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So much to teach, so little time

March 24, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

Making an impact on students' physical fitness is increasingly difficult in the school systems, however, phys-ed teachers said.

With new schedule arrangements, kids are spending less time in physical-education class.

"I've lost 1,200 minutes per year of the time I see my kids due to scheduling changes, so that's what I battle," said Cindy Neugebauer, a physical-education teacher at Lincolnshire Elementary School in Halfway.

In Washington County, elementary school students get one to two physical-education classes each week.

To incorporate a health lesson into physical education, Cindy Young, has her elementary students run relays while assembling the human skeleton.

"About two years ago health was put into the responsibility of the physical education teacher. Because we only see the kids for X amount of minutes, we've had to figure out, 'How can I keep them active but still talk about the circulatory system and respiratory system?' That's how the curriculum has changed," said Young, a physical-education teacher at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown.

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Melissa Johnson, executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, an advisory council to the U.S. president, applauds the efforts of teachers who try to teach kids that fitness is part of their overall education.

"I really think it's important that physical education be seen as very valuable," Johnson said. "It's much more than movement. It's also about learning how to value yourself." Physical education should teach social interaction, teamwork and cooperation, she said. Physical education also can help motivate kids to be active outside of class. Johnson said the council realizes physical education cannot provide all of the activity kids need in a given week. The president's council recommends children get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity most days of the week.

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