Category Archives for Physical Education

The History of Physical Education in the United States

Physical education history traces back to ancient Greece, but it exists all over the world today. Starting from a young age, children need to engage in regular physical activity to develop their minds and bodies. In the United States, P.E. is a crucial component of early childhood education, laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.

Introduction to Physical Education

Physical education benefits a growing individual’s mind and body. Increasing physical activity allows students to focus more in school, prevents injury and disease, improves their self-esteem, and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, among other mental health benefits.

Even if they do not have daily P.E. class, students still benefit from learning about their body and ways to move. From there, they can nurture personal interests in different forms of activity, such as competitive sports, running, yoga, dance, or any other exercise type that they can commit to regularly.

The Evolution of Physical Education

In 386 B.C., P.E. began in ancient Greece. Plato is the one who invented physical education, hosting classes at his school titled Akademia. He understood the importance of teaching children about physical fitness, and students began learning it at age seven. Plato was a skilled wrestler, and he believed that education and physical activity combined helped one attain perfection.

Physical training helped prepare students for careers as warriors or athletes. Common sports included wrestling, boxing, and chariot races. Physical education classes helped progress Greek society, and eventually, word of them spread throughout the world.

P.E. for the American Soldier

It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that physical education started in the United States. Similar to Athens education, P.E. trained and educated soldiers for battle. After the American Civil War, schools enacted laws necessitating physical education programs in public schools to prepare future generations for war.

Nonetheless, schools eventually used these classes to take health seriously and offered more attention to physical health and development. World War I showed that ⅓ of military recruits were physically unfit for combat. The government then passed legislation to improve the quality of these courses.

Committing to America’s Children

By World War II, physical education became common for men and women to cultivate their physiques for combat and manual labor. Since the military draft rejected some men from childhood malnutrition, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the National School Lunch Program to improve children’s nutrition.

Soon after, a national fear arose concerning the rapid weight gain of American children. President John F. Kennedy became an advocate for physical education and fitness in America, campaigning for it even before his election. Once in office, the President made it a goal to improve the nation’s physical fitness levels.

President Kennedy created a White House Committee on Health and Fitness. This committee had an annual Youth Fitness Congress with every United States governor. Incorporating the federal and state governments ensured the American people would recognize the national need for reform.

Many colleges also began offering courses to help students understand the human body, improve their physical capabilities, and increase their self-worth. Initially, girls leaned towards gymnastics as boys engaged in rougher sports. In 1975, the U.S. House of Representatives created an amendment to the Federal Education Act to prevent gender discrimination in physical education. Women could participate in more sports in their schools.

Physical education programs have expanded to inform students of all aspects of fitness, including strength, flexibility, endurance, body composition, and nutrition. Learning the basics of these pillars encourages a life of health and wellness. Imbalances may lead to injury and illness, but working on each of these areas reduces the risk of all-cause mortality, improves mental health and cognitive performance, and increases the quality of life.

At this time, 95% of high schools, 84% of middle schools, and 69% of elementary schools require physical education in the United States. Of the 50 states, 38 require school districts to follow physical education standards laid out in the National Standards for Physical Education, and 43 states have made physical education a mandatory part of the curriculum.

These national standards for physical literacy in K-12 physical education include:

  1. Having competence in various movement patterns and motor skills
  2. Applying knowledge of tactics, principles, concepts, and strategies related to performance and movement
  3. Showing the necessary skills and knowledge to acquire and keep a beneficial degree of physical activity and fitness
  4. Displaying responsible behavior socially and personally that respects themself and others
  5. Recognizing the benefits of physical activity for health, challenge, social interaction, personal expression, and enjoyment

Timeline of the History of Physical Education

  • Mid-1700s: Johann Bernhard Basedow, a German reformer, saw the benefits of physical activity firsthand and introduced it into the school curriculum. He also worked to modernize gymnastics.
  • Early 1800s: Johann Cristoph Friedrich introduced systematic physical exercises in German schools. He also developed gymnastics principles and published the first gymnastics textbook.
  • 1810: Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the father of modern gymnastics, introduced many gymnastics activities into schools.
  • 1811: Jahn’s Berlin school began promoting gymnastics to other schools, developing gymnastics clubs around Europe.
  • 1820: Round Hill School became the first school to have a physical education curriculum, although it was primarily geared towards male students.
  • 1823: Catherine Beecher founded an early form of aerobics.
  • 1825: Charles Beck became the first official American P.E. teacher who taught German gymnastics.
  • 1825: Charles Follen opened the first college gym at Harvard University and the first public gym in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1861: The Normal Institute of Physical Education was founded in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1878: Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent started a high school gymnastics club, later instructing gymnastics at Yale College.
  • 1885: The American Physical Education Association was founded to support physical education in schools.
  • 1885: William G. Anderson held a meeting to form the Association for Advancement of Physical Education, training people to become professional physical educators.
  • 1896: First modern Olympics in Athens sparked many people’s interest in physical fitness.
  • Early 1900s: Many states passed physical education legislation requiring physical training in schools.
  • 1917: The American Physical Education Association created a Women’s Athletics committee to stimulate women’s interest in fitness.
  • 1950: Most United States colleges offered majors in physical education.
  • 1953: The Kraus-Weber tests stated that American children were less fit than European children.
  • 1955: President Eisenhower formed the Council on Youth Fitness in reaction to the Kraus-Weber test results.
  • 1957: The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance established the Youth Fitness Test.
  • 1961: President Kennedy reforms the Council on Youth Fitness into the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
  • 1972: Title IX banned sexual discrimination in schools for academics and athletics.
  • 1981: AAHPERD developed another health-related physical fitness test.
  • 1994: The nation established the Physical Best fitness testing program.
  • 2000: Congress approved the Physical Education for Progress Act bill.
  • 2001: Bush Administration imposed a moratorium on the PEP bill.
  • 2010: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama established a Task Force on Childhood Obesity and began the Let’s Move program to improve national health and increase physical activity.

