We’ve Come a Long Way From Only
today are more sophisticated than we were at their age. They
have more choices to make in just about everything. One of
the things parents and schools can help students choose is
to make physical fitness a priority in their lives.
Physical education class
in school is no longer a time when the students get tossed
a few balls so they can hurl them at one another for a game
of dodge ball or over a net for volleyball. In Syosset, our
middle school students have a program called Fitness Fridays.
The class is set up in various stations for activities that
promote muscle strengthening, aerobic exercise, agility building,
and also allow for flexibility, creativity, and of course,
fun. After a minute at each station, the students rotate
to the next one—very much like the
30-minute workout centers for women that have become so popular.
I recently observed one of these classes, and saw that the
students were genuinely interested in keeping their bodies
fit, and were gaining self confidence as they recognized their
own personal improvement as they went from station to station.
In addition, the teacher explained to them the benefits of
the individual activities. They learned the importance of cardiovascular
workouts and why they needed to make exercise and fitness a
lifelong practice. This is perhaps the component of physical
education that has been missing for so long. Instead of simply
engaging in exercise or learning a sport, the students are
being informed on just why these physical activities are important,
and how they can use what they learn in school outside of class
and for the rest of their lives.
Summer is almost here,
and with it our children have more choices to make. Will
they stay in the air-conditioned den and play video games
or surf the web, or will they choose a more physical activity—ride
a bicycle, take a walk, swim, or play a sport? This summer,
physical education will be up to you, and you can make it
a family affair.
Serving as a role model
in valuing fitness and putting in the physical effort to
keep your body strong is important if you want your children
to take physical fitness seriously. However, the good news
is that it doesn’t
require you to drastically alter your lifestyle.
Students are learning
that just three 30-minute workouts per week will be very
beneficial to maintaining a healthy body and cardiovascular
system. Find a routine that best suits your children and
you and schedule it at a time that does not interfere with
anything your children will see as a higher priority. If
you’re planning outdoor activity,
make it either before or after the midday sun.
This summer, I hope
you will try to make physical fitness a part of your family’s lives. It’s
a choice that we all know is for the best.#
Dr. Hankin is Superintendent of Syosset Central
School District. Randi Sachs is Public Information Officer
of Syosset Schools.