Co-authored by Georgi Roberts, MS.
Students learn long division and WWII history, but do they know how to properly nourish their bodies and maintain healthy fitness levels? As a parent, you are in the prime position to advocate for your child’s overall health and well-being during the school day.
Quality physical education (QPE) programs are essential to students’ well-being and quality of life. When school QPE programs are supported by knowledgeable teachers and caring staff and parents, BIG CHANGES can happen in the lives of students.
QPE, and physical activity throughout the school day, gives students the opportunity to improve their health and develop lifelong healthy habits. Recent studies show that students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior) that help them perform better academically. There is much to be said about keeping fit!
FITNESSGRAM, the national health-related fitness assessment adopted by the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, is designed to teach students how their fitness impacts their quality of life. Through the program they learn how to take care of their bodies by developing healthy lifestyle habits, like monitoring fitness levels and setting health-related S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed) goals.
Students’ FITNESSGRAM scores should be used to help them assess their own fitness and set goals for improvement. Scores are individual and private, and should only be shared with the student and parent. Parents may even share and discuss their child’s FITNESSGRAM report with their pediatrician so he or she is aware of the child’s health-related fitness levels. Scores should not be used for grading students or evaluating teachers, but instead to guide instruction in physical education class and create interventions where needed to help improve a student’s health.
Quality physical and health education prepares children to take care of their bodies for a lifetime. The goal is for students to develop regular routines that improve fitness and help students learn to make healthy choices that yield lifelong wellness.
You CAN make a difference. Get to know your child’s physical education teacher and offer your support. You can join the School Health Advisory Council or Campus Advisory Committee. Maybe even schedule a meeting with the Principal or a school board member to discuss the value of a healthy school environment. How do you plan on making your child’s school a healthier place?
About the Authors:
Dolly Lambdin, EdD is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin and the current President of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (aka SHAPE America). She is a member of the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board and has 16 years teaching experience in public and private schools grades K-8 and 37 years in teacher preparation at the university level. Among her many accolades, she was awarded the Elizabeth Shatto Massey Distinguished Fellow in Teacher Education honor in 2009.
Georgi Roberts, MS is the Director of Health and Physical Education at Fort Worth Independent School District and a member of the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board. She served on a national committee in 2013-2014 to create the second edition of the National Physical Education Standards and Student Outcomes adding grade-level expectations. Most recently she was awarded the “Joy of Effort” by SHAPE America, and in 2013, she was awarded the “Honor Award” from TAHPERD, recognizing her excellence in teaching and contributions to research, professional literature, and leadership in the professions of HPERD.