Final Thoughts

As many schools continue to participate in distance learning, in-person physical education classes have taken the backseat. However, the rich physical education history displays just how imperative it is for molding young minds.

Physical education offers countless physical and mental health benefits. Not only does physical activity reduce your risk of disease, but it can also improve your grades and concentration in school. During these changing times, physical education will continue to evolve. Nevertheless, its importance remains paramount in ensuring our children’s health and society’s betterment as a whole.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

Physical Education Classes and Distance Learning: Can They Coexist?

The Coronavirus is creating serious challenges for educators across the country, and physical education teachers are far from immune. New social distancing standards and mask mandates make it difficult for school districts to provide meaningful in-school learning experiences both in regular classrooms and during physical education. While some states and cities are back to in-person schooling, others chose to adopt hybrid or entirely distanced learning environments.

Participating in online learning for physical education is uncharted territory for most teachers, students, and families. So, can P.E. classes and distance learning genuinely coexist? The answer is a definitive yes. In fact, running virtual physical activity programs can actually help improve other areas of a student’s life. Let’s take a closer look at how distance learning during Coronavirus can help keep students engaged and healthy in such strange, uncertain times.

Physical Education Facilitates Learning

It’s proven that physical education can positively impact student’s learning in other areas of study. Having a healthy and fit body during formative years can help improve other aspects of education. An active lifestyle is often responsible for:

  • Better brain cognition
  • Improved test scores
  • Higher grades overall
  • Increased concentration and attention span
  • Keeping kids engaged during other classes
  • Fostering confidence to answer questions
  • More accurate responses to in-class questions

Physical activity helps the brain function more efficiently and effectively overall. Plus, science shows that fitness plays a significant role in keeping kids mentally fit as well. Quarantine and isolation are attributed to negatively impacting young people’s mental wellbeing. Many children went weeks or months without seeing their school friends and favorite teachers. It’s no surprise that so many students are experiencing mental health struggles during the pandemic.

That’s why it’s crucial that children continue to participate in physical education classes during the pandemic, even if an online environment is the only outlet. Healthy minds and bodies will motivate students to make it through this strange time in the world’s history.

Adapting to the Difficulties of Distance Learning

Some physical educators are struggling with the switch to distance learning. Although at first, it may seem difficult to adapt to online learning, there is an abundance of resources available for physical education providers. For the most part, schools are sticking to these three main tools to supply schooling online:

  • Google Classroom or Google Meets
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams

With any of these tools, it’s easy to integrate engaging virtual learning activities into your online physical education curriculum. If you need new ways to get kids excited about online physical education, there is no shortage of services to assist you. Explore these unique options to find fun features for your online classroom:

1. YouTube

One of the most accessible online tools available to teachers is YouTube. Although it’s not entirely dedicated to educational resources, you can still search this site for engaging videos that keep kids active and involved during online learning sessions.

Utilize YouTube to find fitness videos ranging from guided yoga or pilates to more intense exercise routines. With so much variety available, it’s easy to incorporate unique activities into your virtual curriculum. Switch things up and show students highlights from history-making sports games or teach them a new skill with comprehensive how-to videos. There’s no question that kids are already acquainted with the online tool, so they’ll enjoy having access to a familiar application during this time of uncertainty. The downside to these videos is that they may not be directed to students, and may be inconsistent rather than a consistent progression of learning.  Always keep this in mind when researching these resources.

2. Virtual Physical Activity Programming From Skillastics

Finding an online tool that easily integrates with online and in-person learning might seem challenging, but it’s quite simple in reality. Thanks to Skillastics’ innovative Virtual Physical Activity Programming, physical education providers can offer a wide variety of virtual activities that easily transfer to on-site learning.

This virtual tool is designed to accommodate an array of online learning platforms, including Google Classroom or Meets, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and even Canvas. Transform your physical education curriculum with an impressive range of offerings from Skillastics. Virtual physical activity programs available include:

  • Kickboxing
  • Basketball
  • Mindfulness
  • Martial Arts
  • Move N’ Groove
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Sport Stacking
  • STEM and Sports
  • And many more!

Your students will love to play with Skillastics’ virtual physical activity programs during online sessions. Plus, when transitioning back to an on-site environment, they’ll be happy to recognize the virtual games as part of their daily routine.

