One of my number one causes in life is to help support and link resources to our public schools in order to ensure fitness, wellness, and health curriculum is actively and consistently taught to our children so that they develop positive and healthy values and habits that will last their lifetime. The major reason we moved to our district is for our children to benefit from what is considered a luxury (5 days a week of PE and recess). I could list a multitude of research studies that demonstrate the scientifically proven benefits of physical activity and it's positive correlation with academic performance. In fact, research shows that if you reduce PE time; grades and health gradually decline. Research also shows that if you increase PE time; grades and health improve. Seems like a no brainer to me. If you'd like to read these articles, I will provide the links at the end of this blog.
As an adult, I know how much I need exercise everyday in order to feel and function well. If I don't exercise regularly (at least 5 days a week), I get grumpy, constipated, my back back tightens up, I get acne and my energy, motivation and self-esteem suffer. As a parent, I know that my children actually enjoy and want to be active. They have fun running around and playing games. They learn new skills. They learn about the importance of rules. They learn how to function as a team, and most importantly they learn that you don't always win. These are life lessons that will help them transition into successful, productive and happy adults. If they are forced to sit for too long, they feel like they are being tortured. It goes against what is natural to their bodies. I am tired of training our children to be sedentary. It doesn't benefit them short or long-term to sit in a classroom and learn for 7 hours a day. They need active and fun breaks and physical activity. They also need the curriculum that accompanies physical education. They need to understand how their bodies work, how to fuel them, how to use them, and how to protect them.
So, when the word "leaked" out that the elementary school was considering reducing PE from 5 to 3 days a week, I became very disheartened. Since my children were school age, I have been a very active member of the Parent Teacher Organization, the Chamber of Commerce and the Student Health Advisory Council. For the past 4 years, I have successfully created collaborations that promote my cause. I now that we face the possibility that some of these resources will be taken away from our kiddos due to overcrowding in the schools, my soul sinks a little. I feel like our community as a whole agrees with me of the importance of keeping PE in the curriculum every day. We don't want to see the negative effects of not having PE now and in the future and not be able to undue this decision.
We feel like most of the teachers and principals really care about our children. My only frustration with the school district has been the way they keep parents at arms distance. I understand politics, professionalism and relationship boundaries but I feel like their tone towards parental and/or community involvement may be a little elitist. Let's face it, the administrators are intelligent people (socially and academically). They know the rules and they know how to play the game. They naturally have an advantage over most parents because they specialize in education and they definitely use their position to keep things as they like them. Sure, our schools will always comply with the basic, minimum legal responsibilities but who wants to be average? Why go way beyond what is expect from you if you aren't going to be compensated or appreciated for it?
Sure, we parents need to be supportive of our schools. However, like a business, schools have customers-----parents. And parents should be demanding excellent customer service for our children. We are in fact, paying teachers and administrators to serve our children. So, why aren't most parents in the U.S. demanding excellent customer service? I don't like paying for the minimum amount of effort in something so important as my child's foundation in life. I would never tolerate anyone else slacking off when taking care of my child (babysitters or relatives). I would set the standards and rules and if they didn't respect me, communicate with me and do as I wished, I would fire them. That's the bottom line.
One more thing, not all kids have a solid foundation with healthy resources at home. These kids rely on schools to get a meal or two, to get an education, to be taught right from wrong, to learn what love is. I know this to be true from my personal experiences as a child of divorce and neglect. I know this through my experiences working with at-risk children as a social worker, school psychologist and mental health counselor!!! We need to be the voice for these children. School might be their only chance to understand what normal and right are. School might be the only chance they get to succeed in America. That is a huge responsibility but I assume that is why teachers become teachers and principals become principals....because they actually care and want to make a difference----to help these children achieve their FULLEST POTENTIAL!