Elevating the Benefits of Physical Activity for Kids and Teachers at Vaughan Elementary
When it comes to physical activity at Vaughan Elementary, the number one priority for teachers is to make it fun and enjoyable. “Our Physical Education teacher, Cory Newsome, is great at getting our students excited about physical fitness. His number one goal is for all of the kids to learn to enjoy physical fitness. If they learn that physical fitness is fun, they are more likely to continue as an adult,” said Lori Hoenig, Vaughan Elementary PTSA Health & Wellness Chairperson.
Coach Newsome strives to make the PE environment a positive place and never uses exercise as a punishment. In his class, students play games that keep them moving the entire time. Coach Newsome has the kids participate in the physical fitness exercises to measure their growth during the school year on flexibility, endurance and strength. Students enjoy competing against each other as well as trying to outperform their own score. Teachers also incorporate physical activity into the classroom by taking brain breaks during the day and let the kids have a dance party in the classroom. Sometimes, the entire school has a spontaneous dance party where all kids and teachers are encouraged to get up and move.
Since students at Vaughan were already fired up about being active thanks to Coach Newsome, Caughan’s PTSA figured that the Fire Up Your Feet Activity Challenge would be a great fit. “Initially, Vaughan Elementary got involved with Fire Up Your Feet in hopes that submitting our physical activity minutes would win some fundraising money to help us toward some of our PTSA Health & Wellness goals. We quickly realized this was a way to encourage our teachers to get the kids moving more during the day!” said Ms. Hoenig.
Classrooms at all grade levels got involved in creative ways. One grade level planned out lesson plans to include musical math, content movement and other ways to get kids on their feet. The teachers realized how important it is for kids to be able to move often, stimulating their brains to more active learning. “We had our teachers fill out a weekly activity log where they indicated recess time, classroom exercising, Walking Wednesdays, Three-Lap Thursdays and brain breaks. We also encouraged families to track sporting events, practices, playing outside, etc,” said Ms. Hoenig.
Even though Vaughan teachers and students were already well versed about the importance of being physically active, the Challenge helped them become more aware of their daily physical activity habits.
“I think it really helped those that tracked their activity realize how much they do that can be considered exercise, and it encouraged teachers to take advantage of recess time. Sometimes, I hear students complain that they don’t get enough recess time. I know our teachers are hard-pressed sometimes to get in all of the content to fulfill the lesson plans and meet the state requirements. But it is so hard for students (and adults too) to sit still and stay focused for hours upon hours. I know during the spring challenge, several teachers took extended recess times to help the kids blow off energy during the standardized testing period. It is great for the students, which in turn is great for the teachers,” said Ms. Hoenig.
Way to go, Vaughan Elementary and congratulations on winning second place in the Spring Activity Challenge!