3. SHAPE America

If you’re still struggling with the transition to online learning, there’s no need to worry. With help from SHAPE America, you can easily find resources to assist you in adapting to online physical education classes. This organization supplies excellent ideas and unique methods to help transition to teaching through a screen.

The SHAPE America site offers helpful tips and tools to physical education teachers. Content is regularly updated, so educators can always find something fresh to get kids up and moving during online physical education classes.

Conclusion

Adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic has posed serious difficulties for physical education providers. Luckily, there is a wide range of resources available to help teachers transition to distance learning.

With all of these fantastic tools and fun online activities, it’s evident that physical education and distance learning are coexisting just fine. Although it’s not the ideal situation, it is better to be safe than sorry and keep students secure at home as the pandemic continues to affect our country. Share the benefits of being active with your students even while remaining out of the classroom using virtual activities from platforms like YouTube or providers such as Skillastics. Students will soon be back in their typical learning environments, but physical education and online classrooms can continue to coexist until then.

CLICK HERE for the Skillastics® COVID Safety Guidelines.

To learn more about social distancing while staying physically active, email mailto:info@skillastics.com or call us today at (888) 842-7746.  For more resources to manage remote physical activity programs, head to www.skillastics.com.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

3 Smart Ways To Social Distance While Playing Skillastics®

We have all had to adjust to social distancing and learn to stay apart – as uncomfortable or odd as that may feel.  Sometimes, we forget that distance does not equate to isolation; we don’t need to be totally separate, just 6 feet. There is a big difference between social distance and social isolation. There is still much we can do from 6 feet apart!

Schools can still offer physical activity programs that get kids involved. With a few modifications, children can participate in many ways while still maintaining social distancing.

Here are just three ways that this can work:

1. Small Group Team Space

Children work well and learn best in groups. The ability for kids to share information and learn from one another is a powerful learning tool. When it comes to physical activities, it’s also much more fun. Since social distancing in large groups is difficult, small groups are optimal for maintaining distance while still participating in Skillastics activities. The large playing mat effortlessly defines the space and allows students to spread out around the board, keeping their distance from other kids.

2. Partners From 6 Feet Away

In partnerships, children can mirror one another to learn steps, help one another remember rules, and share their successes. The ability to partner gives kids more socialization and better opportunities to learn. As partners, kids can have fun while participating in physical activities and staying safe. Children in pairs can easily maintain their 6 feet. They can even work into their partnership a “watch-out” for their distancing to help each other stay apart.

3. Well-Defined Play Space

It can be hard to remember to keep distance, and some children may have difficulty remembering. The large play mat is an excellent visual reminder and placeholder to keep kids apart. Two students playing simultaneously have an easier time staying on opposite sides of the mat, and taking turns encourages children to stop and think about their spacing. The mat is also easy to clean after use with a simple sanitizing spray and wipe-down.

Finding A Way

We have come far learning about ways to stay safe, and it’s clear that masks, social distance, and handwashing keep us healthy. We can work within these new requirements to continue our lives, even if it’s not exactly the same or feels different. We can work with this! It’s a matter of staying aware, making smart choices, and putting safety first.

Skillastics Large Group Physical Activities has always offered kids a way to have fun while getting active, but it’s also become a safe alternative for keeping kids healthy, both physically and during COVID. The large play mat and a few modifications mean kids can still be active and stay safe.  

CLICK HERE for the Skillastics® COVID Safety Guidelines.

To learn more about social distancing while staying physically active, email mailto:info@skillastics.com or call us today at (888) 842-7746.  For more resources to manage remote physical activity programs, head to www.skillastics.com.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource.  Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it.

Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time.  There are 14 different Skillastics® Activity Kits ranging from general fitness, sport-skill development, SEL, and academic enhancement.

The newest layer of Skillastics Resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity Programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, Mindfulness, Basketball, and much more.

5 Fun Fitness Tips for Your YMCA Program

It’s no easy task to engage children and teens in an active lifestyle. In recent years, as toddlers clutch tablets and keep their eyes glued to screens constantly, there has been a sharp uptick in incidences of childhood obesity. Young people desperately need exercise and healthy eating habits to achieve an overall sense of well-being and avoid severe health issues in their adulthood. After school activities or programs at the local YMCA can encourage kids to find the fun in fitness and healthy lifestyle habits.

How “The Y” Has Helped Families for Over 175 Years

The Young Men’s Christian Association, better known as the YMCA or “The Y,” was founded in 1844 on the principles of developing and maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. The YMCA has served over 45 million people in the last 176 years, and there are active programs in over 120 countries worldwide. You’ll likely find that your local YMCA offers a variety of programs for young kids and teens that emphasize the importance of improving several aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including:

  • Physical fitness
  • Art and creativity
  • Humanities
  • Social skills
  • Sexual health and education
  • Healthy diet choices

For nearly two hundred years, the YMCA has helped families across the world encourage a healthy, active lifestyle and mindset in their children. With fun, engaging programming, kids can feel empowered to take control of their body’s health.

5 Fun Fitness Tips for Your YMCA Program

Building healthy habits start in early childhood. Exercise is essential to the healthy development of children’s bodies and minds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children and adolescents receive one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. One fantastic resource for incorporating fitness into children’s lives is through fun programs at a nearby YMCA location.

