What do you think health looks like? More importantly what do our kids think health looks like or a healthy body? Well the results may surprise you as I share the unique view of some students in today’s schools.
Current View on Health
As our world is intrigued and embedded within a health awareness whirlwind and an overwhelming amount of versions of health, fitness via the internet and social medias. Are we truly finding our best health and is it helping or hindering our children?
Today as I teach our Health and Physical Education Unit : focusing on health and our food to the year 4 cohort; I continue to ask the same questions I have asked 14 years running to see if there are changes in these children and if our health view is improving.
The Unit Descriptors
Over the course of the unit we discuss and look at the body system we focus on the digestive system. We took a tour of the body systems naming the body parts and finding our how food travels and fuel’s our bodies.
Results of Discussion
Many children had no idea what happened to food after it went into their mouth as it had never been discussed. We discussed the stomach acids and how the pancreas and liver help us stay clean and how the villi sorts and filters the healthy from the unhealthy.
We discuss stomach size and the portions of food and how many of the children over eat as they look with shocked faces.
The focus of the unit is ‘the good of our bodies’ and finding out how food fuels us. We discuss and ask questions of what is good (healthy) food identifying their qualities even completing a taste test. It is NOT a ‘anti-food campaign’ which is or ‘a diet campaign’ which both types of discussion damages our children’s view of food. It is a positive way of looking at our food as a lifestyle and giving children the knowledge to value their own health and how to create food.
As the unit had developed I wanted to share with the students 3 questions and also for them to define their personal view of what is healthy? Ask yourself these questions too.
What does healthy look like? To you.
What does healthy feel like? To you.
Who do you think is healthy?
The 154 – Year 4 students today these exact question and the answers will astound you.
Clip below of :
Firstly their view of ‘what health looks like?’
They stated it looked like strong muscles, fit, not too muscly and not to skinny.
‘What does health feel like?’
Happy, energetic, smart, fresh, mood was good and could do more things in life.
Some answers that the children has stated include abdominals we were surprised and almost shocked by this though and we redirected their thought to share the health of some of our staff. The differences in our looks and abilities. We have a very good mountain biker but he looks different to the surfer, we have excellent hockey player but she looks different to me. The children actually had no idea of some of the abilities of our staff and also the nature at which our bodies change and develop to help us in our very own unique sport.
One fact we did discuss quite heavily was that ‘big muscles’ and ‘body building’ are actually not healthy bodies and we discussed the biggest implication and some of the ways at which these people become this way. If we ask many of these body building athletes they will tell you the tremendous strain put upon their bodies to compete. I believe we need to talk about this and show our children the real facts. Even marathon runner have an enormous strain on their bodies. We shared how having a balanced knowledge of well being and health is a more effective way of staying mobile longer.
Role Models of Health
We discussed athletes, famous people and we discussed our teaching staff. We picked apart each staff member as we all look very different in shape and size. This was to establish that our best health sometimes does not come in what we look like.
The children then shared that the main people they look up to are family members; Mum an Dad, Aunties and Uncles, cousins and grandparents. Many discussed the disappointment in some of their family members not being healthy and wishing they were. This particular aspect creating an sadness in amongst the children and teachers. Our goal as parents and educators is to give every child an opportunity to have a role model. We as parent really need to be aware of this fact. Our children look up to us for every facet of life. For health knowledge; they need us to be their model of fitness, their model of how to eat, how to function, how to find happiness and how to be positive.
Food Taste Test
To finish the day we had a huge celebration of plant foods including and enormous long table of raw and fruits and vegetable and plant based products of sweet and savoury. It was a success and the children tested the texture of every type of in season plant food.
I must say this is my favourite unit and the students found a new appreciation of their bodies and it’s ability.
Health and Happiness always,