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Nurturing the Whole Child: How Expanding Our Physical Education Program Will Foster Well-being

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
—John F. Kennedy
By Walt Linaweaver
A core tenet of the St. Mary’s curriculum is fostering the well-being of the whole child. Physical Education, we believe, is not exclusive to athletes. To achieve proper mind-body balance, our program must address every child’s physical health on a daily basis, regardless of where students find themselves on the athletic spectrum. This year, Physical Education will be incorporated into our curriculum on a daily basis. Every student will have an opportunity, every day, to develop and hone physical skills that will serve him or her for a lifetime.

“We want to achieve two specific things,” says Walt Linaweaver, Head of Middle School. “First, to integrate health education in Middle School more extensively than in recent years, and second, to draw on California State standards as a guide for appropriate content. California standards provide an excellent body of resources.”

Faculty will focus on teaching lifetime activities—physical skills that will serve students throughout the entirety of their life. They will develop skills that will translate across a wide variety of activities—balance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, reaction speed, etc. This allows the curriculum to incorporate both traditional and nontraditional activities. It also allows the faculty to meet students where they are, regardless of talent, ability and skill. Every child benefits every day.

“We believe in the whole child,” says Linaweaver, “and we’ll focus on the whole child. Learning about your body and how your body works is a huge educational component. It reinforces who we are in school.”

St. Mary’s once again focused on finding faculty who are passionate experts
in their field. Can coaches take children to the next level? Can they push them forward? Do they offer the right balance between posing challenges and providing support? “Middle School is a challenging age for physical education,” says Linaweaver. That’s why the right faculty members, exerting the right motivations, are so critical. And St. Mary’s focus on differentiated learning makes all the difference to students’ success.