Dirty Secret School Administrators Don’t Want Parents to Know

Remember the days when you had recess in the morning and either at lunchtime or in the afternoon?  You ran around with your friends, sometimes played games or sometimes played on whatever equipment was on the playground.  Besides us as kids getting a break, the teachers got a break also from standing in front of the class and trying to educate while making sure nobody misbehaved.  Aside from “the bad kid” most days everyone got along and class ran smoothly.

Fast forward to today’s culture of low to no opportunities for physical activity in most schools.  Kids are in class longer, no recess or playtime even at lunch, and a lot more homework than adults ever remember in elementary and junior high.  In fact, taking away recess and PE are now punishments which end up being inflicted upon the teacher because now kids are more riled up and harder to handle.  Now add in the waivers and ease of getting out of PE for worthless reasons like “my child gets out of breath when running.”  Really?  No kidding, what an update.  Maybe your child needs to run in addition to you, Mr. & Mrs. Overweight Parent.

Where does this culture start?  At the top of the food chain, like any other company and organization.  The attitudes of principals and administrators on physical activity and education plays a direct role in how much your child gets daily and weekly.  When was the last time your school’s principal or administrator truly got out and observed PE like they do for math, science, and language arts?  PE teachers need accountability and steps for improvement like all other subjects.  Rolling the ball out and making kids stand in line doesn’t teach them physical education.  It’s recess and lack of caring by the top down.  As parents, you have the right to have PE actually teach something to your children.

What’s the dirty secret all these educational experts don’t want you to know?

Physical activity and true physical education make your kids smarter!

Don’t believe me?  Maybe Harvard Medical School can convince you.

Yep, that’s right.  Getting out of the classroom to move around reduces behavior problems and helps their brains to grow.  Inflicting endless hours of homework and more classroom time hasn’t done us the good they promised decades ago.  The result is higher obesity, higher healthcare costs, lazier society with entitlement, and more “psychological” problems.  All of this can be reduced or eliminated with some fun and movement.  But SSSHHHHHHH don’t tell school administrators this. They still think higher test scores come from Common Core.

Don’t be too hard on them though.  They just need some light shared on the benefits of physical activity and physical education.  Help them by letting companies like Movement Academy shed light on the subject.  In the end everyone truly does win by moving around more.  The conclusion, be vocal with your school leaders to ensure they are maximizing physical activity and physical education.  Let us help you, email us at info@movementacademy.net.

#thoughtfulthursday #education #teacher #school #parents

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Quitting Sports at 13

#workoutwednesday #wellnesswednesday

Turning 13 is a big deal for kids.  They begin the true coming of age process and their bodies start wholesale changes mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Each child is different on when they start this maturation process as it doesn’t happen the day they turn 13.  With these changes comes more desire for independence and a stronger focus on what a child likes to do for fun, hobbies, and sports.  While all these changes are new and exciting for the child, they are not always so for parents.

Follow the story, your child plays soccer and basketball and has for the past 3 years in each sport.  He or she is above average, has friends they hangout with in both sports, appears to enjoy practices and games,  and is free from major injury. One day your child walks into the kitchen and announces they are done playing both sports.  You are confused and maybe angry about this choice and ask why.  The answer of “I’m just tired of it,” doesn’t satisfy you and you press on for a reason.  Your pressing meets with more roadblocks then a final, loud expression of anger by your child and he or she stomps away to their room.  You are still standing there dumbstruck and powerless, wondering what just happened and why.

Many sources report a 70% dropout rate of kids who quit sports at 13.  This is not a new topic, but still one that continues to hold interest of parents, coaches, and teachers.  In addition, there is not a single source problem or solution.  One aspect that we at Movement Academy address is teaching sports specific skills to soon in a child’s physical development.  We believe in the long term athletic development philosophy of teaching fundamental movement skills to ALL youth until the pubescent growth curve.  The rationale is giving kids a stronger base of confidence and support in being athletic for life, not just playing a high level of competition in one sport.  The Canadian Sport for Life model is the best worldwide model of this.

