Many people ask if Fit Kids offers social emotional learning. We have two answers: yes and yes.
The pursuit of fitness itself contains social emotional learning benefits. Putting one’s body in motion means taking agency, a trait that translates to valuing oneself and positively affecting interpersonal relationships in school, family life, and the larger community.
Pursuing fitness in a structured manner, as in the Fit Kids curriculum, also contributes to the development of discipline, persistence, pride, and the physical, mental, and emotional endurance to complete tasks and excel at one’s work. As students progress through the Fit Kids program, these strivings and successes grow their confidence.
And, as a last point under our first “yes,” Fit Kids participants often help each other. Students who see their classmates struggling with an exercise often go out of their way to encourage their peers or instruct them in the exercise.
In this way, social barriers break down, and the stronger assist the weaker. Students learn and exhibit patience, empathy, and leadership skills. So, yes, Fit Kids naturally and organically offers social emotional learning.
Now, there is another “yes” to explain. At Fit Kids professional development gatherings, experts from such organizations as Positive Coaching Alliance and Child Mind Institute provide training in social emotional learning strategies to the coaches, teachers, and administrators of the schools and organizations with which we partner to deliver the Fit Kids program.
That way, if students don’t naturally answer that first “yes” on their own, their adult mentors can guide students to the second “yes” and make sure that they experience the social emotional learning benefits that Fit Kids offers.
For more information about social emotional learning and other benefits related to youth fitness, see the Aspen Institute’s Project Play “Youth Sports Facts” web page and download SHAPE America’s Physical Education SEL Crosswalk document.