How Can Schools Help Manage Chronic Health Problems?

Child with Crutches

With the percentage of children diagnosed with chronic health conditions on the rise, schools must be actively involved in helping manage these conditions, which often include asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, as well as mental/ emotional conditions, including ADHD. By taking a coordinated and systematic approach to both these students’ education and illness to ensure their needs are met, these students have the ability to reach their maximum potential. Here’s a quick look at five things a school can do to ensure this happens.
 

1. Provide training programs for staff.

School Teacher

All school employees should have a basic understanding of any exceptional student health conditions. There should be information on the child’s condition, necessary precautions, and what emergency actions to take, such as what to do if a seizure occurs or how to administer medications.

2. Offer home bound instruction when warranted.

Currently, no law specifically requires schools to provide home bound instructions to students who are unable to attend school. Unfortunately, this leaves chronically ill students at a disadvantage by setting them up to quickly fall behind. By providing an instructor, or at the very least arranging for assignments via email and online chats/ Skyping with teachers or an entire class, these students can stay caught up in the classroom.

3. Make reasonable accommodations readily available.

Identifying and implementing specific reasonable accommodations that will make it easier for the student to excel in the classroom is crucial. This could be as simple as allowing a student with scoliosis to keep a set of books in the classroom and at home to avoid the strain of carrying them back and forth. Or giving a child with chronic gastrointestinal issues a permanent hall pass that can be used to go to the restroom without waiting to ask for the teacher’s permission. For children with ADHD, this could involve allowing extra time to finish tests, while students with a compromised immune system should be allowed to switch seats if a nearby student shows signs of an illness.

4. Develop and implement an Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.

An IEP, Individual Education Program, outlines customized learning strategies and goals for the chronically ill student. It can define any support services he or she needs to reach their milestones, such as a qualified tutor. Created by teachers, counselors, and school psychologists, usually with parental input, this may include providing additional time for projects or providing special education services when deemed necessary. A 504 Plan specifies any physical accommodations needed to help the student navigate around the school and receive the same access to school activities, facilities, and instruction as students without a chronic physical disability.

5. Create an Emergency Care Plan.

Emergency Plan

Emergencies, such as a poorly controlled seizure, can happen and are best handled when there is a plan already in place. Any staff members who are in contact with the child should have basic training on what to do, where life-saving medications are kept, and how to notify the office that medical assistance is needed.

In Conclusion

By identifying the special need child and having an emergency plan in place, the school is ensuring that every child can accelerate. After all, this is the goal of education; developing our young people.

Physical Fitness Guidelines in Public Schools for the 21st Century

 

boy on swingIntroduction

The western world began introducing Physical Education into the curriculum of many schools in the early 19th Century.  PE undertook a lot of changes and by the start of 20th century, elements such as hygiene, bodily health and exercise had been incorporated. The guidelines regulating physical education have changed as well.

Below are some Physical Fitness Guidelines in Public Schools today:

1.  Students should be conversant with strategies, movement concepts, and principles that apply to performance and learning of physical activities

This guideline is concerned with two concepts; Body Management and Locomotor Movement.

In body management, students need to undertake lessons and exercises to help them in identifying and describing body parts: head, hands, shoulders, and toes among others. Locomotor movement requires students participation in activities to show their skills of walking, jogging, running, jumping and so on.

2.  Assess extent of physical fitness to boost health and performance

This guideline touches on Fitness concept, Aerobic Capacity, Flexibility, Body Composition and Endurance and Muscular Strength.

