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Coaches' Weekly Blog
 
15 October 2018

Physical Education (PE) is often seen as a marginal subject within the curriculum. Why is PE as important as any other school subject?

As coaches how can we make sure children understand the importance of PE, whilst also being fully engaged during lessons?
 

Chris Wright

When reading this blog topic the first thought was a book I am reading, "Spark - HOW EXERCISE WILL IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR BRAIN", Dr John J.Ratey and Eric Hagerman.

"In order for humans to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, humans can attain perfection"
-Plato

Physical Education lessons are important in its own right, but the use of daily activity is so under used and represented in the positive impact of daily school life. Our model has always been to use our subject as whole child development with a brief example below:

'Like clock-work' warm up. Children in small groups working on different types of passing whilst listening to instructions to move around grids forward or back in time.

Physical impact - Hand eye coordination and movement development
Cognitive impact - Thinking about where I need to move next, can I perform under chaos
Social impact - Communication within team and support of other groups around them
Personal impact - Listening to instructions and respect of group members
Creative impact - Can they find a new way to pass or move

Back to the book, it is a very intellectual read and lots of scientific research and programmes are discussed but one programme in particular has amazing results, where a high school re-designed their physical education programme and witnessed their academic results go through the roof.

In closing here is the back page summary:

"We all know exercise is good for the body. But did you know that it can transform your mind? This new scientific revolution will teach you how to boost brain cells, protect yourself against mental illness and dementia and ensure success in exams and the workplace".
 


Ross McGuire

Physical education is important because it helps students stay physically active, develop interests in different types of physical activity, build teamwork and other social skills, and improve focus and academic performance.

NHS.UK states that:
To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need to do:

  • at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day - this should range from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground activities, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis;

  • on 3 days a week, these activities should involve exercises for strong muscles and bones, such as swinging on playground equipment, hopping and skipping, and sports such as gymnastics or tennis.

Children and young people should also reduce the time they spend sitting for extended periods of time, including watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car when they could walk or cycle. Being active for at least 60 minutes a day is linked to better general health, stronger bones and muscles, and higher levels of self-esteem.

We as coaches should be making the children understand how important PE and physical activity is to them. Easy ways of doing this are to encourage and be positive in all of our sessions, don't make PE all about winning, create an environment that's all about movement, teach health and importance of exercise and to make sure all of the children are engaged throughout using small sided games. Also giving positive feedback towards the children is a must, as children love to show the skills they can perform during a session to the coach and rewarding them with positive feedback will make the child happier and encourage them to use those skills in the future.

Making sure you engage and keep your children's attention is very important as keeping them facing you and listening when you're talking is a must. Encourage the children to talk during the games and exercises, as they are always being told to be quiet during class and this is a chance for them to express themselves through sport.

 


Amy Lawless

Many people see PE as a low status subject where children spend time kicking a football or swinging a cricket bat in order to meet an aim set out by the national curriculum, with little belief that PE is helping to develop the child academically. My blog this week is going to explore just some of the reasons why this view on PE is incorrect and hopefully help to explain how PE can develop the whole child both in the schooling environment.

The first and most obvious benefit of PE is that it helps to develop a physically healthy child. Activities such as gymnastics or games that require jumping and balance have been shown to strengthen bones and build muscle mass, reducing the risk of injuries and damage to joints as the child grows. PE helps to increase physical activity levels throughout the day, improving cardio respiratory fitness, increasing aerobic capacity and creating a healthy heart. Research published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Sciences (2016), shows that children who take part in regular aerobic activity, activity that lasts for at least 20 minutes are more likely to have a healthier heart than those who don't, these activities include netball, football and skipping. Regular PE and fitness activity has also been shown to help with the absorption of key nutrients into the body and improve digestion.

