Tuesday, March 11

Most elementary schools not meeting state gym requirements

In the last few years, the city's schools have gotten better about identifying overweight students and suggesting more activity for them, but physical education still gets short shrift at most schools, according to the Gotham Gazette. The DOE's Office of Fitness and Physical Education implemented a fitness test, called the FitnessGRAM, to give students and their parents more information about their fitness level. But because of the pressure to focus on tested subjects and space and staffing constraints, most elementary schools continue to offer far less than the state-mandated 120 minutes per week of physical activity, instead suggesting to parents ways to help their kids be active and eat healthfully at home. I wonder how many families are able to respond to the FitnessGRAM results the way the DOE expects them to. And even if every parent of an overweight child changes his or her habits because of the test results, should we let schools pass off state-required health and fitness instruction to students' homes?


Anonymous said...

I find the Fitness Grams insulting, personally. I got one last year. My son developed a weight problem only AFTER he began attending traditional NYC public schools where gym and recess are very low priority. Previously he had attended a progressive school where, though they didn't get gym every day they did get recess outdoors in all but the worst weather. They were also allowed to run and play during this recess. At his current school they are not allowed to run during the 2 recess periods they get in a week. The rest of the days they spend watching movies. I do not think it is acceptable for the schools to pass their obligations to the physical development of the students on to the parents. Most boys, and many girls, have a hard time concentrating if they do not get a chance to run and play. Overemphasis on the two academics that are over-tested does the children no justice when other vitally important programs, such as gym, music, art, science, geography, civics, history and recess are neglected. Personally I think recess is of equal importance, and if the children got both the gym and recess they should be getting many of their weight problems would melt away. There are many reasons that parents find it difficult to ensure that their children get enough exercise, not least of which are the dearth of playgrounds in many city neighborhoods, especially outside Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the physical education teacher in that school. I've met some who have moved mountains: stayed after school for extra phys ed, created sports programs where none existed, lobbyed and fundraised for equipment, developed adventurous, inspirational activities for the kids even within the confines of a small space. I've seen it done. There really is no excuse to not produce a great phys ed program for our children if you have a phys ed teacher willing to put in the effort and more importantly, the passion. You show me a school that says they can't do all this, and I'll find a way that they can. It's time for our phys ed teachers to buck up and stop making excuses and start innovating.

Anonymous said...

Really ? I think parents need to start taking responsibility for the health of their own children and stop passing the buck to the schools. I see what they feed their kids and they begin school at the age of 5 being overweight. Is this the school's fault ?