattern creates direct routes from homes to nearby destinations
  • Nearest shopping area has sidewalks and safe pedestrian crossings
  • Public transit stop within ½ mile of homes

Healthy school environments

  • Evidence-based physical education offered daily
  • Markings on preschool and elementary playgrounds to stimulate active play
  • Sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and traffic calming within ¼ mile of each school to facilitate safe walking and biking
  • Salad bars with multiple raw food choices daily in every cafeteria
  • Only healthy foods provided at school
  • Convenience stores and fast food restaurants are not within ¼ mile of schools
  • No food advertising in schools

Healthy home environments

  • No televisions in children’s bedrooms
  • Only healthy foods out on the counter for snacking
  • Sports and activity supplies available for both indoor and outdoor play
  • A bicycle or skateboard for every child

James Sallis

www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu