Each week, Fairmont Private Schools’ Mr. Scott Butz and Mrs. Michelle Anderson teach physical education to Fairmont’s youngest students. They engage children in fun exercises, teach them games, and provide experiences for students to develop confidence and sportsmanship. These activities not only accomplish the obvious goals of gross and fine motor skill development, but they also reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen relationships among peers, enhance self-esteem, and promote camaraderie.
First and foremost, physical education (PE) teaches students the value of fitness. It helps develop motor skills and establishes healthy habits for an active lifestyle. Children practice moving their bodies and navigating the space around them in new and exciting ways. Running, hopping, galloping, skipping, leaping, and sliding at different speeds and in different directions is an important part of learning physical control of their bodies. Simple games like jumping rope, hula hooping, and hopscotch help children improve balance, coordination, and aerobic health.
Additional benefits from PE are seen in a child’s academic success and social-emotional development. Physical movements that promote balance and stretching, such as yoga and creative posing, require strength and concentration. The focus practiced in these types of activities translates into enhanced focus in the classroom as well. Catching and throwing games and other “ball sports” develop hand-eye coordination and coordinate whole body movements, which helps children learn to read and write. The coordinated focus found in reading, writing, and sports all require your brain to respond to visual stimulus and perform a coordinated movement. Last, the social-emotional benefits of physical education are abundant. Learning to take turns, accept defeat, celebrate victory, and support a teammate all contribute to building confidence, humility, perseverance, and sportsmanship.
Amy Kaiser, from the National Shape America Program, likens PE to a science lab. She says, “physical education is the ‘laboratory of life.’ Children challenge their bodies and brains to try new tasks, accept difficult challenges, and learn a different vocabulary. When students fall down, they have to stand up again. If they drop a ball, they pick it up again.” Just like with other school subjects, you can easily bring physical education to life at home! Make time for fun activities that help your child to be active, be outdoors, and be healthy – and it’s good for you too!