Physical education provides students with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to enjoy being active and healthy throughout their lives. An active lifestyle positively contributes to not only physical health, but also to mental, emotional and social health.

A healthy, active lifestyle can help improve mental health by improving cognitive functioning, increasing self-esteem or decreasing depression just to name a few. An understanding of personal responsibility for lifelong health and an understanding of how living healthy, active lives is connected with the world around them and with the health of others is an important outcome of exposure to a quality physical education curriculum.

Effective Practices

  • A quality physical education program utilizes a written curriculum that is aligned to state or national standards.

  • The physical education program addresses student learning objectives and outcomes in all lessons through the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains. A quality physical education will incorporate a balance of formative and summative assessment for students that include all three domains.

  • The delivery of physical education instruction through a certified teacher shall strive to ensure a physically and emotionally safe learning environment at all times. Examples may include strategies like small group instruction, limiting competition in class settings and frequent role modeling of sportsmanship and associated behaviors.

  • Physical education and physical activity policies for all schools should prohibit withholding physical activity as a form of punishment and/or behavior management. 

Resources

Story

Meditation and Yoga in Physical Education Class

Over the past year and a half, I have implemented meditation/Yoga into physical education classes at Burlington City High School.  Burlington City High School is an urban school district in South Central New Jersey that holds about 800 students and includes grades 7-12.

After returning from a Health/Physical Education Conference, I decided to start this program with a small group of students in my advanced physical education class.  I honestly did not know how it would unfold/if the students would enjoy it.  After the first week, there was buzz around the school that my small class of 10 students were meditating and doing yoga.  As mentioned, this class was more advanced-both physically and mentally; they were some of the top students in our school-what I didn’t expect was students who were typical problem students to start coming to me and ask if we could start doing this in their classes. 

A few weeks later, leading up to state testing, we had a day for students to Wellness Day where they could opt for different activity stress reduction sessions offered around the high school by teachers.  I decided this would be a great opportunity for me to reach students that were not in my classes and see how they enjoyed meditation/yoga.  I had a great turn out and even more positive feedback from not only students, but administration as well.  From that day forward, it became a part of my class routines.  In my health classes, I implemented Meditation Mondays where we do a quick 5 minute meditation to start the classes.  I began to notice that the students were more on task and more focused after those days.  This school year, I decided that each of my physical education classes would meditate once every four days depending on their schedule.  I have even opened up these specific days to other physical education classes during that time frame to join-just yesterday I had over 40 kids choose to join our session. 

As a physical education & health education teacher, I honestly was a bit nervous to implement this into my classes-I was afraid that kids wouldn’t respond.  I am so happy I trusted my gut.  My students deal with academic stress, financial hardships, family problems and more things than I could ever imagine going through at that age-they understand my class is a safe space and this is their time to really shut down-if only for 40 minutes or so a day.  The best part is that they always tell me they feel so much better after they leave my class.

For more information: Samantha Rodolico, Burlington City High School, Burlington City, NJ, srodolico@burlington-nj.net