Schools and society are taking focussed actions aimed at increasing physical activity in children and helping lower the obesity rates that are becoming increasingly prevalent among young people. Statistics show that in Australia, one- quarter of children is either overweight or obese as stated in (Australian Government: Australian Insisture of Health & Welfare, 2004). The focus of preventing obesity will be the two to six year old age group.
Children who are obese face a number of factors that affect both their physical and emotional wellbeing. Obesity can cause health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart, liver or kidney disease as stated by (Shaffer, 1993 p. 187). Another problem, for children who are obese, is their social settings and interaction with other children. Negative experiences potentially can cause lifetime self-esteem issues. Shaffer believes “Obese children may also find it difficult to make friends with age mates, who are likely to tease them about their size” (1993 p. 187).
The two to six year old age group is a great age for a teacher to assist in preventing obesity. This is because they are at an age where they can start learning good habits, in all areas of life, and in particular physical activity and healthy eating. Teachers are in a position where they can be good role models and set good examples in the classroom. Children will observe their teachers and as Berk indicates “children can pick up much positive behaviour through observing others.” (2000 p. 485).
Physical education is important for two to six year olds. Teachers can play a big role in preventing obesity through educating and assisting students and parents. This is an amazing area of development as well as a lot of fun because children, from experience, are so eager to learn. McDevitt & Ormrod believes “this age is a period of incredible creativity, fantasy and play” (2010, p. 20).
Physically two to six year olds are refining their gross and fine motor skills such as being able to catch a ball, skipping, hopping and running (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 24) This is important because their ability to refine their skills improves the more they practice and as they get older. An example of this is stated in (Berk, 2000, p. 177) “at the age of two and three, they throw a ball rigidly, using only their arms but by the time they reach four and five, they rotate the body and step forward as they throw it”.
As children get older, they learn that the world isn’t all about them and they start to interact with their peers. According to McDevitt & Ormrod this is called cognitive development which also includes some knowledge of colours, the alphabet and numbers. Physical activity at this developmental stage will encourage children to enjoy what they are doing when seeing other children doing the same. They may not be scared to join in as they are now beginning to “enjoy each other’s company.” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p.20)
Children in this...