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A CLOSER LOOK – Health & Physical Education with Ms. Oosterhof

Health and Physical Education: It’s more than just a ‘Gym Class’

For some of us, memories of ‘gym’ often center on the teacher throwing out a ball, and telling the students to go and play. As we move into the second semester, I’d like to provide an overview of what Health and Physical Education is like at the Caribbean International Academy (CIA).

The students in the secondary Health and Physical Education (H&PE) Program have been hard at work developing stronger minds and bodies. This dynamic process takes place in three different locations within the school: the classroom, the pool, and the sports court. Learning how to make healthy decisions, participating in a wide variety of physical activities, becoming ‘fitter’ individuals, developing leadership skills, and learning through authentic experiences, form the foundation of H&PE at CIA.

Health lessons focus on four topic areas: healthy eating, personal safety, substance use and addictions, and human development and sexual health. These areas cover the understanding of health concepts, making healthy choices, and making connections for healthy living. A few of the activities designed to help students demonstrate their learning include: making healthy and nutritious smoothies, teaching the grade 7s and 8s about substance use and addiction topics, and participating in an introductory CPR course taught by Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services.

 In addition to healthy living, each course allows student to develop knowledge and skills related to movement competence and personal fitness, which provide a basis for active living. Every Tuesday, H&PE class takes place in the beautiful outdoor 25m pool. Units of study include water polo, lifesaving, diving, synchronized swimming, stroke development, and low organizational games. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on the sports court, students participate in games from four different game categories: Net/Wall, Invasion/Territory, Target, and Striking and Fielding. These categories are based on the Teaching Games for Understanding approach, which is designed to enhance the students’ appreciation of the game, along with teaching tactical awareness and decision-making strategies.

At the end of each course, after students have practiced their movement skills and strategies, students have the chance to demonstrate their leadership skills. This is included as part of their final summative evaluation. Last semester, the grade 9s and 10s created, planned, and lead their peers in original warm-up games and rigorous fitness blasts. This semester, the grade 11s will focus on teaching skill development exercises, while the grade 12s will plan and lead an entire class and organize and execute an intramural type event for younger students.  Through these experiences at school, students can build their sense of self, learn to interact positively with others, and develop their ability to think critically and creatively.

H&PE not only takes place at school, but also beyond school walls. Last semester, grade 9 and 10 students participated in two adventurous and informative nature hikes, lead and interpreted by Laura Bijnsdorp of the Environmental Protection in the Caribbean. While the grade 9s hiked a steep trail up to the Natural Pools, the grade 10s hiked along a longer but more gradual trail to Wilderness Beach. Looking ahead, the grade 12s will have the chance to try their hands at some golf, and also participate in a field trip, which will emphasize teamwork, leadership, and a bit of friendly competition.

Have a healthy and active second semester CIA community!

Ms. Oosterhof