Active Kids, Better Students
Recent studies show there is a link between kids being active and academic performance. The study was conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine and consisted of 214 middle school aged kids; results show a definite link between kids that were able to be physically active during the day and how well they performed in school. The kids were randomly selected and given a PE class, they were also monitored in subjects such as math, science, world studies and English. The study showed that the kids that were enrolled in PE class, which consisted of 30 minutes, 5 days a week, showed no change in their grades. However, kids that followed the governments Healthy People 2010 recommendation of vigorous activity for 20 minutes, at least 3 times a week, showed positive results. The kids were less bored, focused and they were able to concentrate better on their lessons. There were also improvements with the kid's behaviors.
One way for kids to participate in the recommendation of vigorous activity for 20 minutes, 3 times a week is by participating in organized sports. There are several to choose from, ranging from team soccer, football, basketball, etc. Participating in organized sports can encourage kids to be a team player, recognize structure and build self - confidence, all qualities that are helpful in the classroom. Parenting blogger, Kristin Chessman states that, "endurance sports have been proven to actually raise IQ, in addition to building confidence and teaching kids about emotional self-control". She also points out some traits that will help your kids succeed. Her list consist of the following topics, "How to get along with others (even those you don't like), Benefits of friendly competition, Creates future leaders, you win some, you lose some and Helps kids find their swagger". Each topic discusses great life lessons that you can discuss with your kids.
One of the biggest reasons I want to start the discussion of active kids, better students is because the tempo of our society is moving quickly away from old fashion outdoor games of duck duck goose and tick tack toe and turning kids towards Facebook, Twitter, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4. Many of our schools are challenged with diminishing funds to support PE classes and facility, some school have eliminated PE from their curriculum all together. Some statistics that I found state "...physical education in each grade decreases from approximately 50% in grades 1-5, to 25% in grade 8, to only 5% in grade 12. Daily participation in physical education among high school youth at the national level is 29.1%, and participation decline as students' progress through grades 9 (42.1%), 10 (30.4%), 11 (20.0%), and 12 (20.1%)" (Coe, Effects of Physical Education and Activity Levels on Academic Achievement in Children). I want to be a voice for our kids and support them physically and mentally so they can be the best they can be. These statistics should alert parents that we need to do something.
As a parent, I knew I wanted to know more about these numbers. So I took a closer look at the study. The participants in the study are from a single public school located in Michigan. It appears there's nothing out of the ordinary that stands out, the school is pretty average in respect to the location and demographics of the school. All of the students were given the opportunity to participate in the study. The results support the fact that the students that performed average PE class did not perform as well as the students that had vigorous activity for 3 days a week. The conclusion of the test determines that students need physical activity during the day to keep them from getting bored and helps them remain focused on their schoolwork. The research also encourages proper balance between activities is the key to success. When kids are allowed leisure and activity time, they seem to adjust well.
In an article published in USA Today, Nanci Hellmich states,"...a government review of research shows that kids who take breaks from their class work to be physically active during the day are often better able to concentrate on their school work and may do better on the standardized tests. She mimics the same concerns in regards to the reduction or elimination of PE classes in our schools due to tight budgets. With increasing financial demands on our public schools, I also believe this is a very big concern. I don't believe that those that cut back or eliminate the programs realize the detrimental effects of their actions. "Some short-sighted people thought that cutting back on time spent on physical education to spend more time drilling for tests would improve test scores," says Howell Wechsler, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But in fact there are a lot of studies that show that more time for PE and other physical activity help improve academic performance." He and his colleagues have studied multiple studies with similar results. The findings show that an increase in activity help with students concentration and attention span.
We now have to look ways to get these programs back in our kid's schools or find creative ways to advertise outside resources that are affordable to parents. Some schools have on campus afterschool programs that are offered to kids at either no cost to them or very little. There are also monthly PTA meetings, where parents and your schools facility meet to discuss concerns that you may have. This is a perfect forum to address the issue and come up with alternative options for kids to become more active and healthy. There are community fun runs, walks and bike rides to name a few. You can make as many suggestions as possible until one sticks. I think it takes just the right person being heard at the right time to sometimes get things moving in the right direction.
