How Physical Education Helps Your Child

The Central Board Of Secondary Education has mandated the inclusion of physical educations classes in its curriculum. We tell you how exactly these classes benefit your child.

By Varsha Venkatesh

How Physical Education Helps Your Child

Between school, tuition classes and competitive exam coaching, children today hardly have any time for physical activities. Excessive emphasis on school work and academics is unhealthy for your child and a lack of physical activity can lead to stress and obesity.

In order to ensure that children receive a wholesome schooling experience, the Central Board of Secondary Education has mandated that schools must include health and physical education classes from standard 9 to standard 12 students. In a circular published by the CBSE in March 2018, titled Mainstreaming Health and Physical Education, the Board mentions that one of the objectives of integrating health and physical education in schools is ‘to develop awareness regarding the importance of physical fitness in individual and social life including life skills’.

Benefits of physical education classes

There are many benefits to incorporating physical education in your child’s daily life. Here are some of them:

Helps achieve academic excellence

The quality of your child’s health greatly affects their ability to focus learn understand memorise and repeat. “Sitting on rickety benches for long hours during exams require physical strength and mental stamina,” says Dr Haridas, who holds a masters degree in physical education from YMCA.

“It is common to see children developing poor posture in classrooms resulting in chronic back pain and loss of concentration” he adds.

Boosts brain power

Being physically active not only keeps the body fit but also makes the brain active. According to a research ‘Effects of Physical Activity on Children’s Executive Function: Contributions of Experimental Research on Aerobic Exercise’ published in the ‘Developmental Review’ (2010) the author John R Best suggests that physical activity, like aerobics, helps in better cognitive development. The study states: ‘Recent experimental research indicates that both acute and chronic aerobic exercise promote children’s executive function. Executive function refers to the cognitive processes necessary for goal-directed cognition and behaviour, which develop across childhood and adolescence’. So, these children perform well in academics compared to their less physically active peers in class.

Develops motor skills

Playing games help children develop their motor skills and achieve better movement coordination and balance. Physical education is one class that truly helps your child get stronger, more coordinated and focused by building cognitive and motor skills. The skills learnt during running, stretching, catching, hitting and throwing are building blocks for the all-round development of the child.

Relieves stress

Exercise or indulging in any physical activity is a great stress reliever. High school students often go through a lot of stress because of academic pressure, peer pressure, homework, tuition, projects etc. Without physical activity, it becomes difficult for them to relieve their stress and then they start losing their focus. Being involved in sports and recreational activities also helps build confidence and a sense of competence.

As per a study titled, ‘Physical activity and stress resilience: Considering those at-risk for developing mental health problems’ by Nicole J Hegberg and Erin B Tone published in 2014, ‘individuals with high trait anxiety, which may be a risk factor for developing clinically significant mental health problems, may preferentially show psychological, as well as physiological, benefits from physical activity’.

Improves immunity

Having a sedentary lifestyle is not unique to adults. Children are spending more and more time behind screens today. But, children who get adequate movement and exercise are generally happier and immune to common diseases. They don't easily fall sick or suffer from depression or anxiety. It is a great way to ensure and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Helps forge character

Being involved in sports helps cultivate qualities like fairness, self-discipline, courage, persistence and respect. It also helps children develop social and communication skills, which enables them to become good team players. Early influence of sports supports character development and helps children become responsible adults.

Promotes good eating habits

Good nutrition is the building block of a child's health and well-being. Physical education classes are an excellent time for the children to understand the connection between the food they eat and how it affects their body. It also helps them make educated decisions regarding their health in the long run.

Should physical education classes be compulsory?

Yes, because they ensure all-round development of a child. These classes also help children make informed decisions regarding their health in the future.

  • When to make an exception?

Some children may need certain considerations and exemptions before participating in sports and extracurricular activities. This could be based of the child's physical abilities or medical reasons. But, even if the child is physically sick or injured, he can benefit from physical education classes by gaining knowledge on how to better manage his health.

What schools need to do

Physical education teachers have limited freedom regarding how the curriculum is taught in schools. The schools must, therefore, model the structure of a class incorporating relevant and updated information on all health and fitness issues. Instead of focusing exclusively on activity or game time, a physical education class should also analyse and evaluate how different groups of students can benefit from the curriculum.

The ultimate goal of a physical education syllabus is to understand, develop and maintain fitness and well-being of every student in the school. Therefore, the assessments should be reported same as any other subject in school.

When you teach the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to kids from a young age, they develop habits that continue to nourish them throughout their lives. And, a class on physical education helps in achieving that goal in a significant way.

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