Are we teaching our kids to be FAT ?

Is this portion control?

Yup, that’s a pretty bold question.  I’m not implying that parents are teaching their kids to be fat, but some are certainly not helping them make healthy choices.

Where this comes from is something one of my daughters said yesterday when we were coming home from their school.

Me – “How was school today?”

DD – “It was great!”

Me – “Wow! What did you do that made it great?”

DD – “We played soccer in QDF!”

That, in its self, amazed me.  QDF/DPA, as most parents will know, is mandated by the Ministry of Education in Ontario.  Normally what we hear about this 20 minute daily class exercise requirement, which disguise itself as what we used to know as gym class, is that they danced, they walked or they did something equally non-athletic.  I’m not saying that dance is not athletic, but dance led by grade 5’s or 6’s…you get it. On days when the “real” gym class happens, you don’t need QDF/DPA.  From the Ministry of Education Website:

Healthy Growth and Development- The school implement the QDF/DPA program, by training the junior students to be leaders. With their primary buddy. These students follow a schedule by which they go into the various classes, and lead the students through a 10-15 minutes aerobic workout. All students benefit physically, mentally and have fun.

Anyone else notice that it’s supposed to be a mandated 20 minute program, but the student leaders only do 10-15 minutes aerobic workout?

So you can understand that I was shocked when I was told they played soccer!  After I asked a few questions, I learned that what was playing soccer was being told about the game by the teacher, and this was actually gym class!

The ‘soccer playing’ was achieved by the teacher spending the majority of the time reading a book about dinosaurs playing soccer…(Ooooooh…that’s productive and in library they did what? Shot put??)  Then they did some running with the ball and then, back to the books.  Wow…what a great achievement in exercise!!

Everywhere we turn you can find a story about childhood obesity being at epidemic levels.  This generation of children is expected to be the first generation where life expectancy is shorter for them than it is for us.  This comes right from the Education ministries website:

“…during the past twenty-five years, obesity rates among children have increased substantially, with the result that a large number of children face the risk of developing such serious illnesses as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and some cancers.”

Hmmm. Seems to me over the last 25 years the education industry has gotten away from competition, exercise and health too.  Coincidence?

Why?  Health care is better than ever, there is more known about the cause of disease and illness, we have a better understanding of fitness now than ever before.  So why is childhood obesity so rampant.

What time is soccer Mom?

Lets see, no real gym classes in the schools, video games, cars to get everywhere.  A lack of recreational facilities to support the rapid growth of towns has left huge waiting lists to get into programs.  The list goes on and on.  Lets not forget the uber-kids that are enrolled in athletic programs from 3:30 to 8:00 every evening.  That sounds great but where is their food coming from? The microwave, the drive through, a box?  Real foods aren’t even eaten to fuel the more active kids.  What do they learn? Grab food products that are convenient instead of making food that is healthy and has real nutritional value.  Oh yeah, I can’t forget, “I give my son a bottle of GatorPower to ensure he replaces his electrolytes and energy stores!”  What, is Jr. a world-class athlete that spends his time burning through a couple of thousand calories per workout?  Don’t think so.  That thought process is brought to you by mass marketing.

Gym class in some countries

Some of the healthiest countries in the world still have full-blown gym classes that start at a very early age where the kids are taught sports and exercise and health.  There isn’t a prevalence of food products in those countries, but food.  You don’t get a meal in a box that just needs to be thrown in a microwave.

If you want your children to be healthy, take it upon yourself to set a great example.  Sit down as a family to eat meals or pre-make meals that can be warmed up instead of going to the drive thru.

Tell your school boards that you want real gym classes put back into the curriculum and get rid of those things that don’t create life skills for their future.  Sorry, but learning about festivals that are celebrated around the world have no bearing on their future when the three R’s and your child’s health are suffering.

When did winning and losing, achieving and failure become bad things?  Sorry, that’s another rant…I’ll leave that alone.  I don’t want to sound like I’m ragging on teachers, I know they teach the curriculum they are handed…and the good ones I’ve talked to are just as frustrated.

