This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help advocate for mandatory Physical Education In School. However, the experiences and opinions are always 100% my own as this post is written by me in its entirety.
The girls have attended a private preschool since they were each 18 months old. I love their preschool for so many reasons, the biggest reason is the amount of time they spend outdoors. I can safely say that throughout the week they spend more time outdoors than in. Emily starts Kindergarten next year, which has me thinking about a lot of things. Chatting with parents recently about physical education in school left me with more questions than answers.
Physical Education In School
You see, next year Emily will be attending a public school. And I know that things are just run differently. It’s been a long time since Jason, now in his 3rd year of college, was in public school. And an even longer time since I attended public school. I recall fondly all the time I spent as a kid outdoors for morning recess, PE and even after lunch. Weather permitting the teachers and school staff were eager to get us outdoors, for their sanity and our benefit.
Physical activity in general, but more importantly Physical Education in schools in particular, has a positive impact on children – physically, mentally and emotionally. When I inquired about the amount of physical education that is part of the children’s day in the local schools I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone. It’s almost as if it’s become a taboo topic – and likely because of the lack of it. Even though 95% of parents with children under the age of 18 think PE should be part of the school curriculum for all students K-12, it’s still not happening.
It’s going to be hard to explain to Emily why her day is going to be so different once she’s in school. Research shows kids need 60 minutes of physical activity per day and that is where PE programs can step in to help get them there. When I’ve spent hours at my desk working there is nothing more refreshing than taking a walk outside to unwind. It helps me to regain some focus back to the task at hand. But with only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools providing daily PE for the entire school year, how can we expect our children to succeed? PE exercises the body and the mind. Without it, our children’s health and well-being is at stake.
Protect PE in Schools
Just like art and music, resources for PE are often being cut from the budget, especially in neighborhoods with socioeconomic challenges. Kids shouldn’t have to miss out on the benefits of PE because of where they live. The federal education law, ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) ensures that all states develop a comprehensive plan so that ALL students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. While it mentions health and PE, it doesn’t stipulate its inclusion as mandatory, and without that schools won’t have access to available funding.
Children need more time to be children – and that’s where PE comes in. It allows them the freedom to explore the world around them all while helping improve their health. Unlike in NYC where we used to live and depend on weather, in Miami there is no reason that we aren’t making time for PE daily for our children in school. It’s time for our voices to be heard, loud and clear, it’s time to speak up on behalf of our children’s health and well-being. It’s time to ensure quality physical education as a part of every child’s education – and strengthen the connection between physical education and academic performance. I asked a few friends how much time their kids get each day for PE and some had no idea.
Do you know if your kids are getting enough PE? Protect PE by joining the PE Action Team at www.voicesforhealthykids.org/PE. Want to learn more about how you can work to increase PE in your community? Visit http://physicaleducation.voicesforhealthykids.org/. After all, many teachers will agree that children learn more through play and they’d love your help in achieving that.
Voices for Healthy Kids is a joint initiative of the American Heart Association® and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to engage, organize and mobilize people to improve the health of their communities and to help all children grow up at a healthy weight. Our vision at Voices for Healthy Kids is to see every child with healthy foods and drinks at home and in school, safe streets for biking and walking, and places to play after school. We are working to ensure that the places where children live, learn, and play make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active.
Make sure to join us for a #ProtectPE Twitter chat hosted by @Voices4HK on April 19th at 2pm.