In various areas of the world, there are many children who perform very low in sport or fitness. They are overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy. The question arises quite often, what can we do with them? They are not receiving the exercise at home, nor in school. These children do like even like sports or fitness. What can we do?
An article in ‘The Age’ (link) called, “When school sport is just an exercise in frustration” discusses this growing concern, although it did not give many suggestions to this concern.
Physical education in the schools has changed, although this article does portray PE in a negative manner. “School physical education classes can be very traumatic for students who are overweight and those who don’t like sport. They dread the line-up where teams are picked, they get embarrassed standing on the starting blocks in their bathers and they hate coming last at every compulsory sports day, cross country event, time trial and orienteering.”
This type of PE is really in the past, The ‘new PE’ tries to accommodate all children, and make all children feel comfortable as well as confident.
So, why is this article important? Articles like the one mentioned above really support the need for quality, daily PE in the schools taught by a certified instructor.
Later on, the article makes great sense by stating the following:
“”Exercise more” is sound advice but why would any student who found exercise difficult and suffered horribly in school sports classes simply just decide to do more of it? And why is it that if a child is not “achieving at the expected level” in reading writing or arithmetic they are offered remedial classes, special education, catch up sessions and plenty of school-based support. But if a student is unfit or not good at sport, he and his parents are on their own? How do we expect students to follow the mantra to exercise more if they don’t have the skills or confidence to do so? If we are as serious about making fitness a national priority, as we are about the three R’s, then maybe we could start thinking about strategies for helping students who are not good at sport rather than just nagging them and their parents. We certainly did not expect children’s literacy and numeracy standards to increase just by talking about the “three Rs”. Perhaps schools need to offer remedial or more individualized sports tuition. This tuition may not only improve students’ skills and confidence but they may also stop dreading sports day and start to enjoy exercise.”
So what can parents or teachers do to help children in need?
First off, a teamwork needs to be created. The parent, teacher, or coach all have to be on the same page. They all want to same result, to make a children enjoy fitness/sport and to be healthy.
Find out what the child likes to do and build on it. For example, if a child enjoys walking because it is easy to do, then build a program around walking. If they like basketball, try to build a healthy program around basketball.
Build up the child’s self esteem. Don’t over criticize them. They probably do that enough to themselves on their own.
Try not to pressure them too much. Let them have some degree of control in the situation.
Positive reinforcement is a great thing. Compliment them on any effort they give.
Keep an open line of communication with the child. Let them know they can always contact you at any time.
Stay consistent with their exercise. Doing something once a week or two will not help much. Try to make a schedule and stick to it.
Lead by example. A child will not respect you if you don’t practice what you preach.