A Foundation for Lifelong Health and Fitness – Promoting Physical Activity in the Primary Years
25 March 2022
With the passing of each year and the pervasive impact of technology in our daily lives, the need for a vibrant and engaging physical education program in schools is increasingly apparent.
In earlier times the demands of everyday life necessitated daily physical activity and fitness development. People would need to be active in order to survive. They had to gather food and defend themselves. Palaeolithic societies, for example, used stone to make their tools so they could meet basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. The physical activity of such stone age people was therefore a major contributor to their ability to hunt for food, access water, build and maintain shelters, escape from predators and participate in social interaction. Since the industrial revolution, however, the number of jobs involving manual labour have gradually decreased, transport options have evolved so that we all have cars and the entertainment that was once found in playing sports and games or running and riding bikes has also undergone significant change. For many people living today the only physical exertion that needs to take place to earn a living is done with the push of a button, seated in front of a computer screen, using a mobile telephone, or climbing into a car. At the same time, entertainment in the modern era can be found on a television screen, computer, iPad, or mobile phone.
A major consequence of these changes has been that technological advances have seen a marked increase in the extent to which people lead sedentary lives. As a result, in order to maintain health and wellbeing, physical activity needs to be planned and embedded into daily routines. To foster this habit, students need to learn about the importance of being active. Schools have an important role in creating an environment that promotes a passion for being active, and develops strength and resilience, and a thirst for physical development and achievement from the early years right through to senior schooling.
Westbourne Grammar’s holistic approach to physical education in the primary years, is one which provides variety and a multitude of opportunities for being active. A key focus is to teach students to understand why physical activity is so important, and what changes occur in their bodies as a result of regular participation in sports and other physical activities. At the same time, the school’s comprehensive initiative focuses on providing students with a multitude of opportunities to be active and engaged.
Our physical education program includes a total of twenty different sports and activities from Prep through to Year 6. This is complemented with an optional tennis program which is facilitated by one of the most experienced coaches in Victoria. With access to a state-of-the-art Sports and Aquatic Centre, swimming is a key part of the curriculum. Students in Years 5 and 6 take part in an interschool sporting competition which aims to develop sporting skills in competitive environments, foster social and interpersonal skills and create long lasting friendships. Further to these programs, for those that excel at interschool carnivals the school offers coaching and training as a part of our swimming, cross country and athletics teams.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to be role models to our students and assist them to develop ways to optimise their overall wellbeing because ‘health and fitness is not about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.’
Head of Junior School Physical Education and Sport