A recent 2023 article in Strategies magazine argues that physical education (PE) should not be viewed as just another “special” or extra class in schools. The authors make a compelling case that regular, quality PE is essential for students’ health, development, and academic success. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- PE helps develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors that lead to lifelong physical activity and fitness. It is part of a well-rounded education under ESSA.
- Daily PE aligns with recommendations from the CDC, SHAPE America, and other major health organizations. They advise 150+ minutes per week for elementary students and 225+ for middle/high school.
- Physical activity boosts concentration, memory, classroom behavior, and even test scores. Studies show fitness correlates with academic achievement.
- For students with disabilities who qualify for adapted PE, it is a required service under IDEA. IEPs must reflect specialized PE instruction.
- While often treated as expendable, PE gets unique mandates under state and federal policies. It can’t be readily replaced like art or music.
- Strategies to elevate PE as an “essential” include: requiring it K-12, adding PE staff, including PE teachers on IEP teams, avoiding schedule conflicts.
- Bottom line: PE provides instruction, not just activity, and should be treated as indispensable to helping students thrive. It’s time to recognize quality PE as imperative, not just “special.”
The takeaway for adapted PE teachers is to advocate for protected PE time based on students’ needs and abilities. Don’t allow it to be sidelined as “just” a special class. Make sure IEPs reflect specialized services, and collect data to show progress. PE is essential for all students!
Doug Smith, Bob Beaudet, & Gayle Maddox (2023) Physical Education is not
“Special”!, Strategies, 36:4, 35-37, DOI: 10.1080/08924562.2023.2222054