A blog that I came across titled, "MOVE! A blog about active living" provides an infograph to show the effects for active kids, learn better. The infograph provides statistics and photograph images of brain scans of kids that are physically active vs. those that are not. The visual evidence is amazing to see, as it shows dramatic differences in the brain scans. The scan that demonstrates two kids, both being observed for 23 minutes, one is sitting quietly and shows very little change in color on the scan. The kid that is observed walking has a scan that looks like a rainbow, it's full of color. They also take a look at performance levels in Math and English as well as standardized testing scores; all show improvement with physical activity. These are the types of evidence that parents can use to help support their efforts when presenting to PTA's or board member to convince them that this is a very real issue that needs to be addressed.
An extensive search for research revealed several articles in support of keep our kids active and the positive effects of doing so. An article by Dr. Mercola researches 14 studies that ranged in sizes as few as 50 to 12,000 participants. All of the studies observed students ages 6 to 18. According to the authors, "Physical activity and sports are generally promoted for their positive effect on children's physical health; regular participation in physical activity in childhood is associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk in youth and adulthood." The article goes on to discuss the benefits from physical and mental advantage. The research is remarkable and provides encouraging results for parents to consider.
Approximately six years ago, ABC News did a report on "Bikes, Balls in Class: How Phys Ed Transformed One School." The investigation into a high school located in west Chicago, Naperville Central High School. The school decided to do an experiment of their own. If a student was struggling in math or reading they had to attend gym class before attending those classes. In this school, gym is everywhere. With students having access to bikes and balls in every classroom; they encourage kids to keep moving as part of their daily curriculum. "Exercise, good fitness-based exercise, makes our brain more ready to learn," says John Ratey of the Harvard Medical School. The school has found something really special in their results. The schools reading scores were up nearly twice and math scores were up as well. It appears that this technique is working for the school and the kids are enjoying themselves. "All their brain cells are working", says Ratey, " And when their brain cells work, they pour out neuro transmitters, they also pour out brain growth factors which help our brain cells knit together. " There students are benefiting from their experiences and the experts are able to measure the program's success.
In 2002, The California Department of Education conducted a study on the topic of active kids, better students. The study focused on scores in relation to fitness and higher achievement academic testing for middle schooler, grades 7th through 9th. The study provided evidence that was "compelling" and showed the direct link between physical activities and the student's favorable performance on the tests. They found that the link between the two gave kids the advantage to learn at their best. "Young people are at particular risk for becoming sedentary as they grow older. Therefore, encouraging moderate and vigorous physical activity among youth is important..."(Healthy People 2010). I know for myself, I always feel better after I exercise. I feel like I can focus better and have clearer thought processes. I don't think I considered how much it affected my kids as well.
Efforts to get kids moving are everywhere. The campaign "Phit America" conducted four studies in the area of physical activity. The thing that I find the most interesting in their article is the fact that activities are not restricted to just sports. They look at the high percentage test scores for students in what they refer to as "Brain Rooms". These rooms are a major innovation in Charleston, SC, where they are being used in six elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. The "Brain Rooms" are where kids are constantly moving while they are learning. The kids are doing a variety of activities such as push-ups, sit-ups, walking on treadmills, sitting on balancing balls and working out on elliptical machines. "In the "Brain Rooms", we just exchanged desks," said David Spurlock, the coordinator for health, physical education, ROTC, athletics, and district wellness for the Charleston School District. "Instead of a static approach to learning, we are using a kinesthetic approach. We are proving that you must move to learn." In a state that has been recognized for their southern hospitality and southern cooking, the results are astounding. "The results speak for themselves," said Spurlock. "Physical activity truly enhances academic achievement, but it goes against the prevailing attitude in education which requires our students get more seat time." Spurlock knows that the more students move, the more they learn. The state has discovered a way to enhance low performing schools by copying their findings into low performing school districts to show very promising results. This is just another example that confirms the evidence is there.
I also looked at San Diego University's research project called Project SPARK, the acronyms stand for Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids. This program has been fighting against childhood obesity since 1989. The program is designed to work with specific age groups of kids, design a program that works for them as well as training their teachers and provide support. They are recognized for their efforts on a local, national and worldwide level. There website is full of testimonials and success stories all echoing the same statement, that there is a connection with kids that are active perform better in school. Dr. Sallis who is one of the projects co-founders received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition in 2011.
