Physical education doesn’t look much like it did when most parents went to school. Gone are the days of being beaned with a ball in dodgeball and the competitive team sports that often involved students feeling left out. Today, the physical education curriculum in our schools focuses on fitness, fun, and inclusion in ways that inspire students to be physically active and to teach skills that we hope will lead students to adopt a physically active, healthy lifestyle.
An opportunity to strengthen the physical education program in our elementary schools was presented when the number of “prep” time periods for teachers in grades 1-3 recently increased to four 50-minute periods a week, equalling the amount provided for teachers in 4th and 5th grades. As a result, we now have dedicated, credentialed PE teachers in every elementary school teaching students in grades 1-3, usually twice weekly for at least 50 minutes. (The schedule and teaching arrangements vary slightly from school to school. In most cases, PE continues to be taught by the regular classroom teacher in kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grades.)
New elementary teachers were hired this year from a highly qualified pool of internal and external candidates. Under their tutelage, students engage in such activities as playing High-Five Tag, climbing and hanging on play structures, practicing catching and throwing, and learning about muscle strength and role of the heart.
Thrilled with the opportunity to offer a more comprehensive PE program to our young students, Director of Schools Maggie Riddle said, “We have an incredible group of professionals making up our PE team. This is a very exciting time for us to be building such a strong physical education program. The evidence is stronger than ever that physical health is deeply connected to wellness and academic success. This work is a critical part of our mission.”
To support the implementation of the program and the new team of teachers, Director Riddle holds meetings twice monthly to work on curriculum planning and articulating a district-wide approach to teaching the California State Standards for Physical Education. Teaching of grade-level standards is designed to prepare students to reach the physical fitness goals tested in fifth, seventh, and ninth grades.
Here are the general standards used to lead the teaching of physical education in elementary schools across California:
Standard 1: Students demonstrate the motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
Standard 2: Students demonstrate knowledge of movement concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.
Standard 3: Students assess and maintain a level of physical fitness to improve health and performance.
Standard 4: Students demonstrate knowledge of physical fitness concepts, principles, and strategies to improve health and performance.
Standard 5: Students demonstrate and utilize knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity.
More detail can be found on the California Department of Education website: https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/pestandards.pdf