Integrate fun exercises and fitness activities into your YMCA programming, so children start to associate enjoyment with movement. Establishing health-conscious attitudes early on will (hopefully) lead to a lifetime of love for physical activity.

1. Set Goals

Setting specific goals for physical fitness helps kids to stay focused during different YMCA programs. Work with your program participants to set realistic, flexible, and achievable goals. When participants reach their goals, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that inspires them to continue setting personal fitness goals outside of your program. Remember to celebrate the small wins and encourage each child as they continue to improve their physical fitness.

2. Go for Group Activities

Children learn a lot from their peers as their brains and bodies develop. Solitary exercise is still vital to a person’s overall well-being. However, group activities allow children to receive external affirmation and motivation. Group activities push your program participants to reach their greatest potential.

Utilize group activity kits for your YMCA program, which teaches kids about the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits, all in a fun and inspiring manner. A wide array of activity kits are available that focus on educating children about sports, nutrition, STEM, language, social skill, and self-improvement. Kids gain a lot of inspiration from each other when playing and exercising in groups. It’s a fantastic way to sharpen children’s social skills while strengthening their physical fitness as well.

3. Instill a Love for Sports

Something we know to be universally true is that people love sports. On every continent, you’ll find sprawling sports stadiums packed with fans on any given weekend. Every two years, the world stops to watch the best athletes compete in the summer and winter Olympic games. There are teams in almost every major U.S. city dedicated to playing baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and more.

These world-famous athletes didn’t pick up a ball later on in life and simply walk onto the field with immense skills. Their love for sports started from a young age, and they were encouraged to continue working on their skills throughout adolescence. The perfect place to start instilling a passion for sports early on is at the YMCA.

Encourage your program participants to take part in a variety of different sports to find one they love. The YMCA offers an excellent opportunity for kids to try out activities they might not otherwise have access to at home. If you notice a child taking particular interest in a specific sport, you can encourage them to seek out more serious teams in the area for them to join.

4. Make Time for Mindfulness

Healthy lifestyles hinge on much more than just exercise and nutrition. The YMCA was founded on the premise that people should better their bodies and their minds together. There’s a significant correlation between adequate physical fitness and improved mental health, so consider incorporating mindful exercises into your program. There are a variety of exercises you can utilize to motivate your participants to engage in mindfulness, including:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Pilates
  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises

5. Turn Playtime Into Exercise

It can be challenging to get kids involved in activities that are apparent modes of exercise. Things like running and lifting weights can seem unappealing to young people. Luckily, you can easily integrate exercise into your YMCA program without the participants even realizing it. No, this is not a trick; it’s simply the truth. There are tons of fun ways to turn playtime into an opportunity for physical fitness. Children won’t even notice that they’re burning off calories and strengthening their bodies because the following activities are so fun and engaging:

  • Jump-rope or double dutch
  • Playing tag
  • Capture the flag
  • Juggling
  • Musical chairs
  • Dancing
  • Simon Says

In the age of technology, some children might not even know these games exist. Your YMCA program is an excellent opportunity to teach kids classic games that involve running, jumping, and increasing their heart rates.

Conclusion

Exercise is essential in improving children’s physical and mental well-being. Participating in fitness activities and programs at places like the YMCA helps children develop a wide range of useful skills that last a lifetime. These programs provide children with a safe place to improve their social skills, motor skills, and lifestyle habits. Shop for new and exciting fitness activities to implement into your YMCA programming regularly so children can learn just how fun (and important) daily exercise is for their bodies and minds.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

Five Key Reasons Why Continuing Virtual Physical Activity Learning On-Site Is So Important

Everyone looks forward to the day when students can go back to school full-time. Parents, teachers, and students alike will be elated to return to normalcy!

Still, there are benefits to virtual learning that we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss. Even though we are excited for in-person learning and after school programs again, it shouldn’t mean that all virtual learning must disappear.

Here are five key reasons why it’s vital to keep virtual learning as part of After School Programs for Physical Activity:

1. An Affordable Long-Term Option

Budgets for after school programs may not always have room for a one-time specialist to work with students, and they may not have the ability to reliably re-hire someone each year. Worse, these budgets are often the first on the chopping block for cutbacks. By contrast, the Skillastics Virtual Physical Activity Programs are a fraction of the cost and can be used for years to come.

2. A Safe Option for Uncertain Times

Unfortunately, it’s become more apparent that the concerns of COVID-19 will continue to be around for some time; we will have to account for safeguards long-term. Children must maintain social distancing on-site. The flexibility of a virtual program allows creative uses so that programs can be used by home learners or onsite. For example, students can easily spread out in a gym and conduct physical activities led by the Skillastics Virtual Physical Activity experts from a shared screen or projection against a wall.

3. Better Quality Instruction

Maintaining a virtual physical activity program provides a connection to high-quality resources. Rather than substitute staff or teachers struggling to overcome an online learning curve, students receive proper, expert instruction when the regular instructor or format is not available. Rather than figuring out a new activity for students to learn, readily available on-demand lessons offer a wide variety of activities. A virtual physical activity program can be more robust and better quality than temporary or fill-in resources, whether conducted at home or on-site learning.

