Academic journal article Journal of School Health

The Moving Children Project: A Conceptual, Process-Oriented Model for Skills Development in Children

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

The Moving Children Project: A Conceptual, Process-Oriented Model for Skills Development in Children

Article excerpt

The Coordinated School Health Program (CSHP) is a collaborative effort of four public school districts, a local hospital district, and a private, community-based nonprofit agency. South Bay Hospital District of Redondo Beach, Calif., has funded the program, and since 1984, CSHP has provided a mix of acute services such as school nurses and health aides, health education special events such as activity-based Balanced Life and Fitness Fairs adapted for elementary, junior high, and high schools, and classroom instruction or direct services to students and inservice training for teachers.

A national trend toward inactivity exists among the nation's youth. (1,2) Parents of today's children often are in better physical shape than their sons and daughters. This trend is aggravated by an absence of daily physical education classes at the elementary level and lack of properly qualified physical education specialists. (3) In California, where less than 5% of elementary schools employ physical education specialists, teachers with little or no physical education coursework are responsible for teaching elementary students about movement education. (4,5)

A recent study which compared the methods classroom teachers and physical education specialists used to conduct physical activity programs found classroom teachers emphasized game-type activities with minimal opportunity to engage in skill practice or fitness-related activities. (6) In contrast, physical education specialists placed greater emphasis on activities related to skill practice. When classroom teachers work in collaboration with physical education specialists, improved scores in both motor and physical fitness measures were observed. The realities of financing public education today dictates that alternative methods be found to assist classroom teachers in conducting effective physical education instructional programs.

The Moving Children: Healthy Children (Moving Children) Project is a multidimensional conceptual model that provides information, builds skills, and supports positive attitudes about wellness and physical activity for elementary students. Four core concepts guide the selection and sequencing of developmentally appropriate lessons. Instructors use age-appropriate lessons that build movement skills while incorporating mental and social concepts into the activities to promote a sense of personal well-being. This approach motivates children to enhance their level of fitness skill development while promoting cooperation and personal health. (7)

Central to the design of the program is a conceptual approach which uses a sequence and progression of lessons for skill development, thereby continually adding to a child's learning foundation. By using proper sequencing and progression of lessons and because learning is associative, children can enhance their performance in one concept area by applying information and skills from the previous area. (8,9) Children who experience an instructional program organized around clearly defined concepts can offer multiple solutions to movement problems by citing the presence of the concept characteristics. (10)

The concept approach to learning provides an enriched environment for children and frequently results in novel ways of assimilating informational content and, thus, may result in a higher level of competence." This article focuses on the Moving Children model; other articles will describe and address implementation strategies.

OVERVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONAL PROCESS

Physical education curricula is usually organized according to four basic models: (12) traditional, unit, integrated, and movement. The traditional model is an activity-centered curriculum composed of activities associated with elementary physical education: games and sports, dance, and individual activities. Examples include team handball, round dances, and jump rope. This approach does not integrate knowledge or concepts but teaches each activity as separate and unrelated courses of study. …

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