Professor and Coach Mike Hanik
Parents know education is important to their children’s future success. We look for strategies, techniques, and opportunities to help our children learn. Many times we become overwhelmed. There just does not seem to be enough time to learn math, science, reading and all the other academic subjects. Children lose interest or focus and have trouble concentrating. This can lead to both the child and parent becoming frustrated or stressed.
What if there was a simple thing that could be done that did not take much time and had a profound impact on the child? What if this one thing that took 20-30 minutes a day impacted a child physically, emotionally, psychologically, behaviorally, socially, and cognitively? Wouldn’t you want your child to do this one thing?
Physical Education is this one thing. Physical Education can have a profound effect on a child. As little as 20 to 30 minutes a day provides many benefits. A well designed physical education program teaches basic movement skills that creates a movement foundation. This movement foundation provides the skills needed to participate in a wide range of sports and activities. This movement foundation builds confidence and improves self-esteem. Children who are physically active are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. They are better at managing stress. Regular physical activity is associated with a longer life and better quality of life. The research shows that physical education also helps improve behavior. A well designed physical education program can be used to teach fair play, sportsmanship, and personal responsibility.
Physical Education can enhance academic performance. This benefit of physical education is often overlooked. Physical Education is seen by some as taking time away from other academic subjects. The research and anecdotal evidence suggest otherwise. Trudeau and Shephard (2008) found that incorporating physical education into the school day did not impair the academic achievement of children and adolescents. Trudeau and Shephard suggest that physical education increases self-esteem which is important to academic success.
We know that physical education increases blood flow to the brain, enhances mood, decreased stress hormones, and increases mental alertness. Even when academic time was reduced to incorporate physical education, the research showed no decrease in academic results but there were fewer discipline problems and greater attentiveness (Shephard 1997). It seems that physical education actually helped children concentrate better, stay focused longer, and get more work done. Physical Education can also incorporate other academic subjects into movement patterns, games and instruction to supplement the learning of those subjects.
Spending 20-30 minutes per day on a well-designed physical education program is a crucial component to the successful education of every child. Spend a few minutes before starting the school day or in the middle of the day doing physical education. Your entire family will benefit.