Many people may not know that NFL Quarterback Drew Brees is the Co-Chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. This organization was developed to raise awareness in regards to how important physical activity is to our kids. Drew discusses his own concerns as a parent for his two boys. His own career shows his kids how important it is to make healthy decisions and to stay active. Leading by example can be a very valuable asset to our kids. Drew states, "Today in America, nearly one in three children is overweight and one in six is considered obese." Something needs to be done about these types of issues. There are also concerns about the overall well-being of a child faces these types of issues from being bullied at school, poor performance in school and emotional issues. Parents need to address the issues and are looking for partners to help them along the way.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also noticed a need for a change. The First Lady created an initiation called "Let's Move" campaign as a result of her pediatrician pointing out some concerns. The goal of the campaign is to teach busy parents about some very real health concerns. First Lady Michelle Obama states, "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake". The truth is there are some very real health concerns that are affecting our kids today. Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise. As our nation has changed, so has our way of living. We no longer walk to school and rarely will you find kids playing outside. Parents have become busy with their schedules and rarely cook and serve meals at home. Our kids are suffering from our over indulgence of convenience.
The initiative that the First Lady launched is a solution to our challenge with childhood obesity and focuses on creating better choices and lifestyles for our kids. With putting a plan together, we will be able to help our kids stop some of the health concerns that they could be facing and start resolving the issues and focus on their futures. This plan contains comprehensive strategies that are easy to follow. It gives parents the information that they need to make informed decisions when it comes to their kid's health. We know that it takes everyone's support to be successful; the plan is simple to follow and easy to understand. Some of the changes that I first noticed with the initiative were the effects that it had on my kids' school. No longer were they able to go to the vending machine and select a soda and a candy bar. Our schools were encouraged to remove the vending machines or update them with healthy choices. President Obama created a special task force specifically assigned to supporting the First Lady's initiative. With the support of the White House, the initiative is moving in the right direction. The goal is to help our kid's future, making sure that they have better opportunities for growth and going to college.
Every kid should be thinking about their future and the benefits of a college education. There are student athletes that are given the opportunity to attend college based on their athletic and academic performance. Currently there are only six NCAA sports where kids can earn a full ride scholarship. They are broken into two categories, Men's Sports, which include Football and Basketball, and Women's sports, Basketball, Tennis, Gymnastics and Volleyball. A full ride grants the student the opportunity to attend the University for free as long as the student continues to perform well with their studies. The scholarships are based on the schools ability to afford them. In some instances, the full ride will consist of your 4 years at the University, room and board and sometimes your books are covered as well. This luxury is afforded to students that perform well on their ACT, SATs and have higher grade point averages than most. For some kids that would not be able to attend college otherwise, these opportunities are life changers for them. With so many student athletes competing for these scholarships, your kids should feel very proud of themselves if they are chosen for their efforts.
Our kids need our support to encourage healthy living and active lifestyle. You may be considering participating in a team or are just curious about how to start your kid in a program. There are multiple places that you can start your journey. A lot of local cities have city ran programs that are affordable and sometimes advertised at your children's schools. There are also YMCA locations that hold many different levels of classes and many different sports. If you are thinking that you would like to be in a more specialized league, there are many to choose from as well. Depending on the sport itself, there are multiple club leagues that play year round. AYSL, NYSL, Pop Warner and AAU are a few of the well-known leagues that are recognized for their athletes and their principals. Most of the leagues require their players to maintain a specific grade point average in order to participate in games. This can be an extra motivator for your kids.
By allowing your kids to become engaged in a team, we can encourage kids and create a sense of responsibility and accountability. I have student athletes that I'm raising, my daughter that is 13 years old; she plays competitive club basketball as well as school basketball. I also have a 15 year old son that plays competitive football. They both enjoy and understand their roles on their teams and in our family. We have encouraged them to participate in the sports of their choice with the understanding that school comes first. We talk a lot about balancing their responsibilities and knowing when we need to talk about concerns that come up. I interviewed my son and he revealed that he "felt focused" after working out. I figured if I get this type of response from allowing them to participate in sports, we must be doing the right thing as parents.
