And it made school fun.

October 10, 2007


September 27, 2007

The two latest South Carolina rankings are that we are first in violent crime and not very good at all at encouraging our children to participate in physical activity. Check out this sentence taken from the study done by the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center:

The proportion of children not participating in any after school sport teams or lessons ranged from 25.9% in Vermont to 54.5% in South Carolina.

There’s so much great stuff being done to improve things in South Carolina, why do they have to keep generating these darned ranked lists?  See the weekly health tip being generated by First Lady Jenny Sanford.  Bike to work day

Vermont?  Are you kidding me?  It’s cold in Vermont during the winter and I’m sure they have every reason in the world to hibernate for six months and not do a darn thing.  South Carolina has the perfect climate for year round physical activity.  I think it’s crazy, but people still run around a tennis court in August when it’s 100 degrees.  We have no excuse! 

Have you ever noticed that there are just not a lot of joggers and bike riders in Columbia?  Sure there are some, but check out the Mall in Washington, D.C at any time of the day and you will see scores of people jogging.  Now I’m sure if they are living in DC that they are Type A overachievers, but it adds to the vibrancy of a city when so many people are exercising outdoors.  Where the heck do these people even go to shower in the middle of the day?  If our kids are inactive, then they are probably following the example set by the parents.  Don’t blame the age 10-17 group, blame the parents.

But it is also the role of schools to encourage, and I might go far so as to say, insist on extra school activities for children.  Teach children to balance the rigors of education and homework with the need to pursue outside passions and physical activity.  Learn the true spirit of team work by participating in team sports.  And throw yourself 100% into an individual sport (or hobby) to help discover your true passions.  Whatever happened to exercise the mind (read, study, play games, do crossword puzzles) and exercise the body.

Here’s another quote from the study.

The proportion of children spending at least two hours a day on electronic media ranged from 37.8% in Vermont to 57.6% in New Jersey. 

South Carolina is not number one in something!  I love these lists.  Video games and TV are serious temptations for children (and adults) and are serious time wasters.  Parents need to insist on strict limitations here. Or just don’t even have video games in the house.  Or keep kids so busy they don’t even have time to think about TV.

Are schools cutting back on time during the day devoted to gym?  I asked my little kindergartener as he went out to school today why he was wearing his Crocs and not his running shoes. He said he didn’t have gym today.   I’d like to see my five year old having gym every day.

Balance between work and play, between what you have to do and what you love to do, between intellectual and physical activities.  It’s something that is practiced and reinforced at countless good schools around the state and I dare say, at every private school in the country.  If we teach our children good habits, good balance in life when they are young, then they will carry this philosophy with them for the rest of their days and grow up to be productive, involved citizens.

I can’t imagine getting through my school years without after school activities and in particular for me, after school sports.  It was a chance to blow off some steam, muck around with people and teachers who shared a common interest.  That’s when you get to know the teachers on a more personal basis and see that they are human.  That’s when you cement your potentially lifelong friends. 

And it made school fun.


Alan Cooper