This week’s Scavenger Hunt of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum document has really brought to my attention the necessity of integrating physical education into other subject areas, such as math and language. There are two key parts of this that I want to discuss, the first of which is the fact that health and physical education are considered less important than other subject areas, and are therefore allotted less time per week than math, language, or the sciences. I can’t help but question this decision, because while math and language are important (don’t get me wrong), I would argue that so is physical education, especially now with the recent increase in rates of child obesity in western cultures. Physical education is also important because the practical applications of healthy living and its multitude of dimensions are integral pieces of being well.
The second key reason for integrating physical education into other curricular areas is that the learning process should be dynamic, engaging, and involve movement. It has been demonstrated through research that the method of simply memorizing information and regurgitating it onto a test are ineffective for long-term learning; and the goal of the education system is not to produce an army of robots. We want to guide children to be curious critical thinkers who are engaged with the world around them, not mindlessly passing through it. What better way to encourage and facilitate learning than with manipulatives and movement?
The problems, concisely defined, are these: there is not enough time in the schedule for physical education and there is not enough physical activity incorporated into other curricula. The solution, in my opinion, is simple: combine them. School is designed for the benefit of students, and we as educators are responsible for equipping them with the best possible toolkit for life that we can give.
“This learning expectation requires students to actively engage in sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity, including appropriate warm-up and cool-down activities, to the best of their ability for a minimum of twenty minutes every day” (Health and Physical Education Curriculum Document, Page 53).
How do we achieve this? By carving out the time specifically for DPA – making it a priority. And by getting our students up and moving during daily classroom activities. Math group work and literature circles can be done standing around tables or while walking. Even activities like fitness circuits and relay games can be combined with question and answer games that would otherwise be seated activities.
Have any great ways to integrate Physical Education into other parts of the curriculum? Share them in the comments!