Kids, family and education |

Staying Fit During the Pandemic

KIDS, FAMILY AND EDUCATION | 8 September 2021

Jakarta Intercultural School gets creative to ensure the physical wellness of students.

Educators have long emphasized the importance of physical education (PE) and sports in providing a comprehensive learning experience for students, with research proving they greatly contribute to higher academic achievement and social-emotional development. But the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to online learning meant that many schools have had to cut back on their sports programs or suspend them altogether. 

Understanding the significant role of PE in the holistic growth of young people, Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) has innovated its athletics program to meet the needs of students learning from home. And with additional motivational support from parents, according to JIS Athletics Coordinator Jake Stockman, they can continue to maintain their physical fitness for when the time comes for schools to reopen once again for face-to-face instruction.

Stockman compares physical education to a “toolbox” that can provide children with the skills, confidence, and drive to be proactive and to be decisive in their decision-making.

“When you get into early elementary school, it’s first about learning how to use your body. Then it’s about teaching kids how to set fitness goals. When they learn to move deliberately and can set some fitness goals on their own, something small like doing one push up, it creates a lot of success. It may turn into passion and maybe a lifestyle,” he said. “[Athletics is] about getting yourself coordinated, getting yourself knowledgeable so that you now have your own very basic toolbox and can go use it.”

Despite the temporary changes brought on by online learning, this analogy continues to ring true at JIS with the help of parents, digital technology, as well as some ingenuity. As part of the school’s mission to provide a 21st-Century education for learners to thrive in an increasingly digitized world, each student at JIS is loaned an iPad (Grades 2-4) or laptop (Grades 5-12) to maximize their studies. JIS PE teachers were able to utilize this “One-to-One” system to be creative with their lessons with the simple yet important goal to get the children out of their study chairs and moving.

Many assignments, for example, involved a challenge that students learn and practice online together. They must then use their “toolbox” of skills and knowledge to elevate that activity or specific sports-related movement, by using household materials or creating a new game, and submit a video of themselves presenting their original fitness idea.

“These are introductory sports sessions designed to get the kids involved,” Stockman said.

The move to online learning was also a chance for JIS to offer traditionally indoor sports as after-school clubs or through the JIS Academy & Community Sports program. The wide selection of activities offered includes taekwondo, capoeira, zumba, and gymnastics. These have recently been held online and are led by JIS teachers and coaches, as well as trained experts with a passion for physical fitness. 

For outdoor fitness activities, JIS’s expansive sports facilities provide ample room for students to exercise and get moving while still maintaining a safe, physical distance from one another. The school’s Cilandak campus in South Jakarta, which is home to JIS Middle School and High School, boasts three tennis courts, a swimming pool, three soccer fields, and a track and field.

When the government signals the green light for campuses to fully reopen, Stockman said, JIS would be ready to safely accommodate students as they continue to their fitness regimen. In the meantime, he added, parents are encouraged to play a part in their children’s physical wellness, pointing out that fitness was closely connected to social-emotional wellness.

“Do the physical activities with them. Don’t just tell them, ‘You need to do this.’ Do physical activities or play games together! Don’t ask them to do something that you’re not willing to do because that does not build motivation. That might mean you have a conversation together to set goals and you work toward that goal — that’s motivating for students,” he said.

“Those conversations and goal-setting might be new to you. If you’re thinking, ‘This is not going to work’—don’t give up! Sit with your kids, and try your approach differently. Keep going; something is going to click.” 

You can hear more from Stockman and listen to an interview with him on the JIS Podcast.

"All photos were taken when students were allowed to be on campus and under the guidance of regulations and health and safety procedures."