Background: I recently received the following e-mail from a fellow PE teacher. She recently found out that her school’s physical education program may be cut/reduced next year. Here is what she wrote (I changed a few of the words to keep the identify/location a bit vague) and my reply:
Dear Artie,I need help! I teach at a K-3 school and I have recently discover that our school is discussing reducing P.E. from 4 days a week to two. A committee is meeting in a few weeks to hear input. The teachers and parents are not at all happy with the thought of cutting the PE program. I am planning on going to the school committee meeting to defend my program.I was hoping that you had access to some convincing statistics as to why cutting P.E. is so s detrimental to our kids. We all know why, but I need the hard cold facts in writing.Any help that you could give me would be greatly appreciated. I am also meeting with our school’s wellness committee to get their support.Thank you.A Concerned and Frantic PE Teacher
Why Children Need Physical Education
Background: Over the years, educational researchers has concluded that physical education contributes towards helping students to be safe, healthy, and physically active. This is especially true at the younger grades where students first learn how to apply these safety, wellness, and active lifestyle skills. The following ten research-based outcomes would be dramatically impacted by cutting our primary PE program at this time:
- Decreased Physical Fitness Physical education improves children’s muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition and cardiovascular endurance.
- Decreased Skill Development Physical education develops motor skills, which allow for safe, successful and satisfying participation in physical activities.
- Decreased opportunities for healthful physical activity Physical education provides a wide-range of developmentally appropriate activities for all children.
- Fewer Opportunities to Support other Subject Areas Physical education reinforces knowledge learned across the curriculum. Serves as a lab for application of content in science, math and social studies.
- More Self Discipline Referrals Physical education facilitates development of student responsibility for health and fitness.
- Decreased opportunities to increase Character and Judgment Quality physical education can influence moral development. Students have the opportunity to assume leadership, cooperate with others; question actions and regulations and accept responsibility for their own behavior.
- Increased Stress! Physical activity enhances a student’s ability for releasing tension and anxiety, and facilitates emotional stability and resilience.
- Weakening of Positive Peer Relationships Physical education can be a major force in helping children socialize with others successfully and provides opportunities to learn positive people skills. Especially during late childhood and adolescence, being able to participate in dances, games and sports is an important part of peer culture.
- Decreased Opportunities for Self-confidence and Self-esteem Physical education instills a stronger sense of self-worth in children based on their mastery of skills and concepts in physical activity. They can become more confident, assertive, independent and self-controlled.
- Decreased Opportunities for Setting Goals Physical education provides children the opportunity to set and strive for personal, achievable goals.