Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Education and Wellness

Recent research for an education paper and the culmination of a Wellness class have peaked my interest in the subject. We spend so much time debating what we can do to improve children's minds; meanwhile, their bodies are falling by the wayside. I understand that standardized tests put teachers under enormous pressure to cram in academics, but what happened to all the recess that children used to have?
In my practicum, kids have PE one day a week. If they are able to finish all their work, then they may get to play outside for a few minutes each day. While this is unrelated to fitness, I"m amazed that 3rd graders can stay focused for an entire day without any time to get their "wiggles" out. 6-6.5 hours is a long time to sit still! I observe for 5 hours/day and by the end of about 2 hours, I'm ready to jump, run, or at least stretch out.
But, despite the fact that it's nice to have a break, it's also crucial to children's health that good health habits are formed at an early age. Over 9 million children today are obese, and the government has decided that it's time to take action.
Action for Healthy Kids ( is an initiative that aims to combat obesity in the following three ways:
1.Increasing access to nutritious food choices in schools
2. Adding or continuing PE programs and extra curricular excercise activities
3. Educate administrators, teachers, parents and children

I think that this is an excellent initiative that is very necessary in our school systems today. Academics are so important, but bottom line is...obesity causes tons of health problems. Obesity leads to preventable deaths due to heart attacks, diabetes, etc. When it comes down to it, what good will it do if you're a genius, but your health is failing because you haven't taken care of your body?
Hopefully this will inspire schools to not push health and PE aside...children still need to know the importance of playing outside, having fun, eating healthily and taking care of their bodies. What's the possibility of including some standards for fitness? Or at least holding schools accountable for providing better options for fitness?


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