Adults working in sport and education often discuss the importance of health and physical education classes, as well as the importance of physical activity and sport participation for young people.
It’s easy to find articles on this subject on the Internet. However, I find that these articles miss an extremely important voice: that of the children themselves.
So I decided to ask my 6th graders:
Why do you like your health and physical education class?
Here’s what they answered:
About the author
David Benay has been teaching at Jeanne-Sauvé Public Elementary School in Orléans, Ont., since 2012. As of 2022, he is a homeroom teacher in Grade 6. At this level, he finds students can really participate in meaningful conversations during class and recess.
I like the health and physical education classes because they help me learn more about the importance of physical activity and they teach me its value.
I like physical activity because sport helps me to be healthy. Finally, sport helps everyone to socialize better through teamwork during games.
I find these classes really interesting. One of the advantages of physical education class is that I move. I don’t just sit in the same place without moving my body. I also really like the health class because it teaches me what is healthy and what is unhealthy. I find that these two topics are really useful for my life.
I love physical activity! I feel good and I smile when we play games we love in the gym. I like the health class because it helps me say no to my friends if they pressure me, and it also helps me understand the effects of drugs. Both subjects are really useful for me and interest me.
I like health and physical education classes because they teach me a lot of things that I can use in the future.
I find it helpful to learn how to move. It’s fun for all ages. Moving is essential because if you are not active, your brain will not work correctly and you could become depressed. I think the health course is essential because it is important to learn how to be healthy so that you can live to your full potential.
I like physical education because it gives me a sense of collaboration, and the majority of the class seems to like it too. I find it very pleasant in the gym and outside. I also like the health course because I find it important to be informed about drugs, how to avoid them, and how to say no.
I love learning about the human body and how to keep it healthy. I also like physical education class because it allows me to stay in shape and spend time with my friends.
After reading their answers, it’s obvious that many students appreciate studying health and physical education. Moreover, it’s also evident that they recognize the importance of this course. Quality courses will help them acquire the skills necessary to improve their physical, mental, and social-emotional health.
Student involvement can lay the foundation for more rewarding physical education classes
When we consult and include students, they become more empowered and involved. And participation is the ultimate goal.
For example, educators can have conversations with students to include their ideas in programming. This year, while conversing with my students, I learned that they had different interests. We therefore participated in a variety of physical activities such as Capture the Flag, ultimate Frisbee, soccer-baseball, athletics, volleyball, etc.
Teachers can also create an intramural schedule based on these conversations with students. An inclusive intramural program helps create a caring and healthy environment for students to share their ideas openly without feeling pressured. It also gives them the opportunity to move during the school day!
Including their voice is definitely a winning practice
• During some periods of physical education class, students can be permitted to play freely in the gymnasium and choose their own activities.
• Students can sometimes vote for the game they will play. When more than one game is popular, we split the gymnasium in half to offer the different options, or we play more than one game as a group for that period.
It is very important to listen to students so their physical education and health class reflects their interests and maximizes their enjoyment of moving and learning.