4. Conduit to Group Activities

Students without exposure to sports may never learn the rules of the games, leaving them behind when it comes to participating in group activities. Virtual learning allows children to bridge any learning gaps and creates a perfect segue into group activities. Independently, a student can learn all the fundamentals of basketball through Skillastics 30-Day Basketball Program. After students have learned ball-handling, dribbling, shooting, passing, and defense virtually, they will be more confident to participate in basketball games when the time comes.

5. More Than the Garden Variety

A significant advantage of maintaining a virtual physical activity program is the ability to move past the “usual” activities. The variety of Skillastics Virtual Physical Activity Programs exposes students to activities that they may never have thought to try or have access to in their area. This promotes lifelong physical activity options for all children of all abilities.

When On-Line Takes Place On-Site

Providing virtual physical activity programming on-site improves the lives of your staff, students, and anyone who manages programs. Email us today to discover how on-site virtual physical activity increases student participation and takes the worry away about engaging children.

Call (888) 842-7746 or email info@skillastics.com now – www.skillastics.com

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

Three Resources To Help With Physical Activity Amidst COVID-19

Before COVID-19 hit the United States, children had opportunities built into their school day to receive plenty of movement. Recess, physical education classes, after school physical activity programs, or athletic teams gave children many ways to stay active throughout their day. Now, with the challenges posed during the pandemic, it takes more effort by both instructors and family members to keep children healthy and involved in physical fitness.

Fitivities

Families can fit in fitness with Fitivities. Ideal for bigger groups or families, Fitivities are designed to get the whole crew away from screens and moving their bodies. The Fitivities board is entirely portable, making it easy to transport play from inside to outdoors. During good weather, families can turn an outing to the park into a real chance for physical activity. Fitivities can even be used right in your own backyard to provide exercise for your children during shutdowns. During bad weather, easily move the game indoors for continued play. The game pieces are robust and durable, readily withstanding playtime in a wide variety of places.

It is crucial for parents to engage in movement and activities with their children. When a child sees their parents enjoying physical activity, they are more likely to develop similar habits. When children think that being active is a chore or inconvenience, they are likely to resist or feel reluctant to participate. Fitivities offer opportunities to demonstrate that movement can be good for you and fun. The game includes plenty of exciting activities to keep your kids engaged and active without even realizing that it is exercise. Fitivities gives parents a chance to act as wellness role models by being physically active and showing that getting fit can be fun.

Virtual Physical Activity Programming

Since most of the nation is currently operating virtually, it’s vital to find ways to turn screen time into movement time too. The amount of screen time children will be required to fulfill during remote learning means an increase in the sedentary lifestyles most parents pushed against before COVID. Many parents often monitor or minimize the amount of time a child spends behind the television or computer. However, the current circumstances make circumventing screentime exceptionally difficult.

Even though virtual screen time is increasing, that doesn’t mean children must continuously be sitting around. There are resources available to develop programs that encourage children to move, even if they are online. Virtual Physical Activity Programming is available to provide full-body movement and engaging activities through a screen. This unique 30-day virtual program was designed specifically for remote delivery, meaning children can build useful, healthy skills even as they learn from home.

The flexibility of the program ensures that a movement schedule can take root in your child’s routine. The 30 days of activities can be dispersed 30 days in a row or spread out over a longer time. Lessons are easily incorporated into instruction, so children who learn remotely will be in the habit of including physical activity into their day by the time they return to school again. Kids will expect to move as part of their learning, instilling a natural inclination to incorporate movement into their daily lives into the future.

From yoga to martial arts, Virtual Physical Activity Programming offers children the opportunity to discover new interests during sessions that they may have never found or been provided under other circumstances. Children will gain exposure to expert instruction in physical activity experiences in the home, sparking new interests, or providing a foundation for a future passion. Instead of turning into sedentary learners, Virtual Physical Activity Programming has the potential to inspire lifelong movement.

SHAPE America

Teachers today are tasked with transforming in-person instruction into something that can transfer quickly to online learning. For physical education instructors, this is a challenge to the very structure of their curriculum. The nature of physical education in classes or after school programs relates entirely to out-of-the-seat movement; instructors must now translate their same real-time ideas to virtual learning.

At SHAPE America, resources for physical education instructors exist in plenty to help them transition to virtual learning. This fantastic organization has a collection of ideas and methods to support physical education instructors transition to teaching through a screen. SHAPE America helps physical education program developers generate interactive virtual physical activity lessons without losing rigor or purpose.

The site offers instructors helpful tips and well thought out tasks to develop materials for children to use at home as instruction shifts to online platforms. SHAPE America updates their content regularly, and instructors will find new ideas to fill their bag of tricks quickly. Rather than reinvent the wheel or spend valuable planning time figuring out ways to use an online platform, SHAPE America streamlines the lesson planning so that instructors can maximize their efforts instead of struggling against the process.

Not a New Normal

By trade, educators are resourceful. They are some of the most flexible and adaptable professionals. Even in a pandemic, there are resources available to support teachers so that children can learn and be healthy, even at home.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

How Budget Cuts Have Created a Health Epidemic in Students

It’s no big secret that physical fitness is essential to living a long and healthy life, yet Physical Education is only mandatory in 8 of the 50 states. In the recent decade, the obesity epidemic in America has been at the forefront of health crises. It leads many to wonder, why are budget cuts toward Physical Education in schools so frequent?