What do you do? AM I right, or am I off base here?  Is this just too much of a personal opinion, or do you share the same views?  Let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.




  1. Carrie – You’re right!

    The Ministry won’t change…QDF is a JOKE!
    Any teacher that wants to challenge me on that, show me a solid plan for QDF that actually involves teaching these kids how to work hard…physically, then I’ll concede.

    As for gym classes, they’re equally horrible! There’s nothing wrong with working to win. Winning is the result of hard work and determination. For a small number of people, they can win without trying hard. For the majority, winning implies TRYING!!! What happened to teaching our youth that nothing worth having comes easy?! Why do they need trophies and prizes and widgets for just showing up?! Have you tried telling your bank that you “tried” to have your money for your mortgage payment, but just didn’t make it? You know what they would say?! I don’t know about you, but my bank wouldn’t give me a medal!

    As for the food issue, parents are taking the easy way out because they are compensating for not being around! I’m a working mom of 3 kids, so I can attest to how hard it is to be able to balance things. I am a business owner and local school volunteer. My meals are 95% home cooked with REAL ingredients. Food doesn’t come out of a box at my house. All it takes is planning, a little creativity. It costs LESS to feed your kids real food than it does to take them “garage sailing” for junk. That doesn’t mean we don’t dial “Pizza Nova” 1 x month. We LOVE our pizza night! But that’s just it…it’s 1 pizza night.

    Anyhow, this is a rant, I’m prone to those. I can’t believe people don’t want to put more energy, time and effort into our KIDS!!! They are our future!!! They are the best part of who we are!!! They deserve our best and they deserve to be taught how to give themselves the very best!!! Family first, WORK HARD, value your health, eat well, SWEAT, contribute positively to your community, be thankful for your blessings and make every day count!!!

    Happy Monday people!

  2. Carrie, I loved this “rant”. And now the board will get our kids at an even younger age with government funded all day, everyday JK. Where did we get money for this free daycare service when our current programs do not serve our children properly? I just paid $15 for Paige to participate in a climbing program brought to our school. I’d love to see you offer a 1/2 day program for grades 6, 7 and 8 where you ran them through bootcamp and also delivered a presentation on nutrition and lifestyle. Parents would benefit from a similar presentation and might try to make some improvements in their households. These opportunites are as important as trips to the ROM and the Air and Space Museum. How do we motivate children, who aren’t sports-minded (that was me), to be active. Isn’t this a similar dilemma as children with special academic needs? Why aren’t we addressing the effectiveness and value of core programs (not including grade 9 Cosmetology) before growing the student poplulation by one more school year?

  3. I’m not a Mom but I was a child and I will say this… It isn’t about what we are taught so much as what we learn – what habits we form.

    The physical education in school hasn’t changed that much since I was a kid. And maybe it should – I won’t say. We had teachers that wanted nothing to do with phys-ed and taught us square dancing and played dodge ball during those times. We also had teachers that were passionate about it and made us do push-ups, crunches, and run hard. My Mom also forced us to exercise – tossing us outside everyday, no matter the weather. She bought us bikes, balls, hockey sticks, skates, rackets, and gloves. That is what I learned – sports are fun – more fun than push-ups and crunches.

    We learned about the food groups in school too – the importance of eating a well balanced meal. My Mom demonstrated this regularly on weekends – meat, potatoes, and veggies – meat, rice, and veggies – meat, pasta, and salad. And she put fruit and veggies in our lunches. However, when she was working during the week we were given quick food – we didn’t have much fast food cause we were in the country and who can afford that stuff day after day?! We had hotdogs, grilled cheese, canned soup, macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, fish and chips, microwaved pizzas and all the other good stuff filled with sodium and white carbs. This is what I learned – quick food is good and it’s easier than making a well balanced meal!

    It is the habits I was taught that I learned. I knew about getting exercise and about proper nutrition. It doesn’t matter what you know. It’s the learned habits that are important. I took courses on nutrition but when it came down to it – it’s easier to eat the quick food. It certainly wasn’t easier in the long run!! It took A LOT of hard work to work off the pounds I had mounted and it was a struggle to break the habits I had so dearly clung to.

