Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Children and Physical Education

As most of you know, teaching Physical Education was a dream come true for me.  Going into it I was hopeful that I would impact children, especially children who dreaded exercise the way that I did as a child. 

I was going to make a difference, a true difference. 

The experience teaching PE was great!  Mostly positive, although larger class sizes and lack of space made it difficult a lot of the time.  Most importantly I was involved in helping kids MOVE, helping them be active and I made sure to help children see the FUN in all exercises and sports.  It was a huge part of my passion, still is. 

For me what I remember as a child in PE was one of my coaches calling out my weight during class and me wanting to crawl under a rock...but couldn't. 
I remember skipping out of the mile run EVERY chance I could get.  I remember being hot and sweaty the moment I walked outside and hating it.  I recall faking injury after injury just to avoid having to participate in many of the activities we'd have.  Ugh.  I try not to focus on regret but how I wish sometimes that things would've been different for me growing up but that's okay because I use my past to help in my children's future...that matters! 

You may ask, how does a girl like that become, or want to become a PE teacher??
It's simple...TO BE DIFFERENT.  To change the cycle and make a difference in a positive way rather than leaving children with only negative and defeated memories from physical education.  In a perfect world, exercise should happen throughout the day at school.  Before, during and after we should be able to find kids running, jumping, or organizing their own game of football. 

As I was teaching I'd talk with children and really listen.  MANY do not have a positive relationship with exercise.  How sad is that?  At some point they have felt discouraged or defeated with a physical activity that makes them doubt their abilities and that makes me sad.  And so many just were not exposed to it at home, at all.  Ever.  How incredibly sad is that?  So many of our positive memories are made laughing and playing with family.  Did that vanish from our homes as technology took over?  When I left teaching four years ago to raise our sons, I left a great atmosphere, amazing children and a great job! But it will always be a part of me and this week I was asked to help out in PE and it was eye-opening on so many levels. It was like I had never left, I used my "PE voice" and helped in every way possible!  I missed it, I can't lie but the changes in children that have taken place is scary to say the least.  FOUR YEARS of being away from physical education and our children are unhealthier?  How is that possible?  And I don't mean by a little, I mean a lot.  Growing up I was not the norm.  Most children were healthy, played outside after school for hours, ate fairly healthy and played sports.  Many did not own video games as I did and if they did, they rarely played them.  They knew how to play kickball, soccer, baseball, volleyball and four square but what I saw this week would amaze most of you...

Children who rarely get more than 15 minutes of recess, were begging to go indoors and lay down on the gym floor.  YES.  They were all "tired, sad, discouraged and gave up by laying out in the grass"...3/4 of a large class needed to be taught the basics of kickball.  As in, no motor skills to roll, kick or run.  YES.  It was not a low income school or a school out in the woods, this is a great community, full of active adults and families but To play was a CHORE to many of these children.  Because sadly most of them NEVER play that way elsewhere.  The recess times are down to nothing and many are not required to "play" during that time, so they choose to sit around and talk. The short amount of time they have to get that blood pumping, those endorphins going...and it's spent sitting. They love when the bell rings because they are closer to video games and less sunshine and human interaction and movement?  They de-stress in front of their electronics, do homework, eat and go to sleep?  Yuck. 
Curriculum must be changed to minimal skills because the things you and I did as kids are not what kids these days are doing near as much.  Where did we lose touch? 

Since when is it more important to pass a standardized test than it is to nourish our bodies and get our heart pumping??  Oh it blows my mind...

What good is our brain if we have an unhealthy heart paired with it?  Seriously. 
We are raising smart, unhealthy people?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?
So if I sit around feeling sorry for my childhood experiences with my health issues, then how should we feel about today's youth?  Scary isn't it?  Is it the norm?  I sure hope not but from what I saw...I'm very afraid of the future. 

We must wake up and see what is happening to our children...all of our children.  And I do not speak on behalf of anyone but myself and what I have experienced and witnessed.  I am simply an observer and health educator wanting to make it a happy, healthier place for my children and yours. 
They return home from school, after 8 hours of sitting behind a desk and we ask them to sit down and do homework for 1, 2, maybe three hours?  We PUSH for better grades but shove McDonald's into them because it's quick and easy.  Recess used to be a time to get sweaty and run around like crazy but now it's taken away as punishment for behavior IN that classroom?  NO WAY.  If we don't know then we must begin to pay attention. 

I'd rather my children work hard in ALL aspects of their lives, what about you?  I want my children to focus on their education, the way they fuel their bodies and how they take care of their heart through physical activity.  MORE important than all of that I want them to LIVE LIFE.  Truly live it.  Feel it and breathe it.  All that it can offer and to not have it cut short by a health issue that could have been prevented. 

Our children need to feel defeat and failure just as much as they feel success and achievement.  But only if it's done the right way.  They need to learn how to win and lose in everything.  They need to know that life isn't always fair and that working hard for something is the only way you earn it!

Physical sports and competition, field day and other activities teach this but sadly if  "all children do not receive a medal or a ribbon" it's quickly taken away from school programs.  Why?   

I'm ashamed that Texas hasn't stepped up with this issue.  It's a HUGE issue but many don't see it unless they SEE IT.  Out of sight-out of mind for most and that's okay but I wanted to shed light on something very close to my heart and wanted to share how worried I am after that experience.  This blog is my place to do that and I apologize if this offends any of you.

How many of your children attend PE every day?  It's rare around here these days due to class size and other block courses.  What about recess?  What does your child do at recess? How long are they outdoors?  Is it taken away on test days or days with behavior issues? 

Would LOVE your thoughts!!! 


Rachelle Q said...

Very sad:( Luckily PE is still a very active time where we live. There is no option to sit and I can't believe that is an option! Crazy! How can our kids be educated efficiently if they are physically sluggish all day?

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

so sad! This only confirms that my kids will not be getting nintendo, gameboys, wii, whatevers. I want them to stay off that stuff and stay active!

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