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The importance of physical education for young children

Our young learners love to get up and move throughout the day. Physical activity breaks up monotony within the classroom, gets children excited to participate, and allows them to get their energy out. Physical activity is an important part of education and should be built into a child’s day at your center. 

There are many physical, social, and emotional benefits to having children partake in consistent physical activity. A lack of physical activity in children could lead to physical health issues in the future, along with negative effects on their mental and social well-being. 

What are the benefits of physical education in young children?

1. Physical benefits

According to Kids Health, regular exercise encourages strong bones, a healthy body weight, and even enables better sleep. Partaking in consistent physical education can even encourage children to eat better as their bodies will naturally need more energy to stay active. Aerobic activity will also help with blood vessels and heart health.  Children are developing in every way, and physical development is incredibly important. Active children will have fewer issues with blood pressure and cholesterol, along with lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Proper and varied exercise can also help children with their endurance, strength, and flexibility. Plus, fostering an environment in which healthy activities are normalized helps establish a healthy lifestyle for years to come. As we supply children with opportunities for academic development, we should be sure to do the same when it comes to encouraging physical health as well!

2. Relationship-building and cooperative skills

Children who take part in physical activities tend to have more opportunities to play with others. They learn to work with others to achieve a common goal. Passing a ball, running a relay, playing hopscotch, and counting how long a partner can hula hoop all enable children a chance to root for and with others. They can help one another climb the ladder of a tall slide and cheer as they come down. They challenge each other to swing higher or run faster in friendly ways. Expending energy while being with others helps with conflict resolution as well.

Children are less irritable and frustrated when they can work out their emotions in different ways. Sometimes simply taking a walk outside can help with working through a mood or allowing children the space they need to sort out their feelings. Sometimes having children talk through their conflicts with a peer as they bounce a ball or hit a balloon back and forth to each other can yield better results than a stationary conversation. Physical activities will help children build life skills that go beyond the playground. 

3. Improved mental health

When children are physically healthy or consistently engaging in physical activities, they have a healthier mindset about their own bodies and can recognize their own body’s capabilities. When we provide students with different types of sports and activities, whether that be running, jumping, throwing a ball, or team sports, children become more likely to try new things. They will develop an openness to new experiences.

Children will learn to handle stress in healthy ways and develop higher self-esteem. A positive body image can start at a young age as children learn the many amazing things their body has the strength to accomplish through physical education. This can lead to healthier adolescents and, eventually, young adults. The inclusion of exercise has long-term benefits well past the days of childcare.

4. Positive effects on learning

Physical activities are linked to improved brain function due to an increase in oxygen and neurotransmitters. In fact, children who are physically active develop language skills more easily. They respond to stimuli faster and often build strong literacy skills. A child’s ability to focus and learn are associated with physical education, along with an ability to remember and handle stress. This means that embedding physical activities into the day will not distract children. Instead, these exercises will enhance a child’s learning experience. 

Children will be given a more well-rounded and beneficial experience when they are engaged in consistent physical activity. Physical education is an important part of a child’s development and has many immediate and long-term benefits. Encourage children to exercise each day – the results will be happier and all-around healthier kids! 

What are your favorite physical education activities for children? Comment below! 

Linda Valloor

Linda spends her days teaching high schoolers the power of World Literature. She has been a high school teacher for 18 years and has her M.Ed. in Secondary English with a focus on urban and multicultural education. She moved from Illinois to Pennsylvania 15 years ago when she married her wonderful husband, John. She is a mama to 12-year-old twin girls and a younger daughter who is 8. In her spare time, Linda loves to write poetry, cook (and eat) international cuisine, play games too competitively with her family, and snuggle her dog, Rockwell.


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