31 August, 2020 Academic

Recognising the importance of Health and Physical Education in the online learning period

By Daniel Zito, Acting Director of Physical Education and Sport (K-6) and Emma Cowan, Head of Health and Physical Education (7-12)

Health and Physical Education (HPE) Day is a nationwide initiative that highlights the importance of HPE in the Australian Curriculum, and its influence on the learning and development of children and young adults. The theme of this year’s HPE day, to be held on Wednesday 2 September, is Good for Children, Good for Schools and Good for Communities.

We are excited to recognise this day to honour our creative and engaging Health and Physical Education programs from K-12 at St Michael’s. Although our HPE classes look a little different this year, the circumstances have allowed us to reimagine how the learning in Health and Physical Education can be translated safely into students’ homes.

The outcome of quality HPE is health and physical literacy. When we consider English literacy, we think of the ability to apply the English language. It is not enough to know the alphabet, or how to read the words on a page. Someone who is literate takes meaning from what they read. They have the confidence, motivation and disposition to put the English language to use for the enrichment of their own life. We think of health and physical literacy in the same way. While knowledge and skills are a start, a person who understands health and physical activity can have the confidence, motivation and disposition to apply these skills in meaningful, transferrable ways.

In 2020, we have found a new benefit of health and physical literacy. Our ability to transfer skills has never been tested as it has this year. Individuals who are literate have been able to find new ways to achieve the same important outcomes. Neighbours are rediscovering their local parks, lifting dumbbells has been swapped for lifting cans of soup, and swimmers have found ways to improve their cardiovascular fitness on dry land. We are all recognising the importance of social connection through physical activity and are using advanced technology to maintain those important bonds for our wellbeing.

St Michael’s students have been applying their understanding of physical literacy during their own Health, Physical Education and Personal Wellbeing classes. In PE class this Term, Year 1 student Liam created a hand washing sign to stick above his bathroom sink. He says, “when I forget, I can look at it and it will remind me”. Year 6 student Millie, when researching health messages in the media, reflected that getting outside and being active “is healthy for us humans, and exercise clears my mind”. Year 8 student Jay shared that he likes to kick a soccer ball against a wall as a technique to help relieve stress.

Mental health awareness is about recognising what you are feeling, like happiness or anxiousness, and using techniques to make you feel better.Jay, Year 8 student

Robert, in Year 7, is jumping on the trampoline to improve his cardiovascular endurance as part of his personalised Training Program Challenge. Year 10 student Anna enjoyed being persistent and resilient when practising her chosen new skill of juggling as part of a Personal Wellbeing task. Finally, Thomas, in Year 11, has been practising interesting balance positions in addition to other physical activities throughout the day. He reflected that this helps him break up long periods of sitting, with the benefits of maintained focus and concentration. Thomas noted his self-efficacy in balancing has dramatically improved over the Term. These are all wonderful examples of students demonstrating health and physical literacy in action.

In the lead-up to national HPE Day on Wednesday 2 September, the St Michael’s community is participating in a raft of healthy initiatives. Years 5 and 6 students are competing in School Sport Victoria’s Virtual Athletics, Aerobics teams are training for the virtual House competition, and K-6 House Captains are announcing a House Ninja Warrior competition.

  • recognising-the-importance-of-health-and-physical-education-in-the-online-learning-period
    Staff have been tracking their steps as part of the Commit to Being Fit Challenge
  • recognising-the-importance-of-health-and-physical-education-in-the-online-learning-period
    Liam's (1R) sign reminds him of the importance of washing his hands

Students from Years 7 to 12 are connecting through the SMGS Strava Club and also participating in the ‘Iso Trick Shots’ competition. Personal Wellbeing classes have been tailored to help students in Years 7 to 10 embrace and enhance elements of their physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual health to support them as they learn from home. Staff members too are staying active, counting their steps in a virtual walk from Adelaide to Melbourne as part of the Commit to Being Fit Challenge.

As we recognise Health and Physical Education Day, we challenge our St Michael’s community to spend some time each day outside, in the fresh air, to go for a walk or run, complete a home-fitness circuit or just to walk the dog.