Not only does PE help to create a physically healthy child, it also helps to create a psychologically healthy child. Sport and physical activity is known to have stress and anxiety relieving effects, however this is mostly discussed in relation to adults and is commonly overlooked in regards to a child's mental health, a mistake that can have major repercussions on a child's overall health and wellbeing. With the ever growing demand for children to pass SAT's, get into the best schools/colleges and deal with the daily pressures our now social media driven society places upon them it is no wonder why we are seeing more children suffer with stress/anxiety at such a young age. PE can take children out of the classroom and away from technology and provide them with an opportunity to be kids again. They can take part in activities in the outdoors with their friends where they are developing key motor skills, releasing mood boosting endorphins, learning about teamwork, increasing confidence and self efficacy whilst in a playful environment. Team based games/activities have shown an increase in a child's sense of belonging creating a healthier and happier child who is more likely to perform better in the classroom.

PE and regular physical activity throughout the school day has been proven to increase children's academic performance. Research by the Institute of Medicine (2013) found that exercise helps to increase basic cognitive functions by connecting neurons in the brain leading to an increased level of memory, attention and concentration in the classroom. The research also found that this increase in brain function following PE and physical activity resulted in an increase in the overall thinking ability of children and improved problem solving abilities, particularly in reading and mathematics.

 


Rob Jefferson

Physical Education is as important as any other school subject for a number of reasons.


In order to lead a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy body and mind, everybody needs to be taking part in physical activity, and PE lessons are the perfect environment to not only get children exercising but also shaping their lifestyle choices in the future as well. In this generation, many children have unhealthy diets which have led to high levels of obesity. Taking part in PE lessons gives children the opportunity to take part in physical activity and burn off any extra calories they might have.

Several studies have also shown that exercise can help stimulate the brain and improves the ability to focus and concentrate. In many schools you now see children completing the daily mile challenge every morning in order to steady the children's minds and get them ready to concentrate for the day's lessons. It has also been proven that exercise can relieve stress. Taking part in PE lessons can help children clear their mind if they become anxious over something and help them return to a relaxed state of mind.

I believe that as long as children are fully engaged in PE lessons, then they will see the benefits and improvements in their health. In order to improve their understanding of why PE is important, that could take place once the lesson is finished. This could be done during a reflective discussion, by asking questions as to how children feel? and why they might feel like that after exercise? Another way to improve understanding could be during lesson time. At Wright Sport Services we provide healthy workshop classes to schools in which children learn why it is important to have a healthy lifestyle, why exercise is important, what a balanced diet is and why it's also important and what impact it can have on children if they don't have one. This way children have some more information and knowledge when they make their lifestyle choices when growing up.

 


Ellie Hodgson

It has been proven through research undertaken by the Youth Sport Trust that 38% of English secondary schools actively reduce PE time for 14-16 year olds, to make way for what are deemed more "serious" or "important" subjects. This is because of the ever increasing pressure to produce high exam results, and instead of having time to burn off some stress, they are receiving extra tutoring on topics, not including PE.


PE is just as important as any other school subject. PE at any age helps children to understand the body and why they may feel a certain way, or why they may fluctuate in weight. PE promotes health and encourages life-long physical activity, which in-turn can have huge health benefits. Health benefits such as improve cardio-vascular and cardio-respiratory health and decrease the risk of heart and lung disease, maintain a healthy weight, decrease the risk of isolation, and decrease in stress and anxiety reducing the risk of depression, which is one of the single biggest killers in today's society. PE is praised for supporting cognitive and academic performances, which has a bigger impact on exam or SAT results, rather than over loading the brain and causing burnout before exams even take place. This proves PE is just as important as any other subject, as it allows time to de-stress, relax and have time away from other academic pressures.

PE looks at whole child development and at Wright Sport Services we adopt this approach in our coaching sessions, in terms of looking at developing children in cognitive, social, personal, physical and creative ways. We do this using certain skills and games or during our skeleton plan for the whole term. It is important that during PE lessons, we ask questions relating to how the children are feeling, and getting them to think about the importance of PE including how it is making them feel during and after. I truly believe that using this approach of connecting with the children during sessions, will allow them to see the benefits of PE and the improvements of their mood and academic studies, and adopt a life-long physical activity habit.
 

 
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