The sad reality is that many K-12 school districts throughout the U.S. rely on high test scores to secure funding. Budgets are focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, while “non-essential” programs like art, music, and physical education are overlooked.

Underfunding, or in some cases total defunding of these programs, is incredibly detrimental to developing children’s health and well-being. Budget reductions to physical education and after school programs have contributed significantly to creating a health epidemic in students across the country.

Daily exercise is crucial to the positive development of children’s bodies and minds. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children ages 5-17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.

Sometimes, Physical Education class is the only way for children with busy parents to receive structured time for physical activity. Participation in after school sports or travel sports programs is a privilege not afforded to many. When kids lose out on the opportunity for exercise because of budget issues, they are affected in a variety of ways, both physically and mentally.

The problems that come with a lack of adequate exercise lead to irreversible mental and physical health issues, like cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, depression, and other severe ailments that contribute to the ongoing health epidemic faced by young Americans every day.

How Budget Cuts Created a Health Epidemic in Students

Budget cuts are a stepping stone to a major health epidemic in American students. When government agencies slash physical education budgets, they think they’re saving themselves money. While this may be true in the short term, over time, it will wind up being much more costly than expected.

Childhood obesity is steadily on the rise annually, while heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women of all ethnicities. Every 37 seconds, someone in the United States dies of cardiovascular disease. Without access to physical activity in schools, that person could be any of these underserved children in the future.

Kids need daily exercise, or else they are at a higher risk of serious diseases. Additionally, a lack of physical activity can impact mental health and performance in school.

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is steadily on the rise annually. According to the CDC, the number of obese young people in the United States has more than tripled since the 1980s. The CDC’s data from 2015-2016 found that 1 in 5 children aged 6 to 19 is obese. So what exactly are budget cuts saving government agencies? In essence, nothing.

Each year in the United States, $147 billion is spent on obesity-related healthcare costs. So while the impacts of physical education budget cuts might not be immediately apparent, it can lead to incredibly costly expenditures for public and private medical facilities in the long run. Childhood obesity has been attributed to several other long-term complications like:

  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Impaired glucose tolerances or insulin resistance
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Joint and musculoskeletal problems
  • Liver disease
  • Acid reflux
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Depression and other mental health issues
  • Type 2 diabetes

By cutting off funding for programs that promote a healthy lifestyle, children are exponentially more likely to be at risk for childhood obesity and obesity-related illnesses.

Type 2 Diabetes

Because of the obesity epidemic, rates of Type 2 diabetes are rising at an alarmingly fast in children. Diabetes can lead to a plethora of severe health issues and, ultimately, death. Some of the complications and ailments brought on by Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Cataracts
  • Kidney failure
  • Nerve damage leading to amputation
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Clogged veins and arteries
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

While diabetes is a manageable disease, there is still no guarantee of the risks and outcomes presented later.

Mental Health

The second leading cause of death in young people ages 10 to 24 is suicide. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are an increasingly concerning part of the health epidemic faced by America’s children today.

Boston Children’s Hospital estimates that nearly one of every eight children between the ages of 6 and 12 has suicidal thoughts. The fact that exercise can minimize the risks of depression and suicide in children and young adults is widely accepted. During physical exertion, our brains let out endorphins, which release the energy to keep us feeling good. Without regular exercise, children’s bodies and minds can suffer severely.

Depression also arises prominently in obese or overweight children, especially if they are teased or bullied. This can result in slipping grades and anger issues, furthering the cycle of depression.

What Kids Are Really Losing Out On

When kids don’t receive the recommended amount of daily exercise, their overall physical health and well-being are negatively impacted. Regular exercise promotes healthy lifestyle habits that continue into adulthood.

School health programs teach kids the value of nutrition and taking care of your body. Physical Education promotes increased endurance and flexibility, fine-tuned motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and strengthens muscles and bones. It also improves communication, teamwork, and critical thinking skills that are reflected in the classroom.

Lack of physical fitness leads to the ailments contributing to the ongoing health epidemic in our country. Childhood obesity leads to further health problems down the road and puts children at a higher risk of depression and suicide.

By cutting off funding to Physical Education programs in the United States, federal and state government agencies are directly contributing to the ongoing health epidemic in the country. Pennies can be pinched now, but lives can’t be saved later. Physical health should be prioritized in school systems before this epidemic becomes irreversible.

About The Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition.

The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide. For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Learning

We may not be able to gather in groups right now, but we can make the best of a difficult situation by planning for the day when we can resume our regular activities. While we have this time outside of the usual routine, we can use it to learn new ideas that will come in handy later. As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We can use this time to our advantage, so we return even stronger and better prepared.

Making Lemonade

This is an excellent time to practice what you teach. It’s easy to fall into a lull and become inactive without our routines to keep us going, so you may want to take time and reflect on this process to help relate to children who feel similarly. Children who have been without regular exercise for some time may resist movement that pushes them out of their “lull,” their comfort zone. How do you inspire someone to move more when they are resistant or in the habit of staying comfortable? How do you motivate yourself to get up and keep going?

