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Active Living: Step 2 - Background Information for Teachers


Set goals for health, not weight, as appropriate for growing children. Expecting all children to be within an ideal weight range is unrealistic and can lead to problems. It is more realistic to expect children to maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy weight can be defined as the natural weight the body adopts, given a healthy diet and meaningful level of physical activity.
Benefits of active living are numerous. Quite often, one needs to be engaged in an active lifestyle for a period of time prior to benefiting from physical activity.
Being active tends to make people pay more attention to their eating.

Feeling encouraged about one’s personal goals around being active can lead to further involvement in sports.

Given recent efforts to promote physical activity and an active life style, it might help to provide equitable access to physical activities so that students of all sizes and shapes and skill levels feel encouraged to participate.

Students this age might already feel self-conscious about their appearance due to rapid growth and changes associated with puberty, so that any additional factors might present a barrier to their active participation.

There have been efforts made to ensure that all children have access to education no matter what their skill level. E.g. Learning Disability. So why should that not be the case for physical activity and athletics?

Suggestions for teachers include:

  • The teacher and not the students could select equitable teams
  • Fundamental movement skills could be assessed based on student improvement (as opposed to the best athlete of the class).
  • Active participation as opposed to skill level could be valued.
  • A variety of physical activities could be offered to students to encourage participation.
This student’s discouragement could lead to a search for nurturance through food, or she might find excuses not to return to gym class (note: there is a high drop-out rate for girls in gym class as they get older).

Video exerpt from "Body Talk 2: It's a New Language " © The Body Positive, 2002. Used with permission.

The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages the "health at any size" approach, which is a health-centred, rather than a weight-centred approach, and focuses on the whole person – physically, mentally, and socially.

This approach shifts the focus to active living, eating in normal, healthy ways, being respectful of other individuals, and ensuring health and well-being for all, at whatever size they may be (Weight Realities Division of the Society for Nutrition Education).

Video exerpt from "Body Talk 1" © The Body Positive, 1999. Used with permission.


Active Living
Research Programme Objectives

Ontario-Specific Expectations

Grade 4
Active Participation>Living Skills
Demonstrate respectful behaviour towards others in the group (e.g. speaking kindly, refraining from hurtful comments, acknowledging others' ideas and opinions).

Grade 5
Active Participation>Physical Activity
Describe the factors that motivate participation in daily physical activity (e.g. seeing an activity on TV, idolizing a sports hero, doing an activity with your family) and connect them to various activities;

Grade 6
Active Participation>Physical Activity
Describe the factors that motivate participation in daily physical activity (e.g. the influence of friends, enthusiasm for the outdoors) and begin to consider them when making their own choices of physical activities;

View the Ministry of Ontario Curriculum

Ministry of Education Objectives

Nova Scotia-Specific Curriculum Outcomes:

Grade 4
Physical Education>Active Living
Participate with and show respect for persons of like and different skill levels;
Health Education>Strategies for Healthy Living
B7.1 Participate in a broad range of physical activity;

Grade 5
Physical Education>Active Living
Demonstrate a willingness to choose and participate in an activity in at home or in the community for personal enjoyment and health benefits;
Physical Education>Skill Development
Demonstrate respect for his/her opponents and give everyone an equal chance to participate;

Grade 6
Physical Education>Active Living
Demonstrate a willingness to choose to exercise at home for personal enjoyment and benefit

View the Ministry of Nova Scotia Curriculum