The financial impact of youth sports is now a multi billion dollar industry, and not especially regulated with a child’s health & safety as a primary goal.  Parents pay 10% and sometimes more of their income for their 10 year old to travel every weekend and practice 4 nights a week for up to 2 hours per practice.  While no science states this specialization at an early age makes children better, it certainly generates more revenue of which sports teams and clubs are not about to give up. Youth sports is now “Keeping up with the Joneses,” and the short intense rush ends up to be a long slow burn.  The enjoyment and fun is too quickly replaced by the win now at all costs.

Wouldn’t it be great to have more recreational sports available till the age of at least 16?  How much healthier would our society be with more kids being active for more years?  Yes, winning and losing are important lessons to learn, this is not about the “participation trophy.”  Instead, it’s about helping youth maintain a physically fit lifestyle where they can have fun playing sports they enjoy, even though they are not the top talent.  Remember, less than 5% of kids get D1 scholarships.  Sure, make wins and losses count, while continuing all the intangibles sports provide, just on a less win or die trying system.  Lots of adult leagues exist in a variety of sports, no need to make a person wait 10-15 years before doing something they truly love again.

The sad truth is money makes the world go round, and this trend of sports specialization from the womb to feed someone’s wallet isn’t stopping soon.  Parents, keep kids in multiple sports for their entire youth and make sure they are physically literate.  You are the frontline and decide if Coach Joe Knowitall gets to coach your child.  Encourage the fun and give your kids proper fundamental training before they go all in on something.  You were once 10, and have memories of what made you love being on the field or court.  Help your kids make those memories last longer and for a lifetime of being fit and active.

If you don’t agree or want to give support, contact Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com.  He wants to hear from you.  Also check out his company Movement Academy.

 

Educating the Physical Educator

Professional development is a standard part of being a teacher.  While in school, I thought teacher in service days were awesome because I got a day off and the teachers really didn’t do anything worthwhile and also had a similar vacation day. Fast forward to now, my company, Movement Academy, puts on professional development seminars for PE teachers.  In reality, the teachers don’t have a full day off and hopefully learn a few valuable lessons to make them more effective.

To date, we have conducted seminars throughout Louisiana and in the Birmingham, AL, area.  One alarming issue is consistent, physical education teachers do not receive the same professional development attention as STEM and core subject teachers.  PE teachers unfortunately are viewed as elective instructors and not necessary for ongoing new learning.  Many school districts we talk too do not have dedicated professional development for PE, instead lumping them in with other elective courses or forcing them to scavenge for something they can talk about.  Last time I checked, childhood obesity and inactivity is still an issue talked about on the news, but school boards like to dodge the issue and not give their teachers and coaches anything consistent to combat the problem.

PE teachers thirst for knowledge to keep their classes interesting and renew their personal “why” just like other teachers.  To prevent “roll the ball out”mentality that is too prevalent, school boards have to invest the same attention and money into true physical education.  Where can it start, with parents who take an active interest in their child’s physical health besides their ability to read and write.  Obese and inactive children become obese and inactive adults that are out of work more, and cost more money from insurance companies and employers to keep around.  Where does it start, in PE every day and week.  Unlike subject specific teachers, PE teachers and coaches teach EVERY child in the school and sometimes EVERY year depending on school size.  Yet why are they being neglected to improve their skills and abilities to make an impact on the most important aspect of living, our health!

 

The common theme to why PE is treated like a step child is due to no standardized testing.  States and school districts leave the how and what to test up to individual teachers.  Human nature is to follow the path of least resistance, so with nothing definite to hold people accountable, what do you think is the outcome?  It’s the 80/20 rule, 20% of the PE teachers really care and do 80% of the push to improve their skills.  Nobody will admit to it, but I promise if a secret camera could be used to show what is done in PE, the 80/20 rule is 100% in effect.  Superintendents, administrators, principals, state leaders, start showing PE teachers and coaches love by providing regular and dedicated professional development.  EVERYONE BENEFITS!!