Fitness concepts require students to participate in a variety of physical activities considered to be challenging yet enjoyable such as running, tug-of-war and press-ups while aerobic capacity exercises boost heart rate and breathing in some vigorous physical activities for at least three days every week. In endurance and muscular strength, students need to undergo exercises as hanging from overhead ropes and bars for longer periods of time and climbing a ladder or any other steep surfaces. Flexibility concept encourages students to take part in activities such as stretching involving legs, arms, shoulders, and back without bouncing while body composition is measured by the students’ ability to endure continuous movements for an extended period while doing vigorous to moderate physical activity.

kids playing
3.  Students should show movement and motor skills required to do a range of physical activities

This guideline involves such concepts as Body Management, Movement Concepts, and Manipulative Skills.
Movement concepts require students to do an array of exercises. First, they should travel in larger groups, without falling or bumping into each other to demonstrate locomotor skills. Second, they should move forward and sideways, rapidly changing the direction whenever a signal is conveyed. Third, they should show the similarity between fast and slow speeds while using locomotor skills. Eventually, they need to attempt making shapes at varying height levels i.e. high, medium, and low by using arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet in a different of combinations.In body management, students need to demonstrate motor skills by making shapes using locomotor movements. They are also required to indicate the relationship of directional cues such as over, under, behind, through, next to, right, left, in front of, forward, down, backward, and up by using an object and the body object. Manipulative skills are tested by requiring students to participate in directional cues such as over, under, behind, through, next to, right, left, in front of, forward, down, backward, and up by using an object and the body object as striking a light stationary object.

4. Students show knowledge of sociological and psychological principles and strategies that can be applied to the learning and performing physical activity

This guideline entails self-responsibility, social interaction and group dynamics. Self-responsibility requires students to visualize and analyze the eventual feelings that result from participating in physical activity.  In social interaction, students must have the capability to share in a physical activity and discuss the reasons why positive social interaction makes the physical activity with other groups more fun. In group dynamics, students should be able to play the role of a leader and a follower in different combinations during physical activities.

What is a Healthy School Environment for our Kids Today?

Kids in a public school

 

Our children are our most precious natural resource. Properly raising and motivating them requires an investment from both parents and the education community as well. For children in public and private schools, it is imperative that they are in a healthy environment every day for them to grow and thrive. If the environment they go to school in is not healthy, children are unable to reach their fullest potential, which is detrimental not only to them but to all of us.

So, what makes for a healthy school environment for our kids?

There are several components that work together to ensure each child receives the best education possible.
Three main areas have a large impact on children and where educators need to focus their efforts.

A school needs to be:

1. Nutritionally Healthy

School lunch room

A healthy diet is essential to a child being able to perform well at school. When the body lacks proper nutrition, it has a noticeable impact on brain function. Being hungry can cause problems with growth and development, memory, behavior and overall ability to learn well in a classroom setting. When a child goes to school hungry or has a poor breakfast or lunch, the effects are felt far beyond mealtime. Thankfully, there are assistance programs to help ensure that all children receive adequate nutrition to give them the chance to be their best at school.

2. Physically Healthy

School Playground

Working hand in hand with nutrition, physical health, and fitness is also paramount for children. This includes the child feeling safe from physical harm in their school environment and also getting the adequate amount of exercise each day. Even though younger children tend to be active enough on their own to meet their physical activity requirements, it is still important for them to be involved in a regular program of exercise at school. Exercise becomes even more critical as the child grows and may tend to be less active on his or her own. Keeping kids physically fit contributes to their overall health, thus helping them to perform better in school and possibly miss fewer days of school due to illness.

3. Emotionally Healthy

Two happy girls

When a child’s diet and exercise needs are met, it is a tremendous boost to their ability to learn and thrive at school. Also important is the emotional environment in the classroom. When a child is encouraged to learn and challenged to do their very best, a positive view of education is instilled in them. They will feel free to try and possibly fail, knowing it’s all a part of learning. If there is no positive reinforcement or the child feels ignored or unimportant, they will stop trying. This does not mean that every child should get a trophy just for showing up, but a little positive reinforcement and support can go a long way in not only how the child performs at school, but in life as well.

 

We Are All Responsible

It is up to us, as parents and educators, to make sure that each child can be educated in a safe, caring, healthy environment. This is our responsibility to them; they are unable to do it for themselves. If we are to see the next generation grow to be healthy and productive, we must ensure that we give them all that they need today. Doing so is an investment not only in children but an investment in our future – an investment in all of us.