With anything that you do, you have to know that there may be some obstacles in the road along your journey. Not every parent will feel the way that you do and that's ok. I want to inform parents that are having the discussions with their kids about possibly joining a team and provide them with my point of view. There are some experts that believe that competitive sports are not best for kids. For example, they believe that kids that participate on an organized sports team tend to become bullies or are aggressive towards other kids. Parents may feel pressure to raise high - achieving kids, who are supposed to be good at everything. Then there is an expressed concern that school and sports will take away from family time. There are also some parents that are living vicariously through their kid's experience. Author and spokesman John O'Sullivan believes that youth sports aren't quite what they should be. He believes that youth sports are, "...adult driven, hyper competitive race to the top in both academics and athletics that serves the needs of the adults, but rarely the kids". I disagree with his point of view and I believe that his article and movie are very one sided.
I understand that sometimes sports aren't great experiences for kids and they may feel resentful towards their parents for even allowing them to try. However, I believe that if you're having discussions with your kids about the experience, you as a parent should be assessing the experience. No one knows your kids better than you do. If you're kids are having a difficult time in school or at home, being active may help kids express themselves. Sometimes just having a parent support the effort that your kid is making within a sport is a vital key. With anything that your kids participate in, they want the reassurance that you are there for them.
Parents have a lot to learn from this process through research and speaking with other parents that are dealing with the same challenges. It's not easy making decisions for your kids; I hope that this information will ease some of your concerns. I know that my research has opened my eyes to the full benefits of keeping my kids active in order for them to achieve their educational goals. I hope that my efforts will warrant conversations around this subject as I feel that the issue is very real and it should be discussed within families. Taking all of my findings into consideration, I think that I have made the right choice for my kids and hope that parents will be open to the idea of supporting their kid's healthy futures.
Brees, Drew. "Active Kids Do Better." President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. 6 June 2014. Web. 11 February 2016.
Nichols, Nicole. "Active Kids Do Better in School." Sparkle People, n.d. Web. 6 February 2016.
Wright, David and Siegel, Hanna. "Bikes, Balls in Class: How Phys Ed Transformed One School. " ABC News. 14 April 2010. Web. 11 February 2016.
Kane, Jason, Chanoine, Saskia. "As Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Push Turns 2, it's Time for a Check Up." PBS Newshour the Rundown. 9 February 2012. Web. 6 February 2016.
Sallis, James F., McKenzie, Thomas L., Kolody, Bohdan, Lewis, Michael, Marshall, Simon, Rosengard, Paul. "Effects of Health - Related Physical Education on Academic Achievement: Project SPARK". Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1999. Vol. 70, No. 2, pp.127 - 134. Web. 6 February 2016.
Coe, Dawn Podulka, Pivarnik, James M., Womak, Christopher J., Reeves, Matthew J. and Malina, Robert M. "Effects of Physical Education and Activity Levels on Academic Achievement in Children". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2006. Web. 11 February 2016.
"Four Breakthrough Studies: Physical Activity Reaps Report Card Results." PHIT America. 18 July 2013. Web. 11 February 2016.
Spoon, Chad. "Infographic: Active Kids Learn Better." Move! A Blog About Active Living. 28 January 2015. Web. 11 February 2016.
"Let' Move - America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids." Let's Move.gov. n.d. Web. 11 February 2016.
"Physically Active Kids Are Better Learners." The California Department of Education. 2002. Web. 11 February 2016.
Price-Mitchell, Marilyn. "Playing the Game; The Truth About Youth Sports". Roots of Action. n.d. Web. 6 February 2016.
"Spark - Countering Childhood Obesity since 1989." Sparkecademy.org.n.d. Web. 11 February 2016.
Hellmich, Nanci. "Study: Physical activity can boost student performance." USA Today. April 14, 2010. Web. 11 February 2016.
O' Sullivan, John. "The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports." Changing the Game Project. n.d. Web. 6 February 2016
O'Shaughnessy, Lynn. "Where the Full Ride Sports Scholarships Are". The College Solution in Money, Scholarship. 25 January 2013. Web. 6 February 2016.
The areas that I feel could have been stronger in my essay would be my choice of topic. It feels like the topic is not precise enough. There was a lot of information, almost too much information available to focus on my main objective. I also feel that sometimes I overwrite my main idea. I also struggle with correct citing, I tried very hard to ensure that I followed the guidelines; I get a little confused when there are multiple authors or quotes in text from other authors. One other area I sometimes struggled with was my transitions. I want to be sure that my paragraphs led into each other smoothly and there were areas that I thought I could have done a better job with that