EDUCATION

Why

• Active kids succeed. They come to school more often, demonstrate greater focus in the classroom, achieve better academically, and are more positively engaged with their peers and school communities.[64]
• Brain scans show that kids have more neuro-electrical activity during the taking of tests after exercising.[65]
• Physical literacy can be a tool to revitalize physical education. While daily PE has become less common, 93.6 percent of school districts still require these classes in elementary schools.[66] If delivered with quality and more regularity, PE has the potential to be an equalizer for kids, serving all demographics.

Ideas

Preschools

• Incorporate PL concepts into everyday play and learning.
• Send home suggested play activities that encourage youth to engage with their parents/guardians through play.

Elementary Schools

• Promote PL as a key literacy for our youth to develop, alongside reading, math, and health, and commit to teaching it.
• Offer multiple daily recesses, and for kids who want more structure, optional physical activities during that time.
• Offer school-based, no-cut, co-ed intramural sports, with equal playing time.
• Offer alternative sports (e.g.: ultimate disc/Frisbee, even quidditch) or non-sport physical activities that tap into cultural interests.
• Address concerns about access by funding activities fully and offering late school buses to take home students.
• Teach PL through stretching and balancing activities in between classes.
• Incorporate physical activity into regular (non-PE) classes.
• Focus on development of fundamental motor skills, not just sport-specific skills, during physical education classes.
• Promote active transportation, such as walking, biking, skateboarding, or roller-skating to school.
• Communicate PL assessment results on students’ report cards.
• Enlist the assistance of student committees.
• Educate school nurses on physical literacy, and include PL assessments in annual in-school health screenings.

Before- and After-School Programs

• Give providers plug-and-play curricula that use PL best practices and train them in how to integrate the curricula.
• Use PL best practices in programming.
• Devote time to free play, while being mindful that all kids, not just the best athletes, need to be included in activities.
• Provide early and/or late school buses to take kids to school and/or home, respectively.

Secondary Schools

• In addition to many of the ideas noted above, connect students with local volunteer activities that help develop PL in elementary school kids.

Colleges and Universities

• Infuse PL principles into courses for future teachers.
• Create a certificate or major in physical literacy.
• Integrate PL into curriculum for students pursuing degrees in in public health, sport management, recreation, physical education, kinesiology, or human biology.

All

• Make physical education a core subject in school.
• At the state level, use the Society of Health and Physical Educators of America’s National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes as a guide to create PL standards for every grade level, then provide funding and accountability measures.
• For school districts, adapt school wellness and other policies to include PL principles.

Barriers/Competing Interests

Test-Prepping

• Educators under pressure to improve standardized test scores of students often see physical activity as counterproductive to their mandate.

Bureaucracy

• Layers of approval common within public schools and related factors, including: funding, geographic access to programs and resources, limited class time, and many educational standards may make it difficult for a school to invest resources.

Resources

• It is harder to reach students who face disparities in education and health by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and cultural norms.

LEADING THE WAY

The Society of Health and Physical Educators of America (SHAPE America) holds an official organizational position that physical education is often the first introduction to learning motor skills and should be recognized as the foundation of an inclusive participation continuum over a lifespan. The largest organization of professionals involved in health, physical education, and physical activity, SHAPE America has adopted physical literacy in its literature, writing that “embracing physical literacy as an outcome will not only align our goals with those of many other countries but will also help us to enhance physical education, physical activity, and sport programs throughout the country.”[68]  Physical education develops physical competence so that all children can move efficiently, effectively, and safely and understand what they are doing. SHAPE America’s physical education standards have helped physical literacy gain notoriety as an essential basis for children’s full development and achievement.