Protect this special.

6:09 PM

This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices forHealthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

No, I’m not referring to “Tonight’s Special” on a dinner menu. Specials at my kid’s school are classes outside of the usual classroom instruction on math, English Language Arts, science, and social studies. Art, Music, Library and Physical Education (PE) are considered “specials” because they are… special. You get to leave the classroom and do something totally different and fun. And there is a different Special each day of the week. Each school day is defined by what Special our kids have on a given day. Music Mondays. PE Tuesdays. Art Wednesdays.

Sadly, Specials are usually the first to suffer amidst school budget cuts. They’re often seen as optional and do not align with common learning standards. Library Thursdays at our school is down to a 15-minute Special due to budget cuts.

Particularly alarming is how PE programs have been decreasing around the country. In fact, only 4% of elementary, 8% of middle, and 2% of high schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year. PE is an essential part of a well-rounded curriculum and we must do what we can to protect it. Here’s why:

Active kids learn better
Studies have shown that physical activity improves academic performance. Not only do active children perform better in school, they often behave better in the classroom. And better behavior and increased focus will often result in better test scores.

Nurture the whole child
Not only do PE programs benefit kids’ physical health, but it also has a lasting impact on kids’ mental and emotional health. Quality PE programs improve judgment, reduce stress, and increases self-esteem.

For our kids health
We all need regular physical activity to keep our bodies strong and healthy. And with the rise of childhood obesity, physical activity is a crucial component in resolving this growing epidemic. I’m all about cooking and eating healthy. But without regular exercise along with a healthy diet, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity will continue to plague our country.

Research shows that children need 60 minutes of physical activity per day. And because kids spend a majority of their day at school, schools play a critical role in helping them stay healthy. It’s no wonder 95% of parents with children under the age of 18 think PE should be part of the school curriculum for all students K-12.

So what can parents do to protect PE? First, find out if your kids are getting enough PE and what your schools’ PE program looks like. Then join the PE Action Team and stay up-to-date on campaigns in support of PE and learn about ways to get involved.

Want to learn more about what you can do to increase PE in your community? Check out Voices for Healthy Kids #ProtectPE campaign website for some great resources and tips on how to get started.

Lastly, ask your kids what’s their favorite Special. Chances are PE is up there. Let’s do what we can to keep it that way.

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