In US schools, physical education (or PE) is often a required class. Many students dislike the class, feeling it is a waste of time. Explore what is currently happening in these classes as well as what might be an improvement to them.
NOTE: This badge program resulted after a long discussion between high school students and adults on how to make the program more useful.
1. Current offerings – school year.
During the public school year, classes are often less than an hour. They include everything from dodge ball to swimming. Talk to students and adults from your area to find out what they do in PE, what they enjoyed (or didn’t) and what they learned that they used after completing the class.
2. Current offerings – summer school.
Taking PE during public summer school makes for longer classes. Where we live, many local active businesses and organizations were utilized. These included:
- Bowling at local alley
- Miniature and regular golf at local greens
- Day at a local water park
- Watching a professional baseball game
Of course, they also did activities that they would have done as part of the school year class. By integrating the class requirements with local offerings, this exposed the students to activities they could continue after completing the class. It also exposed the students to local businesses. Find out if your school offers a summer PE course. If so, compare the activities of your summer and school year programs.
3. Current offerings – Montessori.
My family spent six years at a Montessori charter school. There wasn’t a gym at this small school. Instead, a unique program was developed using the area they had on-site, partnering with other schools as well as requiring two extra-curricular sports each year. They learned dancing, yoga and other physical activities for smaller spaces. Like summer school, they also did things like golf at the local course and bowling. Look at how smaller schools are meeting PE requirements.
4. Current offerings – online.
Some schools have started offering classes like PE as an individual self-study course where students report what they have done for credit, not taking up “school time.” Explore one of these to see what is involved.
5. No PE.
Some schools do not require a physical education class or even recess. This is often due to cuts in funding. Studies have shown that not only are students who have PE more likely to be more active, they do better in school. Does your state / city have physical education classes for your students?
6. Start a dialogue.
Discuss the current state of physical education with students and / or adults. How can you find ways to help increase physical activities for kids?
Looking to the future
7. Change of perspective.
Many PE classes are formed from continuing activities students did at younger ages like playing dodge ball. Often, these activities are expanded on and the rules for sports and games are taught. What if our students instead were given physical activities that they could use later in life to keep themselves healthy and injury-free? As you go through the following steps, keep notes on your own ideas for improving offerings.
8. Start moving.
Most Americans don’t get enough exercise. So why not teach the basics? Some activities might include:
Basically, exercises that can be continued at home to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle would fall into this category. If your school does not offer these, could you start a club doing these to help kids and adults become active?
9. Outdoor basics.
Walking, hiking, running and bicycling are just a few simple outdoor activities that anyone can do. Explore ways to use local trails and roadways to get outdoors and stay fit.
10. First aid.
While moving may be your goal, knowing how to recognize and treat an injury might be the difference on whether someone goes back to an activity or avoids the activity in the future. Find out what basic aid would be beneficial and what kind of training is available to you.
11. Local businesses.
What do you have available locally for games, sports and other activities? Also, find out what courses businesses offer that might be used as a PE activity. Here’s a list of locations to get you started.
- Bowling alley
- Shooting range
- Miniature golf
- Swimming pool / water park
- Gym / YMCA
- Professional sport teams / fields
- Skating rinks / parks
By using local businesses, you are increasing their exposure to the public as well as providing a means to encourage students to find the fun in physical fitness. Do any of these locations currently offer discounted rates during non-peak times? Can you use these to expose others to get them moving?
12. Local organizations.
Schools have playgrounds. Parks have hiking trails. Walking clubs have planned routes. Amateur sport leagues allow you to have fun with others interested in the same sports. Find out what local organizations offer physical fitness activities.
13. Local experts.
Local experts can bring in passion for a game or sport. A park ranger can share tales of a place while leading a tour. A Jazzercise or Zumba trainer can bring their materials to your group, sharing their own stories of why their chosen activity is great. Start a list of local experts who are willing to come to you.
14. Online organizations.
Online organizations allow people to share their interests and knowledge. For example, you can join a geocaching organization to find information on local caches which might otherwise not be available. Start finding online organizations that can start moving you to physical activities.
15. Online gurus.
Online gurus can offer you motivation and support. They can share information with you through podcasts, videos, blog posts and more. Find an online guru who can help you create enjoyable fitness experiences.
16. Share your own ideas.
Look through the notes you took while working through this badge program. Share them with your school or organization. Start or join a fitness club to share your ideas. Teach a group of younger people that physical education can be fun.
Sites to Explore