Make Your Case for Quality Physical Education
How Does It Work?
Research shows a connection between physical activity and brain activity. Not only does physical activity stimulate your brain, it can also help develop important skills like concentration and problem solving. So, making sure all students get enough activity is really important.
- Behavioral and Social Approaches to Increase Physical Activity: Enhanced School-Based Physical Education. 2013. Community Preventive Services Task Force.
- Physical Educator Resource Guide. 2013. Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
- Educating the student body: Taking physical activity and physical education to school (Report Brief). 2013. Institute of Medicine.
Huddle up with your school’s P.E. teachers to help plan your presentations and develop strategies for improving access to P.E.; your principal and other school administrators to give your plans a thumbs up and help make the changes you are seeking; teachers to listen to your ideas; parents to support your efforts; and students to take surveys. Draft at least one member of each group to form a team.
Make Your Case
Review the research information and the resources available in Tools and Resources. Specifically, check out the Presidential Youth Fitness Program’s Parent Resource Guide and the SHAPE America school physical education program checklist.
Talk with your P.E. teachers to find out what the current P.E. program includes and how active the teachers think students are during class. Ask for strategies to help students get more active and share your ideas with your team.
Survey students to find out what they would like to do in P.E. class that would be fun or get them more active. Take your information back to the team and talk about where your information overlaps with their ideas. Discuss the usefulness of personal goal setting and that all students can be successful when the focus is on health-related fitness.
Understand the key points of a quality physical education program. As defined by SHAPE America, a quality P.E. program consists of four key components:
- Opportunity to Learn including specific guidelines for time, attention to class size, teacher qualifications and equipment
- Meaningful Content focused on specific and sequential skills development in a variety of health and wellness areas
- Appropriate Instruction including full inclusion of all students, opportunities for practice in and out of class and regular monitoring of progress
- Assessment focused on a standards-based formative and summative program done in an ongoing way
Learn about the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP). This important program helps measure student “health-related fitness” — meaning it looks at how fit and healthy you are, not how you compare to other students. If your school isn’t participating, talk to your P.E. teachers about signing up. There are training opportunities for teachers, recognition options for students and funding opportunities for your school. The PYFP can help every student reach their “Healthy Fitness Zone.”
Show your stuff: Work with your P.E. teachers to create a presentation that students can “pitch,” or present, to your school principal, to classrooms, at PTA meetings or to groups of parents. Test-run some changes using the information you gather. Work with the P.E. teacher to make changes to P.E. instruction. Record the changes and interview the teachers and students about how the changes worked.
Get the word out: Meet with your team to plan a convincing promotional campaign for the school board to increase or improve the physical education program.
- Consider creating an entertaining and informative video to highlight why physical activity is a win-win-win for students, adults and the school.
- Get your adult champions to help you arrange a presentation at a school board meeting.
- Invite supporters of Fuel Up to Play 60 to attend the meeting in a show of support. At the meeting, emphasize your goals of promoting quality P.E. and its benefits to learning and long-term health.
- Explain how improving the physical education program at your school may lead to better grades, better attendance and long-term health and success for all students. Provide group members with handouts that share information about Fuel Up to Play 60 and the importance of daily physical activity using the Tools and Resources below.
Keep It Going
Look for ways to keep this program going and build on it — the goal is to make real, long-term changes in students’ habits.
- Set long-term goals for your P.E. program. Some things you may wish to track include the number of minutes students are active during physical education class, how many students are achieving their personal health fitness goals or the number of Presidential Youth Fitness Awards earned.
- Survey students annually about the P.E. program and what might make it more enjoyable for them. Remember — everyone’s got different likes and dislikes!
Spread the Word
Make signs and posters highlighting quality aspects of your school’s P.E. program. Take pictures and post them on the school’s website, on social media or in an eNewsletter.
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Arrange a meeting with the school’s key influencer groups
- Provide advocates and key audiences with Fuel Up to Play 60 information
- Provide parents with information about physical activity
- Encourage parents to support Fuel Up to Play 60 goals
- Attend meetings to advocate for your goals
Involve the community. Schedule a meeting with your school's parent organization and let them know what they can do to help.
Did You Know?
According to a CDC study, "Regular physical activity builds healthy bones and muscles, improves muscular strength and endurance, reduces the risk for developing chronic disease risk factors, improves self-esteem, and reduces stress and anxiety."