Written by Betty Ann Fish, 2015 SHAPE America National Elementary PE Teacher of the Year
The summer is winding down. As a physical education teacher, my hope is that your child has been physically active during their time off! Daily physical activity is vital for building healthy bodies and better brain power. But in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a new school year, how can you help ensure that physical activity remains a priority for your child? Encouraging physical activity throughout the school day is the goal of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). Many schools use a CSPAP – an approach supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators. The school-wide model offers students opportunities to be physically active before, during and after school, in order to meet the nationally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
What Makes Up a CSPAP?
Physical education is the foundation of a CSPAP. During class, students learn physical skills, apply them through a variety of different physical activities and become educated about the importance of being physically active. The remaining building blocks of a CSPAP expand on what is learned in PE to create a school, family and community culture that values physical activity and health in and out of school.
Resources to Share
Something to think about as your student begins another school year is what makes up your child’s PE program? And, how can you become involved in fostering more movement? Two must-have resources come to mind. The first is SHAPE America’s new CSPAP website. It gives an overview of each of the CSPAP elements and guides schools through each of them. The other is SHAPE America’s Essential Components of Physical Education guidance document which includes a PE Checklist that school leaders can use to identify a PE program’s strengths and where improvements can be made. I encourage you to share both with the school PE teacher and principal.
Seek Active Opportunities!
When families are active together, they naturally spend more time together and experience health benefits! Consider participating in weekend or after-school events or serving as a volunteer. One way I tell parents to encourage more physical activity withoutcommitting to a team or investing money, is to lace up your sneakers and take a walk with your child.
A couple of ways we foster more physical activity at school is through “Walking Wednesday” and our walking/jogging program during recess. On Wednesday, any student that arrives early to school can walk and talk with me as I travel around the halls.
At recess, students pick up their card and for each lap they complete, it’s scanned and the results are uploaded. They are anxious to find out how many miles they have walked and love to set goals for their grade level to walk across the state!
If your child likes to play sports, then an organized recreational program is another opportunity to increase movement. Use their PE teacher as a resource to help determine what sport or activity might be appropriate.
Ultimately, the goal we are all working toward is to encourage children to lead a life of physical activity in whatever form is most enjoyable to them! For more resources on how you can get involved in helping your child thrive through a healthy, physically active lifestyle, visit www.shapeamerica.org.
Spread the Word!