Commentary by Richard Rairigh and Lorie Barnes
I completely agree with everything Rae Pica has to tell us about being advocates and champions for physical education, but ensuring that it is DAP, and making sure that it is not used as a bargaining chip. My daughter encountered this in elementary school. Too many days I heard tales of disruptive kids, losing recess time for all kids, or as punishment for late homework. It didn't take me long to figure out how my daughter learned to gobble down dinner in less than five minutes....because that's what happens at lunch time in school, so they could have more recess time.
It took a group of angry parents and three sit down meetings with teachers and administrators to make some changes. I'm not sure if the policies we demanded back in 2001 are still working.
The comments by Lorie Barnes, regarding the brains ability to translate large motor skills, like twirling, personal space and intersecting lines, into literacy skills fascinated me. I wish I had known some of this back then.
As a teacher, I see the importance of providing unstructured as well as some teacher led large motor activities to help learn some of the skills that Lorie discusses, but I struggle with very limited time for outside play to make that a reality! I will however make an effort to be more intentional with these large motor skills. I find myself, due to lack of space and safety issues, saying "Walking Feet!", all day in my classroom.
Richard Rairigh's thoughtful questions regarding "The Body Matters" chapter, remind me to make sure I am offering lots of movement opportunities, with a positive attitude and encouraging words. I am not the most physically active person, but as a teacher, I am up and down and on the floor engaging with my charges, running and playing with them on the playground and sing and dance along with them.
His question as to how I engage my kinesthetic learners, has me asking, aren't all toddlers kinesthetic learners? They explore by eating, throwing, feeling, squishing, pulling, pushing and ~moving~!
All my children need movement, but I have a few children that need lots of extra large motor activities, like running trucks, climbing on the climber, and dancing, to then be able to sit and engage in group time. Those are the ones who may be categorized as kinesthetic learners as they move into preschool and elementary school.
He later asks the question, "Do you have negative memories about your physical education experiences as a child...?" Yes. I disliked GYM class. We were always lined up, waiting our turn to do something in a smelly gym. I liked it when we could go swimming, but not much else.
My parents on the other hand always had us biking, camping, hiking, engaged in scouting and other activities that brought us into nature and required ~moving! Thankfully I had those patents that understood the importance of that, and I have tried to engage my daughter the same way.
The obesity/exercise issue has me worried for our future kids. We live in a society where good, fresh, healthy food is expensive and kids are rushed from one thing to the next with no time to eat a meal other than in a car, or the other option, without parents at home and fending for themselves and eating, alone, in front of a T.V. Eating junk, fast food and too much soda. Compound that with no movement in an eight hour school day, and tired parents at home each night. Is it any wonder?