Physical Education. Sports. Games. Whatever you call it, many schools let it slide down the priority list. And why not? It is far easier to see it as a “non-academic” area, and thus not a priority! This mindset ignores the many advantages to a firmly established place for structured play in the schedule. Same is the case with the excellent educational returns following an investment in playground equipment or sports facilities.
Childhood obesity is becoming a broader and broader problem. In 2016 the WHO estimated that globally, there were approximately 41 million obese children under the age of five. This figure is approximately equivalent to the population of Algeria.
It is certainly not realistic to expect schools to provide enough exercise to combat this entirely. Still, the data does show that putting physical education as a major part of the weekly schedule is important. A 2013 study corroborated the message. It found that an extra hour/week in a PE class lowered a 10-12-year old’s chances of being obese by 4.8%.
Hence, we strongly suggest schools reinforce the idea of physical activity as a central part of every student’s life. This, they can achieve by giving children space and equipment to enjoy sports during playtime.
Growing evidence from the past strongly suggests there is a link between education outcomes and children’s participation in physical exercises. In one study 287 Canadian schools redirected underperforming children into programmes featuring additional physical education. Consequently, they found substantially improved standardized test outcomes. Another study found that children who played the video-game Dance, Dance, Revolution during playtimes/recess saw dramatically improved performances in maths. This improvement was in contrast to those who didn’t.
This data goes far beyond mere correlations and has been moved into the realm of in-depth scientific study. One major explanation for the advantages offered by physical education is the growth in the basal ganglia of the brain among more active students. The basal ganglia are the areas of the brain linking themselves to an individual’s ability to focus on one thing at a time.
With more active children strengthening not only their bodies but their abilities to focus their minds, it is no small wonder educational outputs improve. These are advantages and enhancements schools cannot afford to ignore.
A new school can be a very imposing and un-nerving environment for younger children. Parents will obviously be your partners in this preparation, but they may find it difficult to ease their fears as they move either between different schools.
If a child can see the exciting times that sports classes and playtime will offer in the form of swings, pitches, nets, and other games areas, it gives them something to be excited about, re-framing the change of school as a new adventure.
Not all of a child’s development time happens between the bells. An investment in sports equipment can be very valuable in supporting extra-curricular activities. These are often very valuable in aiding a child’s sense of social development, allowing them to work towards a goal they have set for themselves, instead of one that the curriculum has put in front of them. This allows a child to enjoy sports, rather than making teachers thrust upon them.
When a school invests in sports equipment, it is not only available during the lessons and the school day. Other associations, societies, clubs, or organizations may be able to make use of the facilities. This can be an additional revenue stream for the school, as well as a chance for students to widen their social circles in an environment they are already familiar with. Blending the known and understood with the unfamiliar, it is the way any good school always should proceed ahead.
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