Often while debating the importance of smaller school, neighborhood schools, extra-curricular sporting activities and the importance of physical education, I have advocated that policy makers need to consider the proven impacts of exercise on academic performance (not to mention physical health)
Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive
flexibility; new research shows just how critical it is to academic
performance. However exercise programs for kids are underfunded and under prioritized. The benefits of physical education to our children's health and academic performance are well known, yet it seems policy makers seems view the area as one of the "extras" that can be cut.
Over the past year, a lot of parents, school councils and gym teachers have expressed their concerns that students are getting short changed when it comes to physical education. In letter to the editor this past summer which was published in the The Evening Telegram, Memorial University Student Kelsey Barnett, put forward a passionate and informed opinion on the matter that is very much worth reading.
The medical journal Pediatrics has published
research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity
program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain
function. An article on the study published in The Atlantic is a must read for parents, particularly those of us that have children that are struggling with the ADHD epidemic.
Stressed teachers, budget cuts, crowded spaces, early wake-ups, long bus rides, the inability to participate in school sports programs after school are impacting more than the academic well being of our children.
I agree with The Atlantic article, if the issue for policy makers and the fiscal gatekeepers is the return on investment, it is hard to point to a more significant high-yield investment for all kids.
Of course, if parents do not press the case for more physical education opportunities and community/neighborhood schools to our politicians, the situation will only worsen and our children will be further shortchanged.
Of course there is always the other option, pills and more pills. Talk to your principle, did you know that in many schools, particularly at primary and elementary level, are becoming like dispensaries?
You have a voice, use it!