Teaching Health & Physical Education - Everyday is the way
In a world where technology and innovation dominate, the importance of Health and Physical Education is often overlooked. However, this subject is essential for the well-being of students and their future success. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why teaching Health and Physical Education is crucial and how literacy is the foundational skill upon which all knowledge is built.
Why should students learn Health and Physical Education? The answer is simple. Health and Physical Education promote the physical, social, and emotional development of students. It helps students to develop a positive attitude towards their physical and mental health, which is essential for leading a healthy and successful life. Furthermore, physical education helps students to improve their coordination, balance, and strength, which is essential for participating in sports and other physical activities and promotes life-long physical learning.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents who are physically active have better academic performance, better classroom behaviour, and higher self-esteem. Moreover, regular physical activity reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Curriculums around the world clearly recognise the importance of teaching literacy in Health and Physical Education. For students from Kindergarten to Year 10, the aim is for students to develop the skills that will enable them to access and process information as it relates to the many aspects of their health in their lifetime and to advocate for their own and others’ needs. Of course, to do this, they must achieve set outcomes across reading, viewing, writing, comprehension and vocabulary. This is where Physical Education teachers are vital.
Rather than teaching their students to read, or testing them on general spelling skills, the Health and Physical Education teacher plays the role of supporting their students in ensuring they are accessing appropriate material, understanding what is presented and critically analysing such material for the purpose of applying it to a worldlier context – This is the development of life skills.
Another example of recognition of the importance of literacy in the study of Health and Physical Education is the development of a new curriculum in this New York School District from elementary through to secondary schooling. The program aimed for students to achieve physical literacy, which would contribute to successful and rewarding lifestyle benefits immediately and in later life.
Within the teaching of physical education, the study behind this new program identified the five strands at the subject’s core:
1. character development
2. intelligence/cognitive development
3. lifestyle development
4. health-related fitness
5. motor performance
It was determined at the beginning of the study that the first three strands were overshadowed by the last two in H.P.E. lessons. The work put into creating a new curriculum to address this led to higher levels of students’ understanding of concepts taught and a sharing of teaching techniques to improve literacy outcomes across other content areas not traditionally thought to be responsible for literacy teaching.
To support the importance of teaching literacy in Health and Physical Education, leading researchers have made the following statements:
"Physical education teachers have the opportunity to enhance students' literacy skills by providing meaningful literacy experiences through physical education." - National Association for Sport and Physical Education
"Teachers should use physical education to improve students' literacy skills, particularly in reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and critical thinking." - American Association for Health Education
“The road to literacy truly runs through every classroom, whether it has desks and chairs, or merely lines on the floor.” - Sara Daggett, United Liverpool Faculty Association
Teaching Health and Physical education is essential for the well-being of students and their future success. It helps students to develop a positive attitude towards their physical and mental health, improves their coordination, balance, and strength, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, literacy is the foundational skill upon which all knowledge is built. Without literacy, it would be challenging for students to learn any other subject, including Health and Physical Education. As such, teaching literacy in Health and Physical Education can help students to understand health information, make informed decisions about their health, and lead healthy lifestyles – which is the main game of what all of us HPE teachers are after.