 

Physical literacy is the same as reading literacy, it must be taught and nurtured to grow strong and have a true appreciation for a lifetime.  Please contact me regardless of where you live, to start a wave of professional development for physical educators.  If you are in a leadership position, I challenge you to start this month with your PE teachers.  Email me, Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com, and I will help you get started.

#thursdaythoughts #thankfulthursday

 

Being on the Frontline of Childhood Obesity

#motivationmonday #childhoodobesity #parents #obesity

Childhood obesity is not a new topic.  It’s talked about on the news, internet, and in print media.  Like a lot of issues, people like to think it does not apply to their family, students, or children.  The fact is the opposite.  It is everyone’s responsibility to teach healthy habits to our youth.  Kids learn how to eat and lead a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle from parents and teachers.  In giving seminars to PE teachers, we stress the importance of being the fitness and health role model just like math, social studies, and science teachers are the role models for those subjects.  The role of PE teachers is changing from a sport coach to a group fitness instructor.  Look at the PE standards coming out on a national and state level.  They don’t emphasize teach kids how to play football, baseball, basketball, and soccer.  Instead the standards emphasize movement and all around fitness.  Remember, only .5% of youth who play sports actually make a living at it on a professional level.  What about the 99.5% of us who have to get real jobs and figure out how to eat and exercise on our own?

The only way childhood obesity can be reduced and eliminated is by being the role model as parents and teachers for healthy, active lifestyle.  It’s ok to enjoy vegging on the couch and having dessert/sweet treats, just not on a daily basis.  Nobody wins when the whole family is sluggish, overweight, and inactive.  PE teachers, are you active and making overall good choices to show your students?  Can you perform the movements properly in teaching your classes?  If a math teacher doesn’t know their long division, they do not stay math teachers long.  If a PE teacher cannot demonstrate movements and be healthy, there is no penalty.  That doesn’t seem right.

Children do not pay for food and put it in the grocery cart.  Children also do not get paid to teach physical education and teach healthy habits.  It does not take drastic changes, just small ones on a daily basis.  Do not buy those cookies this week, instead buy fresh fruit.  Set aside 20 minutes to get your own exercise in twice this week.  Small changes lead to larger changes in time.  Start small and work your way into big, the brain and body will guide you automatically.  Your kids will thank you, I promise!

Can Exercise Improve the Mood of Hormonal Teens?

#workoutwednesday #wellnesswednesday

I am the father of a teenager.  It’s almost like being part of a recovery group for those that have or had teens.  They are moody, stubborn, and know-it-alls.  Sometimes, we think they aren’t even human.  So besides sending them to an island or planet far away from the rest of normal humanity, what can be done to keep the rest of us from wanting to strangle them?  Could exercise help, at least a little?

Believe it or not, the teenage brain functions from the same hormones and mechanoreceptors as an adult brain.  Be it their hormones are raging at a completely different level, they are the same hormones as adults.  When humans exercise, endorphins are released to make us feel good and reduce our perception of pain.  “Runners high” is an example of this feeling.  Our attitudes are more positive and outlook on life for a little bit is much better.  Self esteem improves and our physical appearance is more pleasing to ourselves usually also.  According to WebMD, exercise can be a treatment for depression.  So maybe we should just tell our teenagers to get around the block a few times!

What exercise should hormonal teens do?  If you ask them, their answer is only something that involves texting or watching YouTube.  Obviously we are getting away from that, so the answer is something they can enjoy and sustain enjoyment. It doesn’t have to be high intensity constant motion for 60 minutes.  Going on bike rides and hikes are still fun activities for all ages.  We are all in much better moods after exercising in groups, so make socialization a part of it.  For some teens, poor body image and self esteem prevent them from being more socially active.  Exercising with them can ease their fears and a possible change in their physical appearance is the welcome side effect they are looking for.  When you do physical activity outside, a whole world of additional benefits opens up also from stimulating all of the senses too.

Before we stick them on that rocket to space and ship to the deserted island, let’s encourage our teens by being active with them.  It may not hurt us to lose a few pounds and step away from the devices either.  Consult a doctor if serious depression or suicidal thoughts occur.  For the “normal” raging teen, maybe tiring them out outside like we used to do when they were small, can still be a good strategy.

