Who remembers gym class in school? Did you like it? If you didn’t, it was probably because of the dreaded dodge ball game! No matter what, it was a break from the regular classroom, and we got to run around and get out of our seats for a while. What is the importance of physical education? What are the benefits and is it essential for your homeschool?
I believe physical education is very important for your homeschool, especially in today’s society. Most homeschool children are more active than the average public school child, but there are still a lot of benefits they can gain from adding more physical movement to their day. It’s just as vital as the other subjects they are doing.
Get a free downloadable cheat sheet with a physical education exercises list including links to websites and videos you can use at the end!
Increases Focus and Concentration
Many of today’s children are on a lot of devices, even if it’s just doing schoolwork on the computer. Studies show brain activity is very low when playing games and it isn’t being challenged in any way. We have all seen the child that gets off a device and has great difficulty concentrating afterward.
Physical education involves concentration and therefore, increases the ability to focus and believe it or not, block out distractions, which is a vital part of being able to complete schoolwork. Even for children who don’t get a lot of screen-time, extra focus and attention are always welcome.
Health Benefits and Increased Development
Not eating healthy food and sitting around stationary has caused childhood obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes to increase to an all-time high. When children are up and moving around, they are burning off those excess calories. They are converted into energy instead of being turned into fat. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep their body systems in check. Furthermore, physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, which supports the body to protect it from injuries and keeps the joints healthy as well.
Many children are not getting the required sleep for their age. This turns into sleepy children who are showing up at the school table very cranky and unable to perform well. Their bodies need time to restore while they sleep and prepare for the next day. Moving around and physically challenging the body is going to make them exhausted, which makes falling asleep at bedtime much easier and get better sleep throughout the night. The result is a happier child the next day.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
By the high school level, our children are experiencing some level of stress. Depression and suicide rates are on the rise. Whether it’s due to school, work, relationships, or even social media, it’s not good when there isn’t an outlet. Physical activity provides a great way to relieve it.
Exercise releases endorphins which give an overall feeling of well-being. It’s also a great way to help children take their minds off of things that may be bothering them. Thirdly, it produces deep breathing, which allows more oxygen to reach the brain. The extra oxygen increases blood flow, which enables the body to relax and unwind.
Helps Get Your Brain in Shape
Sadly while technology advances have improved many areas of our lives, it has also damaged our children’s brains in the process. They are now finding that even normal exposure to screen-time is causing a decrease in the gray and white matter of the brain. The effects can have quite an impact, and we need to be proactive about protecting their minds.
Research shows that as your child gets fit, so does his brain. There is a direct correlation between being in shape and improving mental function. Some benefits include better memory and creativity along with the focus and concentration I mentioned earlier. However, the most significant advantage is that it increases the gray matter in the brain. Because we can’t altogether avoid electronic devices and movement is a way to help reverse the negative effects, this point alone should be enough to help you understand what is the importance of physical education and make you want to include it in your child’s weekly schedule.
This is a Tedx Talk video that gives a great explanation about how physical education can dramatically increase a child’s academic skills. Paul Zientarski is talking about classes within a school setting but the concepts apply to homeschoolers as well.
How Much and What Kind of Activity
Children should be active for at least 30 minutes 3-5 times a week. This is a great goal to shoot for but even 10-15 minutes several times a week will have a positive impact. Combining different exercises with different levels of intensity will provide the body with the most benefits. These can be activities as simple as riding a bike, bouncing a ball in the driveway, jumping on a trampoline, playing tag in the backyard, or taking a walk down the street.
It can be more challenging to come up with physical education activities to do, especially during the winter months. I have created a free downloadable cheat sheet with a physical education exercises list including links to website and videos you can use. Fill out the form below and I’ll email it to you.
So what is the importance of physical education? Getting up and moving around improves the quality of life in many ways. It’s hard to set aside that time when you are in the middle of subjects you feel are essential, but scheduling it into your day will help you stick to it. Your child will be rewarded with better work, higher grades, a good mood, sound sleep, and the ability to stay on task. These all sound like a win to me!