Dear Elementary Task Force Member, 

As you develop your final recommendations we would like you to consider the following information. We have revisited the original charge of the Elementary Task Force and considered the question dealing with what a fifth grade student should know and be able to do.

The charge of the Elementary Task Force will be "To examine the philosophy, programs, methodologies, services, organization and structure which provide instruction for children in the elementary learning years and make appropriate recommendations.

Draft charge for Elementary Task Force, May 16, 1997.

What should a student promoted from our fifth grade know and be able to do?

Agenda Question: Elementary Task Force Planning Meeting, August 12, 1997. 

Physical Education has a school board approved curriculum which was approved in 1986. The curriculum is based on 150 minutes of physical education per week currently being met by offering physical education 30 minutes per day. 

Concerning the reduction of physical education and maintaining recess:

  • Does it make sense to reduce instructional programs like physical education for recess?
  • "Physical Education is an integral part of the learning process, focused on personalized growth and success, striving to enhance through instructional giving, productive, efficient, harmonious living." - Ambrose Brazelton
  • "The benefits of physical activity are not natural by-products of random participation, such as recess." (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1995)

Research, on the effects of the frequency of physical education instruction on the physical fitness scores of 4th and 5th grade students, shows a decrease in physical fitness scores when physical education is less than 5 days a week (Hicks, 1995). Structured physical education programs 5 to 4 days a week are shown to be statistically superior to other programs.

  • 5 days a week physical education program mastery all 4 fitness tests 46%, standard deviation +13
  • 4 days a week mastery level was 42%, standard deviation +8
  • 3 days a week mastery level was 33%, standard deviation +6
  • 2 days a week mastery level was 26%, standard deviation +6
  • 1 day a week mastery level was 16%, standard deviation +7 

Brain research in the area of learning has showed time and time again that quality daily physical education is vitally important for student's learning. Most countries that the United States is trying to keep up with academically have daily physical education (Hicks, 1995).

Research:

  • Katherine Short, Multiple Intelligences, shows that many students are "kinesthetic learners." Research supports the idea that students learn one of three ways: Kinesthetically, Auditorily, and Visually

Removing kinesthetic learning is like putting a blindfold on a visual learner or ear plugs in the ears of an auditory learner.

  • According to Shepard, in the May 1997 edition of Pediatric Exercise Science, "when a substantially proportion of curricular time (14-26%) is allocated to physical activity, learning seems to proceed more rapidly so that academic performance matches, and may even exceed, that of control students."
  • "In a study of more than 500 Canadian children, students who spend an extra hour each day in physical education class performed notably better on exams than less active children." (Hannaford, Carla. Smart Moves, 1995, p. 101)
  • "Piaget states that the stage of 'concrete operations' is usually reached between the ages of 7 and 11. He recommends that the teacher provide a very active curriculum particularly early in this stage. Children at these ages need to work with and handle many concrete objects before they can readily understand abstract verbalization. Piaget also maintains that the key to learning is not to verbalize too much during a stage of 'concrete operations.' The child requires a great deal of physical activity. What better way to teach the academic subjects than through movement? What better concrete object to manipulate than the child's own body?" (Gilbert, Anne Green. Teaching the Three R's Through Movement Experiences, 1977, p. 7)
  • According to First Lessons: A Report on Elementary Education in America, researchers in France, Australia, Israel and the United States have all found that youngsters who partake in structured programs of vigorous exercise possess greater mental acuity and stronger interest in learning than those who do not. First Lessons emphasized that physical education programs belong in the elementary schools, "not only because they promote health and well-being, but because they contribute tangibly to academic achievement." (First Lessons: A Report on Elementary Education in America, by U.S. Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett, Department of Education, Washington DC, 1986)

Final Thoughts: Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford 1995

  • "Physical activities integrate many different kinds of knowledge with skilled muscular coordination--knowledge about space and time and human dynamics like teamwork, motivation and goal seeking. Educators should not lose sight of their values. Physical education and arts are not frills. They constitute powerful ways of thinking and skilled ways of communicating with the world. They deserve a greater not lesser portion of school time and budgets." (pg. 88)
  • "The strongly held misconception in our society is that mind and body are separate--that movement has nothing to do with intellect. People simply find it hard to believe that physical activities can help you think. And yet many of America's foremost brain researchers gathered in Chicago the first of May 1995, to examine the link between movement and learning. Exercise, besides shaping up bones, muscles, heart and lungs, also strengthens the brain." (pg. 112) 
  • "Movement, a natural process of life, is now understood to be essential to learning, creative thought and high level formal reasoning. It is time to consciously bring integrative movement back into every aspect of our lives and realize, as I have, that something this simple and natural can be the source of miracles." (pg. 214)

The members of PEAK (Physical Education for All Kids) encourage you to study the above research and information. We hope this helps you to understand the importance of daily instruction in physical education with a certified physical education specialist for all elementary students. A quality physical education program requires manageable class size (i.e., one homeroom per teacher). Our students deserve a quality education; we trust you will take into consideration our recommendations regarding the continuation of daily physical education and will help to sustain a manageable teacher/student ratio.

Sincerely,

Physical Education for All Kids (PEAK)

"Give about two hours everyday to exercises, for health must not be sacrificed to learning.
A strong body makes the mind strong."
- Thomas Jefferson