 

If you have any other strategies for dealing with teens, please share them with Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com, so he can help other parents not strangle their teens!

 

Get More Kids Involved in PE This Year

I was always the kid who raised their hand and wanted to be picked first to play any game in PE.  Those that didn’t, I never understood why they showed no interest and ran away practically.  Years and a 15 year old son later who is not an athlete, I know the benefits involved with overall physical development compared to only playing sports in PE.  The unfortunate reality is teachers and coaches give more attention the the kids in PE who want to play sports.  Why?  Because teachers and coaches are human, and humans gravitate toward people with common interests.  So how do we make a positive impact on childhood obesity and get the kids who aren’t interested in playing sports to participate?  The answer is long term athletic develoment.

SHAPE America has developed standards around physical literacy that teach movement fundamentals before sports and sports specific skills.  Not all states subscribe to this philosophy for PE, and with PE not a typically state tested subject, the initiative to get more kids involved is left to each individual teacher.  Besides physical literacy and long term athletic development being a NATIONAL guideline, it really does make sense to including all students and not just the sports & active minded ones.  Every child needs to learn how to control both sides of their body in a variety of environments.  Whether they are in a pool, on a field, on the ice/snow, or in the air like gymnastics; controlling your body and having confidence in the related movements creates a healthier child.  Less than 1% of kids become professional athletes, 99% of the population has to maintain their health as an adult to pay the bills and care for their families.  Teaching healthy movements that lead to lifetime skills benefits everyone.

Part of what my company Movement Academy does, is give professional development seminars on LTAD to PE teachers.  Our goal is to educate the educator so they can lay the foundation for a healthier and more active next generation.  To have this goal occur, more education and accountability is needed. Test scores that reflect a knowledge of movement and not just participation are necessary to hold both students and teachers accountable.  Talk to your teacher, principal, school board, and state leaders to make PE accountable not optional.  The only negatives are reduced obesity, stroke, and heart disease in children and future adults.  Learning movement before sports is the key to improving participation in PE and changing our next generation of adults.

 

Contact Matt Peale, who is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, at mpeale@ltmacademy.com, for any questions and comments.

 

 

Exercise Prescription for ADD/ADHD?

So your child has ADHD or you have ADD, yes really not just because friends make fun of you.  You all know the kid who has problems in school and when he or she does not take their medications.  But what if there is something more natural and without negative side effects?  Turns out old reliable exercise can help kids and adults with ADD/ADHD manage the symptoms.  As always, consult your personal doctor for what is best, but imagine the only side effect is a stronger and healthier body!

American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders

ADHD in simple language is the brain’s neurons in the attention system not communicating consistently to each other.  Sometimes the messages come across whole, sometimes they do not at all or have been partially chopped off.  A study in the Journal of Attention Disorders showed that doing moderate to vigorous intensity exercise forty-five minutes a day, three times a week, for ten weeks improved cognitive function and behavior in children with ADHD. The reasoning behind this improvement is that exercise can help the growth of new nerve cells. Children are constantly developing physically and mentally, which are times when neuroplasticity is also at its height.  Learning new functions requires the brain to build new neural pathways which can help the lapses in the attention system improve.

Does a child need to run a marathon, play soccer, or weight lift?  Dr. Michael Lara suggests challenging activities like martial arts, rock climbing, and ice skating are better than just aerobic exercise.  The complex movements activate various areas in the brain associated with balance & stability, endurance, and coordination.  Have you ever stood on one leg and reached down to touch your toes?  Easy at is sounds, many people fall over doing it.  The ADHD brain has a need for structure, variety, incorporating new skills, and a way to measure results.  Talk to a professional and determine what activities make sense for your child’s age and development level.  In some cases, medications have become more effective with exercise and/or replaced based on a doctor’s approval.

 

Check out www.movementacademy.net and their web based program that may help your child improve.  Contact Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com for any questions.  Remember, exercise has so many more benefits than physical and costs generally nothing.  Give it a try!