Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The “Butterfly Effect” of Physical Education

What’s the hardest thing about being a teacher? It’s not dealing with the principal, the parents or the students themselves. It’s not the pay or the hours, either. When you’re a teacher, especially a young teacher, the hardest thing is continually finding ways to inspire your students.

And it’s not for lack of trying; nowadays, students have smaller attention spans than ever, and inspiration is hard to come by. That problem is exponentially increased for physical education teachers, who also have to deal with robust rates of obesity among children (over 33 percent of children are overweight or obese). The problem here is difficult. In many cases, it’s the child who’s learned those habits from parents, and those habits are hard to break.

But all it takes is a tried-and-true PE program, one with the right PE equipment and physical education lesson plans to inspire students into achieving fitness.

When kids play fun games (even if they’re unaware of the active lesson) it’s beneficial for them. It’s even more beneficial when the games involve things that are familiar, like simple balls (footballs, soccer balls, or basketballs). The students can then perform at home the games they’ve learned at school. Parents can get involved, creating an atmosphere where athletics are welcomed instead of shunned at home. With any luck, the idea that sports can be played instead of watched will win the day, and the student will have changed his or her life course in terms of health.

All it took was one teacher who chose the right PE plan.

Physical education classes also have an affect on the child’s entire school day. With a bit of physical activity that gets the blood moving, the brain is more able to pay attention in class, and that squirmy, fidgety student is able to stay still and focus.

Once teachers around the school realize how beneficial it is to keep moving, perhaps they’ll be inspired in turn to integrate movement into their lesson plans.

Imagine an entire school using movement to keep their kids active, healthier and smarter.

If that happened, the school would produce more students who excelled at academics and athletics (instead of one or the other), which would catapult them into fantastic collegiate programs, earn them scholarships and give them a chance to become professionals in whatever field they chose.

And these days, there’s no substitute for a good college education. And believe it or not, it starts in elementary school. With one inspirational teacher.

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