    My point is… It doesn’t matter what kids are taught in school or at home, it is what they learn. AND… they, like me, will learn the easiest way to do things. Make sure your kids are learning good habits. Kids aren’t going to get physically adept teachers every year and every school has different policies on food (I heard some allow fast food brought to class. And I know some that send notes home if the lunches are less than nutritious). However, they will always have the same parents, who love and care for them enough to teach them about proper nutrition and physical activity.

  4. And now for MY rant….

    I don’t know how many times I’ve been at friends/family on a beautiful day and the kids are in the basement or in their rooms on computers, watching television, or playing video games.

    If kids weren’t rotting thier brains on mindless garbage, not only would they learn more but they wouldn’t be obese!!

    Kids should be outside playing – especially on a nice day!


  5. Great comments everyone! I especially agree Amy with your comments on video games.
    I had video games when I was a kid, but my sister and I played outside all the time! Video games were an extra add-on, not our lives!
    When I go into the classroom, I ask some of my Grade 5 students what they did the night before, and they say, “Played Videogames”. I say oh, what else, and they say “That’s it!
    We have become so consumed in our society with technology, that we forget the real enjoyment that children should experience with outdoor play, which also helps with their mental health. I volunteer in my sons school, and some of the snacks the children bring to school are pure garbage. My son asked me the other day if he could bring cookies to school (so Carrie, still have the occasional stash for Johnathan), and I said no. He said but the other kids…blah, blah, blah.. I said the othe rkids are eating crap, you eat your fruit, and have a cookie when you get home, the teacher shouldn’t have to suffer because of your sugar rush!
    For those that commenteed about schools, in my opinion working in one, for the most part QDF is BS. The teachers play some fun games and try to get through the 20 minutes for the most part. Our phys-ed teacher is great and the kids actually get some great fitness in, but basically you have to teach to the curriculum so it’s not always a great work-out! The schools needs to actually hire people who are qualified to teach phys-ed, and who want to teach it. Forcing teachers to teach out of their comfort zone is a diservice to all. I’m fortunate enough next year to be providing coverage in the AM to teachers and I plan on doing a mini-bootcamp at my school with the primary students! It’s going to be great!!!!

    1. Hi Sofie, Thanks for saying that QDF is BS. I said the same thing to Carrie last night. I don’t believe in QDF.

      Years ago BFK (before fat kids), children went to school to learn the 3 R’s. They also participated in gym classes/sports at school, ran around at recess, and played when they went home and on weekends (maybe in organized sports, maybe outdoors with friends, but they were moving and weren’t in front of a computer all evening/weekend). If children are taking part in these physical activities at school (and really taking part – not whining and complaining that they are “tired” and want to “rest” the entire time), and then are active after school/on weekends as well (as well as eating properly), there should be no need for them to have an additional 20 minutes of daily exercise at school (thus taking time out of the academic curriculum). They should be getting their 20+ minutes of QDF after school hours. Hey, it worked in the “old” days and should work now.

      I think the responsibility for a child’s weight rests with the parents, and is not a problem for the school to “fix”. Proper food and nutrition and encouraging exercise needs to come from home. I’m all for teaching exercise, health and proper nutrition to children at school, but parents live with the child, buy and prepare the food and model/encourage the behaviour that their children are going to emulate. Not all teachers are parents but all parents are teachers.

      So there’s my rant, Carrie!

  6. I think we need to tell parents straight out! You are making your child unhealthy. The ministry has taken on the responsibility of dumping the problem on the schools and teachers, and like Lori said, we have alot of academics to cover, we shouldn’t have to take an extra 20 minutes out of our busy day to help your child stay fit! Parents, Wake Up! Stop passing the buck, and start taking some responsibilty for your child! I know when it comes to my childrens education, I wouldn’t place all bets on the teacher to teach my child everything, I need to take some ownership for their learning, so why wouldn’t I take ownership on their health!!
    Amy: The schools need to educate parents and be bold about the message!! We seriously need to put the ball back into the parents court!

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