Developing an after-school program that has, as a component of its program, a feature that allows for the exploration of a child’s physical self is problematic in that stereotypes surrounding body image, physical ability, and cognitive limitations are learned even by the very young. However, apart from any tests of strength and agility, opportunities exist to teach children the importance of physical, mental, and emotional health, and the fundamentals of social and moral reasoning. Additionally, the curriculum could include important lessons in social and cultural understanding and acceptance. However in light of all this, these activities should be developed not only to instruct the children, but be entertaining.
An after-school program such as this could show over time the differences in height and weight among various body types. Children could be measured at different points in the school year to show how those their age physically mature. In addition, experiments could be employed to have the children assess and describe which of their muscles are used and the amount of energy required to perform various tasks. These exercises might also be used to show the value and variety of measurement and the use of measurement tools to compare objects and assess change. Still, due to the competitive nature of many children, any measurements of strength and agility should also encourage the idea that judging individuals by appearance or ability is a poor approach to assessing any person’s worth.
This period of growth might provide a good opportunity to narrow the focus of identifying individual body parts. In addition, children might be asked to determine which body parts and mechanisms are used to accomplish certain tasks such as running, jumping, lifting, throwing, etc. Although a need for age appropriate activities is apparent, these exercises could be used as a foundation for more advanced explorations in later grades. Moreover, in a mixed age setting, older children might easily be employed to help the younger children understand their potential as they grow. The children might be asked to recall the types of activities they engaged in at an earlier age and the changes in their ability to accomplish those activities. Range of motion might be discussed between babies, toddlers, and themselves. As writing and drawing are being taught, and activities such as using various objects for construction are undertaken, a discussion of the delicate use of fingers and other body movement could be examined. In age appropriate stages, these elements could be explored through dance, games of coordination, or sport.
As the children grow older, they might be involved in more advanced activities that reflect their changing abilities. The fun and creative activities that most children normally engage in could be a catalyst for an improved understanding and appreciation for the health sciences and this could carry over to their in-school...