Let's get physical

31st March 2006 at 01:00
Bocking welcomes a free pack that encourages responsibility for your own health

A Teacher's Guide to Health Related Fitness at Key Stage One

By Dr Craig Williams

Magenta and Dairy UK

Email: enquiries@magentaonline.co.uk

Very few teachers of young children feel confident about teaching PE:so say the producers of this free resource pack, developed to supplement existing lesson plans and topics on the importance of PE for good health.

Written by Dr Craig Williams from the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre at Exeter University, the guide is split into five sections covering: cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and mental health.

The stated aim of this resource folder is "to promote a healthier lifestyle through the topic of health-related fitness in PE lessons" and to "encourage young children to take responsibility for their own health and lifestyle".

With this in mind, two A2-size wall posters are included, depicting a pair of only slightly gory cutaway children: a boy revealing his skeleton, joints and muscles with the message "exercise makes me strong and healthy", and a leaping girl with heart, lungs and blood vessels in full view, declaring "exercise makes me fit and well" (another A3-sized poster covers stretch routines for different parts of the body).

Each of the five subjects covered by the pack is introduced with two pages of background material and practical issues of teaching the subject as part of the national curriculum.

Each subject area also comprises a list of key points in the form of a question-and-answer session, a glossary of terms used, a sample lesson plan, and a bullet-point summary. Ideas for games or ways of incorporating the subject areas into dance or gymnastics lessons are also included.

A set of additional notes includes recommendations for physical activity, a short bibliography, and discussion about some of the points raised by the pack. This includes the public health issues faced by a country where an increasing number of children are classed as overweight or obese, and where children as young as 12 can have risk factors of coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or a smoking habit.

The notes also take pains to highlight the difference between fitness and regular physical activity. There is evidence, it seems, that general fitness in children has not declined over the past 50 years (perhaps because genetics has as much bearing on a child's fitness as training and exercise), but the weekly amount of physical activity taken up by children has gone down significantly. Promoting physical activity, it is argued, is a more effective way for a school to improve pupils' health rather than implementing fitness training regimes.

This pack is sponsored by Dairy UK and the Milk Development Council, but on the first page the organisations are straightforward about their involvement as "part of the UK dairy industry's promotion of milk in primary schools".

The 58-page hardback folder is organised in a clear and helpful way and, luckily, the ill-conceived stock silhouette images of a girl about to take part in a ball game wearing flip-flops and a child wearing a cycle helmet on the back of his head are hidden away in the teacher's pack.

The example games are probably well known to most PE practitioners, but the information and lesson material could be helpful for those wanting to know more about the benefits of PE.

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