This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Think PE in schools isn’t important? Think again! Our kids learn so many important life skills in gym class that they will use throughout their entire lives. Yet so many schools have cut PE programs back to virtually nothing. My son goes weeks without gym class in his middle school. They alternate health and gym, so when he has health class, he doesn’t have PE. When it’s not a health rotation, he still only has PE a few times a week. It makes me sad because he really loves PE class and actually excels at it.
His school isn’t alone in cutting back PE classes. Did you know that only 8% of middle schools have daily PE classes? Once he hits high school, that number drops to 2%! I’m also not alone in feeling that it should be more of a priority. 95% of parents with kids under age 18 believe PE should be part of the school curriculum for all students from Kindergarten through senior year.
Why are so many schools lacking in a solid PE program? For some, it comes down to economics. Schools in certain parts of the country just don’t have the resources to fund PE. For others, like my son’s school, it comes down to time. Many schools are teaching to a standardized test, so all the focus goes into the courses that will appear on that test. It doesn’t leave much time for all the other classes they need to fit into a week.
Aside from giving our kids a good chunk of their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day, PE class has so many more benefits to our kids that go way beyond the four walls of a gym. Take a look at a few of the most important life skills our kids learn in gym class, then we’ll talk about what we, as parents, can do to save PE in schools.
Life Skills Learned in Gym Class
- Teamwork: The most obvious benefit of gym class, our kids learn how to work together as a team to accomplish a goal.
- Self-discipline: When you’re working towards a physical goal, it’s pretty much all on you. PE teachers can guide our kids and give them tips for reaching those goals, but ultimately, it’s up to our kids to follow through.
- Leadership: A great PE teacher will give every child the chance to be a team captain or leader. Not only does this help boost their self-esteem, but also gives them the opportunity to flex their leadership muscles to lead their teams to victory.
- Communication skills: The interpersonal skills learned in gym class go beyond verbal communication. Just watch any sporting event and you’ll see plenty of non-verbal cues that tell each member of the team what to expect. Kids learn from body language of both their own teammates and their opposition, a skill that will greatly benefit them in the workforce when they grow up.
- Positive methods for emotional release: PE teaches our kids how to release their anger, frustrations, sadness and other emotions by redirecting it into physical activity rather than negative releases like drugs and alcohol.
- How to lose gracefully: We can’t win everything all the time, and knowing how to be gracious when you lose is vital to our children’s futures. A loss not only teaches our kids how to act towards the winners but also how to reevaluate their strategy and learn from their mistakes.
Protect PE in Schools: Join the PE Action Team
Even without all the valuable life lessons that kids learn in PE, it’s still an incredibly beneficial class. Kids need physical activity not just for healthy bodies, but also for healthy minds. Check out this fabulous infographic from Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with more benefits of PE.
As parents, we need to be more vocal about making sure our children’s schools understand the value of PE. One way to do that is to write to your congressman, school board, and other leaders and ask them to make daily PE a core component in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). the federal education law that requires all states to develop a plan to make sure every student receives a fair high-quality education. As of now, while ESSA does include PE and health as part of that “well-rounded” curriculum, that law doesn’t mandate inclusion of PE classes. Basically, while PE classes COULD get access to significant federal funding, it has to actually be included in the plan to receive the money. Another way is to join the PE Action Team. Sign the petition to make PE a priority, then check out the toolkit for more resources to help you make your voice heard.
Want to learn more about how you can work to increase PE in your community? Visit http://physicaleducation.voicesforhealthykids.org/
Those are all very valuable lessons. I think teamwork is a life skill that will take them far!
I find that very shocking that your son’s middle school does not have a PE class regularly. Here in California junior high and high school are required to take PE classes and they’re very extensive and even tested on it. Now elementary kids don’t have PE every day and that is typically left up to the teacher to figure something out which is unfortunate because we have so many overweight children in the world .
These are very valuable skills that each kid should have in life. I think having all these skills will absolutely help them become the person that they ought to be when they grow up.
Belle | One Awesome Momma
You are right on with ALL these great reasons why PE is amazing. Its sad about how things are prioritized in our country’s national educational dept. Anyway – love the part especially about losing gracefully. So great to learn that just in a regular PE class to transfer to other situations. Life lessons…
This is an awesome post! I love the title and idea around the content. It’s so true that our children can learn a lot from gym class.
The school system here actually has it set up with starting in kindergarten, they only do pe 3 days a week, the other days are art and music class. And they wonder why the kids have issues sitting still?! That’s the beauty of homeschool, my daughter breaks all the time to dance for a few minutes or swing on the swing set.
I loved gym when I was younger. I learned various sports and the history behind them like basketball and volleyball. Not only did it keep me in shape but as you mentioned it teaches great leadership skills, team work and collaboration!
I loved gym class growing up and it’s sad that some schools want to get rid of it. The presidential challenge was my favorite. Great facts!
Gym class is great as it teaches valuable lessons and gives children great characteristics that will shape them to be great adults. Especially leadership skills and teamwork.
It’s nice to have a class that helps develop their leadership and social skills. They can use that when they grow up and work with people. I honestly think PE is really important and it should be kept in the curriculum.
I will never understand why schools are getting rid of PE. Kids need the release. They need to go outside and run around and play. They also need to be active and keep their little bodies healthy.
I had no idea that they had cut down on PE. I did not enjoy it per say but I do think it is important to be active!
I feel like my kids do not get enough time in PE. It’s sad. When they sit all day in school, PE is so important to get them active and get their energy out!
Gym is so important! Thanks for the reminder to encourage my children to play outside more.
I have to say, I hated PE as a kid. I was an athlete and having that class all years was too much. I do agree that PE in school can help kids get that 1 hour of activity they need.
Gym and PE was my favorite part of pre-k to senior year of highschool! I’m really shocked that they do not have the funding for it. I think a solution would be to have the regular teachers rotate if they can’t afford a gym teacher.
I’ll admit that I hated PE as a child, especially since I wasn’t good at sports and was often teased about it. I do understand how PE is beneficial in a myriad of ways, though.
Totally agree! I have always loved P.E and so does my little guy, it definitely helped him socialise and his sports clubs help him burn off some much needed energy so he can focus better on learning!
This is a fab infographic! When I was a kid I absolutely hated PE but I can definitely see the benefits of it! x
I agree that PE is great for kids to get out there energy and to keep active. I hope my kids PE teachers are teaching them all the skills you listed because I don’t recall learning any of that in PE lol.
Gym class is so important! I can’t believe how some school districts are cutting it out.
i had so much fun in gym class, i only hope my kids have the same fun
It bums me out to see the pathetically low stats re: daily gym classes in our schools. Phys ed offers SO many benefits to kids.
I was an elite gymnast growing up so I know all about this. You are spot on! I hope that my daughter will want to participate in sports as well. 🙂
Great post. I couldn’t agree more. The arts get a lot of recognition (rightfully so) when discussing extracurricular activities, but physical activity and the lessons you learn are just as important to your health and well-being.