When we’re in the middle of our daily routine, it’s hard to stop and think about these questions. With the slower pace we find ourselves in today, it can be helpful to be reflective and consider new ways to do things. What has worked in the past? What are you looking forward to trying out?

It is vital to keep going, to keep moving. The more we move, the more energy we create, which allows us to be productive. When we move our bodies, the extra blood flow to our brains and the work our muscles do gives us a boost, and we can get more done. Overall, we feel better and more motivated. Our students do, too.

Activity Improves Learning

This motivational boost from exercise and fitness makes movement a crucial part of the learning process. With regular movement, children are energized to face the day. Exercise affects a child’s body by influencing sharper thinking and higher frustration tolerances for challenging work. Their bodies are better equipped to manage the stress of learning.

In addition to the effects on their body, exercise makes it easier for children to concentrate. Higher levels of brain chemicals released during exercise improve the brain’s ability to retain information. Memory is improved, and new information is absorbed faster.

As retention is a significant performance indicator for academic success, the ability for exercise to help students absorb and apply knowledge better makes it a vital component to students’ academic progress. If kids’ brains experience activity and perform better in school, then we must create more movement opportunities to help them develop.

The Value Of Physical Activity

For those children without options to move or ways to be active, we need to create opportunities or provide access. The more we expose kids to physical activity, the more they will stay engaged, ideally seeking exercise activities on their own. As they engage in movement activities, kids will begin to understand their bodies and movements, further developing their awareness of their bodies.

Through kinesthetics, the study of body motion, and one’s own ability to move, children can begin to develop this awareness. Classes like Physical Education or after school programs engaging in physical activities are good ways to build children’s perception of their bodies and how they move.

The goal of developing awareness is to give children an appreciation for their ability to move as well as the importance of exercising. When children learn about the way their bodies react to movement, they will be more likely to engage in physical activity on their own.

For children who don’t readily exercise or have not been exposed to the fundamentals of movement and exercise, they don’t develop the concept of movement in quite the same way. For all children, it is more important than ever to include kinesthetics into their curricula so that they can learn the value of movement and how they can be active.

Building Kinesthetics Programs

Creating programs that reach kids and help them develop their physical ability requires engagement and variety so that all children can participate and gain these essential skills. Program plans can build confidence and foster a love for exercise by focusing on skill development and fun activities.

As you plan, remember that the objective is to introduce movement, build body awareness, and scaffold to more advanced skills over time. Break down broad concepts into smaller parts that can become games. Repetition builds muscle memory, so look for ways to repeat the skills but with new techniques; think, “same rules, different game.”

As children interact more with movement, they can begin to experience the positive effects of exercise. They learn better. This is the higher purpose of kinesthetics. While life is interrupted in this way, it can be challenging to focus on the future when the present is so uncertain. However, there is hope to be found in plans for the future, so use this time to look ahead. What can you build when everyone comes back together?

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

 Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide. For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

How Exercise Affects Mental Health

Our bodies really are a machine; an amazing and organized system that works hard to keep us going. Every function of our circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and other systems work in conjunction, relying on each other to create the incredible result that is the body.

Lifting that spoon of cereal to your mouth takes a host of functions that interact and coordinate to make it possible to eat. Remove one, and suddenly, cereal falls off the spoon or never even leaves the bowl. Everything must work together and function well.

So, we care for our bodies, and we exercise to keep the systems healthy. And, the sooner we start, the better the body develops into a healthier machine. That means starting fitness young is key.

Machine Care Instructions

If our bodies are a machine, then the heart is the engine and the brain is the power switch. Both are vital, but brain functions pre-empt the heart. While we need to stay active so our heart can run the systems relying on it, the brain is the on/off switch that keeps it going.

The brain not only guides our actions and behaviors but directs our body to perform every function, including the heart. It’s the onboard computer system that makes everything work together. For children, brain function is vital to development, and anything that affects a developing brain must receive due attention.

So, while much of fitness focuses on the physical body and heart health, this focus should not eclipse the importance the role fitness has on children’s mental health. There are major ways that exercise improves children’s abilities to think and feel, which is why this is such a vital and significant effect.

  1. Endorphins. There are powerful brain chemicals at work that stimulate nerves and flood our brain cells to get us going. These chemicals, endorphins, are responsible for moods and a general sense of being. They are powerful because the right amounts can escalate our energy so that we feel amped up and excited about life, or the opposite – drained of energy and feeling blue, dejected, or depressed. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins that keep us feeling good and give the positive energy responsible for our motivation and productivity.
  2. Hormones. Another powerful mix of chemicals in our body, hormones are mighty influencers on our physical and emotional wellbeing. From initiating to maintaining growth and maturity of the body, hormones are fascinating forces that benefit from exercise. Fitness keeps hormone levels in balance and prevents factors such as weight gain and restricted blood flow that can affect the release of hormone amounts.
  3. Oxygen. We take our ability to breathe for granted because it’s regulated by our autonomic nervous system so that we don’t have to think to do it—it just gets done, all the time, automatically. However, this is a key and vital function because it provides and distributes oxygen to our bodies. Exercise affects this delivery system by bringing in more oxygen, thereby sending out more. In this way, our brain receives big oxygen boosts during activity and functions at an even higher capacity. The more oxygen received, the better the brain works.

