“The days of developing gross and fine motor skills in children by letting them climb trees, and by helping them make kites are long gone,” said Michael Mthethwa, physical education specialist lecturer at the Embury Institute for Higher Education, Musgrave Campus.
“So too are games in the park, and walks on the beach, leaving a trail of digitally-focussed teenagers who otherwise get little or no exercise, or the skills and stamina to help keep them fit in later life,” he added.
Mthethwa also said there is a need to address this gap in teacher education between physical education and school sport that his institution developed and accredited their Advanced Diploma in Physical Education and School Sports (PESS).
“PESS is about equipping teachers with a NQF 7 real-world qualification that will up their game to the level of specialist,” said Mthethwa.
Parents today also all too well know the short-term physical impact that one too many sausage rolls at the school tuck-shop has on their children.
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From lethargy to diabetes and weight gain, most parents often try to balance their diet with veggies and take their children to parks to run around on Sundays, but is that really enough?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children and youth, aged five to 17, accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
By this estimate, it is clear that most children fall short of achieving this goal, although parents may consider them to be active.
WHO noted that for children and young people, physical activity includes play, games, sports, transportation, chores, recreation, physical education, or planned exercise, in the context of family, school, and community activities.
Given that schools play such a pivotal and transformative role in children’s lives, it is critical that they gear up the delivery of their PE programmes. Qualified specialist PE teachers could go a long way to narrowing the gap between our digitally focussed children and their physical needs.
Teachers who haven’t learned new principles of holistic and inclusive education can now be encouraged through these continuing professional teacher development programmes which offer critical interventions in ongoing teacher development.