Why is it important to increase the hours of Physical Education in schools? | News | Moms & Dads
Exercising is good at any age. But picking up the habit from a young age is essential. The family doctor and pediatrician Teresa Escudero Ozores considers it essential that children internalize the practice of daily exercise, and points out that the figures for a sedentary lifestyle among the young population in Spain are the highest in Europe. “A sedentary lifestyle is very dangerous because it causes cardiovascular diseases, the most prevalent at the present time. Children need to move more than adults, a minimum of one hour of intense exercise a day (something that is also recommended by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics), because becoming overweight or suffering from childhood obesity is a serious health problem ”, he assures she.
As Escudero explains, in some Nordic countries or in the United Kingdom children have more hours of recreation and contact with nature than in Spain: “Movement and going out to breathe fresh air in parks or forests improves ADHD, since it improves concentration, for example.
If we talk about Physical Education in schools, broadly speaking, this is considered a subject with little recognition (commonly called Mary) and historically relegated, a subject that, moreover, is easy to pass. David Hortigüela Alcalá, professor at the University of Burgos and director of the Department of Specific Didactics and the Area of Didactics of Body Expression, explains that he still hears how many call it Gymnastics, although he stresses that there has been a reconstruction process since the LOGSE (General Organic Law of the Educational System) of 1990. This professional points out that it is a subject that compared to others can provide more motivation, commitment, responsibility and happiness to the student, although this is influenced —and a lot— by the methodological approach that knows how to give the teacher. The teacher emphasizes that many children and adolescents only practice the physical activity they do at school.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends the practice of exercise in children because it favors physical and mental health, preventing a large number of diseases. As indicated in the curriculum, in Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) 105 hours of Physical Education are taught per year for the first three years, and 35 hours for the fourth year. In Spain, in the case of Madrid, a third weekly hour has been achieved in all ESO courses. In other autonomous communities, two hours are offered in this educational stage. And in the last year of Baccalaureate, none are taught anymore.
“There are so few hours of Physical Education that from the Official College of Physical Education and Sports Graduates (COLEF) we have already claimed on many occasions the need for the third weekly hour. We consider that it should be mandatory for the effective development of the child”, explains Hortigüela. According to this teacher, it has been shown that the more hours of school Physical Education, the higher the academic performance, self-concept, better social climate or ability to manage one’s own practice.
Ángel Pérez Pueyo is coordinator of the Physical Education Module of the University Master’s Degree in Teacher Training in Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, Vocational Training and Language Teaching and responsible for Fundamentals of Didactics of Physical Activity of the Degree in Physical Activity Sciences and Sport. This professional explains that children, as they grow, are immersed in many extracurricular activities, but the motor aspect is usually considered secondary: “From the COLEF Council we advocate that the increase in hours in Physical Education per week be of quality” .
The director of Grupo Attitudes also indicates that a process of change is necessary, and that this must take place without haste and investing time and money: “Knowing that we can do things better, even so, sometimes, it does not pay off, except when we understand that our own son would benefit.” Pérez Pueyo asserts that they have ensured that, in the curriculum, one of the objectives of the subject involves generating autonomy and positive experiences in the student and that this encourages him to continue with the practice by himself: “With positive experiences where the child don’t get bored, participate and have fun, the real satisfaction of learning will be achieved”. To conclude, this expert emphasizes that the teacher needs an adequate space in which to develop his class and implement the resources available to him. “It is better to have an adequate space than the material, because a teacher can have little, but know how to use it.”
David Feijoo Fernández, a Physical Education teacher at the Colexio San Pío X in Ourense, and Martín Barcala Furelos, a professor and researcher at the European University of the Atlantic, who also teaches classes in the Teaching Degree and Physical Activity Sciences. and Sports, clarify that in the educational curriculum of Primary Education, students have an average of 100 hours of Physical Education. “However, we are aware that the effective time of the tasks that involve motor activity does not usually exceed 50% of the total time of the session, so it is very little,” says Feijoo Fernández. “In a society where individualism and inactivity prevail, it can mean an improvement in the self-concept of the students, and reconnect with the physical activity practiced in a group. This can be an essential pillar for education in values and an approach towards a healthy life at all levels”, agrees the teacher.
“Physical Education is the only subject that uses active methodologies and games as methodological resources. It takes place in the sports center, in the playground or in a properly delimited natural environment. In the curriculum and in the student’s service, it is emphasized that motor skills constitute an essential and inseparable element of learning itself”, concludes Barcala Furelos as a claim to increase those hours.
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