It’s a Balancing Act

With all the brain chemistry and systems operating in balance, kids’ brainpower performs at optimal levels. They are their best and brightest versions of themselves with proper amounts of every chemical swirling around as it should, in addition to the right quantities of vitamins and nutrients working hard as well.

Regular exercise affects these balances and levels, creating ideal amounts with which to regulate the body. True health means the body, as well as the mind, is functioning well.

Conversely, a lack of exercise can adversely affect children’s well-being. From bad moods to serious medical conditions like mood disorders, depression, or diabetes, the absence of exercise can exacerbate childhood illnesses or states of mind. Feeling negative can be a result of low hormone levels, a sluggish endocrine system, or the inability to process a high caloric intake of sugar or fat.

And, it can become a vicious cycle; feeling bad may lead to worse eating habits, weight gain, or activity avoidance, further worsening the problems. In this way, a lack of exercise and fitness puts children at risk for mental health problems that could become potentially life-threating.

While exercise is not a magic bullet that makes problems go away, it certainly contributes to better health and overall well-being in children. When children feel a physical sense of strength and fitness at a young age, they are more likely to maintain a strong mental capacity that is cognitively and emotionally balanced, making it possible for them to be their best selves, in mind and body.

20 Hard Facts About Childhood Fitness

As children engage in activities that get them moving, there are significant side effects that participating has on their lives. From better health overall to long-term benefits into adulthood, childhood fitness has some great byproducts beyond just fun.

Fun should be a main driving factor in getting children to participate in physical activity. Having fun with fitness continues to drive motivation for children. However, the following are 20 hard facts about the benefits of incorporating fitness into the lives of youths:

  1. Development. It is better for bones and muscles throughout the body to get active early. The musculoskeletal system benefits from regular and varied activity.
  2. Attitude. When children feel good about themselves, this improves their outlook on life, opening them up to discover and maximize their potential. 
  3. Growth. Children who get active early are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.
  4. Emotional Development. Participating in group exercise gives children the chance to learn healthy coping skills to manage stress.
  5. Maturity. Children who participate in activities are more likely to have a sense of self as part of something bigger, rather than a more self-centric view.
  6. Leadership. Getting active gives children experience leading group activities or making choices that affect others.
  7. Confidence. When children learn new skills, they gain more self-respect and feel more confident.
  8. Health. Active children tend to retain their healthy habits and emerge into adulthood in better overall condition.
  9. Diet. The ability for children to connect healthy eating with activity early in life will sustain them as they understand the importance of making good food choices throughout their lives.
  10. Cognition. Childhood fitness improves kids’ ability to think and learn.
  11. Movement. Fitness counteracts modern sedentary lifestyles and provides an opportunity to move as well as instill a desire to be active.
  12. Strength. Getting fit as a child contributes to feeling strong enough to manage the changes and stress of life as well as actual strength to withstand the physical demands of a full life.
  13. Heart. Activity in childhood leads to better heart health as an adult.
  14. Success. The more fitness children achieve, the more likely they are to seek out other achievements, engaging with life and striving for success.
  15. Participation. When children are active, they gain skills that can lead to membership of a team or club.
  16. Wellness. Children that engage in physical activity will be more likely to protect their bodies than harm themselves through unhealthy choices such as substance abuse.
  17. Motivation. The effort to reach fitness goals will extend to other aspects of life and make it more possible to accomplish goals overall.
  18. Knowledge. As children participate in fitness, they gain knowledge about the way the body works and the requirements for living a healthy lifestyle.
  19. Body Image. Through fitness, children develop a realistic and accurate understanding of a healthy body so that they are less susceptible to disorders or negative body image.
  20. Power. Children that engage in fitness are more capable and self-reliant, and as a result, feel empowered.

Any one of these would be reason alone to get kids active but imagine the collective advantages that come from all twenty working together. Children will be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally, for their childhood as well as adulthood. 

Imagine The Possibilities 

The healthier we grow as a society, the more we can develop culturally and individually. It’s a benefit to the world we live in when everyone has better health. 

The financial costs alone for managing poor health are astronomical, not to mention the tragic loss of lives from preventable diseases or emotional suffering on relationships from the strain of caregiving. All these detract from our quality of life. 

As society finds more reasons to be sedentary, from our workplace functions that require sitting at a computer to our advances in technology that make it less necessary to budge from the couch (order dinner, groceries, and clothes, all online!), it’s even more important to get moving early and often. Small movements grow larger over time as fitness transforms body strength and allows more opportunities to handle greater exercise.

While a simple game of catch seems like a small gesture, maybe meant to occupy a child’s attention, the movement does more good than just keeping them busy and having fun for a bit; it has a greater impact on the wellbeing of that child and their place in the world. The simple movements like that game of catch with a ball transform into bigger opportunities to move, like group sports or activities centered on ball play.

The facts of the matter are clear:  fitness improves the quality of life, and it’s hard for anyone to argue against that. The sooner we accept our ability to improve life through movement and activity, the better we will feel in life.

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