Physical Education: Critical to a Complete Education
Physical education plays a critical role in educating the whole student. Research supports the importance of movement in educating both mind and body. Physical education contributes directly to development of physical competence and fitness. It also helps students to make informed choices and understand the value of leading a physically active lifestyle. The benefits of physical education can affect both academic learning and physical activity patterns of students. The healthy, physically active student is more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. In the preschool and primary years, active play may be positively related to motor abilities and cognitive development. As children grow older and enter adolescence, physical activity may enhance the development of a positive self-concept as well as the ability to pursue intellectual, social and emotional challenges. Throughout the school years, quality physical education can promote social, cooperative and problem solving competencies. Quality physical education programs in our nation’s schools are essential in developing motor skills, physical fitness and understanding of concepts that foster lifelong healthy lifestyles.
The middle school student is ready to experience a wide variety of applications of fundamental movements, including traditional sports, and lifetime or leisure-oriented activities. It is during this period when students are capable of refining, combining and applying a variety of sport-related and lifetime skills. Students may explore after-school opportunities for specialized or/and competitive physical activity programs.
Rapid growth during the pre-adolescent years may affect students’ interests, choices, and activity patterns. Therefore physical education programs offer a variety of activities to meet and expand student interests. Fitness development becomes more systematic. Students develop specific fitness components, set goals and assess personal fitness levels. It has been shown that students miss fewer days of school because of illness and exhibit greater academic achievement because of the physical vitality gained in physical education.
High school students become increasingly more independent. High school students begin to make decisions and choices in taking increased responsibility for themselves. Quality high school physical education programs provide students conceptual and practical understanding of: 1) health-related physical fitness, and 2) how to maintain a health-related level of physical fitness. Physical education plays a vital part in helping high school students maintain and refine the skills and knowledge needed to select physical activities to use throughout their lives. High school students’ ability to compare and contrast, analyze, and synthesize information enables them to apply movement principles in new and meaningful ways. Students can more fully understand the role of physical activity in preventive health and analyze the pros and cons of various types of physical activity in lifelong health.
Physical competence builds self-esteem. Quality physical education programs enhance the development of both competence and confidence in performing motor skills. Attitudes, habits, and perceptions are critical prerequisites for persistent participation in physical activity. Appropriate levels of health-related fitness enhance feelings of well being and efficacy.