Informative Essay on Physical Education in School

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Imagine being an elementary student who is told that they will no longer have recess or physical education. Instead, that time will be devoted to more time in the classroom. If you are like me, this news would be crushing as recess and physical education were the highlight of my school day. Schools are now taking time away from physical activity to help children understand more complex topics in the classroom. According to Kenneth Ginsburg, “A 1989 survey taken by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that 96% of surveyed school systems had at least 1 recess period. Another survey a decade later found that only 70% of even kindergarten classrooms had a recess period” (183). What schools do not realize is just how damaging cutting back on physical activity is to children. While the school’s intentions may prove to be thoughtful for helping children understand topics more clearly, they fail to give children the opportunity to benefit from physical activity, give students an escape and improve academic performance. Therefore, state school boards should require schools to provide physical education for an hour per school day.

It is widely known that physical activity has many benefits, but many still wonder how much more beneficial physical education classes are than core classes such as math, science, and communication classes. While physical activity may not teach as many factual skills, it starts to develop life-long skills for children. According to Ginsburg, “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength” (183). Allowing children to play freely and develop their imagination has a great impact in the long run. For example, instead of being taught how to do something one way, developing their imagination allows them to think of different solutions and become better problem solvers.

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Not only does it help develop their imagination, but it builds up their confidence. In their imaginary world, they are the hero, and being able to solve problems builds up their confidence. If they were to be unconfident, it could lead them not to take on as many challenges in the future because they did not build up their confidence from a young age. Playing by themselves and with the family has plenty of benefits, but children learn the most when they exercise and play with peers. When children play with other kids they learn how to compromise, work as a team, understand rules, and adapt to other kids’ ideas. Not only can they adapt to other kids’ ideas, but instead learn to collaborate and work toward a common goal.

While there is an immense amount of benefits, exercise can provide an outlet for children. Most of us don’t realize the amount of pressure on some children’s shoulders or how rough their home life is. Many children may not have the time to be physically active outside of school as they have to help around the house or even work to help bring in income. Others may be going through a family dispute that makes their home life a nightmare. However, physical activity allows children to leave all of that behind and destress through exercise.

For instance, according to Zeyad Masroor Kahn, a rugby team in the slums of Delhi has turned children’s lives around. This rugby team consists of beggars, school dropouts, and residents of the slums. Afzal and Saif are both on the team and were once seen as school bullies. When they were unable to bully others, they would inflict self-harm. However, both players have turned their lives around because of rugby. They now teach others that it is not about winning and losing but rather winning and learning (Kahn). Afzal and Saif are perfect examples of how physical activity can turn your life around. By joining the rugby team, they have learned how to learn from mistakes and grow. Not only has it taught them important life skills, but it has given them a new life and passion that they had never seen.

Once you see the benefits of exercise for children, you may find yourself asking why are schools limiting physical education. According to Ginsburg, “Many schoolchildren are given less free time and fewer physical outlets at school; many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time committed to recess, the creative arts, and even physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics” (183). In reality, physical activity allows children to perform better academically. Exercise allows children to develop problem-solving skills on the fly while it also allows them to destress.

According to a study done by Stefanie Gall, physical activity increases academic performance. She performed a study on 663 children in South Africa on children ages eight to thirteen to see if there was a correlation between exercise and academic performance. Gall tested students on their twenty-meter shuttle and grip strength tests to see that children were remaining physically active. What she found is that the children who remained physically active had better academic performance (1-18). Gall’s study proves that even though some students may need extra help to understand a concept, it is more beneficial to allow physical activity as it increases academic performance.

As a solution, each state should require schools to provide students with sixty minutes of physical activity per day. Most school’s main argument is that by decreasing the number of physical education classes the better students will perform academically. While it proves to be thoughtful, Gall’s study shows just how important exercise is to academic performance.

Most states have a requirement of how much physical education must be provided to students. However, their requirements are not enough. According to “Educating the Student Body”, states such as Minnesota and North Dakota have policies in place that require physical education, but the responsibility of developing the program is left up to the district and superintendent respectively. In the state of South Dakota, there is not even a policy in place that requires physical education at any age (“Educating the Student Body” 430-460).

While states such as Minnesota and North Dakota do have policies in place, they are easy to get around the recommended sixty minutes of exercise per day. For instance, school districts and superintendents can get away with only implementing physical education systems for a semester at a time. Even while physical education systems are put in place that does not mean that they will be held for an hour either. For example, in middle school, my physical education class was only held for forty-five minutes every other day. States such as South Dakota need to implement a policy that requires schools to provide physical education as they do not require it at all. As a result, children may be more likely to become overweight as they do not have an opportunity to exercise in school.

While some states do a good job of providing physical education, many need to do a better job of laying down curriculum requirements. According to “Educating the Student Body”, states such as North Dakota and South Dakota do not have a curriculum to follow (452-460). With no curriculum, students are more likely to not get sixty minutes of exercise every day. Even if schools provide physical education, not all physical education units are interesting to every student. For example, if one student loves basketball and the unit is basketball, they are more likely to try hard and meet their requirement of sixty minutes of play. Whereas if a student is not interested in a unit, likely, that they will not put in any effort and get no exercise. Therefore, states should have a curriculum set in place that hit a variety of units to benefit as many students as possible.

Not only could the state require schools to implement physical education classes, but schools could also look to provide a variety of after-school programs. Along with providing a variety of programs, schools should look at their district’s economic status to help provide affordable after-school activities. There are a ton of students that would love to have the opportunity to be a part of a sports team but are unable because of financial reasons. This strips children of the opportunity to not only reach their physical activity level but the opportunity to feel a part of a team and create lifelong friendships. Providing affordable programs will allow all children to participate in after-school activities.

In conclusion, each state should require schools to provide physical education classes for sixty minutes a day. Not only should they require them to provide classes, but they should help implement a curriculum to appeal to all students. Physical activity is extremely important to the development of children. Whether it be developing problem-solving skills or confidence there are a ton of benefits exercise provides for children. Exercise does not only come with an immense amount of benefits but increases academic performance in children who remain physically active. Physical activity should be made a priority by schools as they encourage the development of children while increasing academic performance. Remember, kids don’t want to be drowned in information. Rather, kids just want to have fun.

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