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Physical education is an academic discipline that involves the study of human movement and its impact on health and quality of life. Physical education and physical activity have short- and long-term influences on the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial health and development of children and adolescents. Physical education in schools provides all students access to standards-based instruction that promotes health literacy, and the motivation to engage in the health-enhancing physical activity needed to achieve and maintain a balanced, healthy life. Physical education areas of study include human anatomy, physiology, exercise science, and kinesiology needed to apply discipline-specific biomechanical concepts critical to the development of physically literate individuals; psychology and socio-cultural analysis of functional fitness and sport; and other health-related fields in kinesiology.
The Physical Education Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools identify the academic content for the essential concepts, processes, and skills for physical education in kindergarten through grade twelve. These standards provide school divisions and teachers with a guide for creating aligned curricula and learning experiences in physical education to help students understand the benefits of achieving and maintaining a physically active lifestyle and learn the skills necessary for performing a variety of physical activities.
Physical education is unique in that it focuses on learning about and learning through physical activity. It offers many opportunities for students to build positive interpersonal relationships, improve self-esteem, communicate effectively, set goals, apply strategies to enhance performance, exercise self-management skills, collaborate, and develop a sense of social responsibility. It also provides a meaningful foundation for further study in preparation for careers related to the health sciences, sport and exercise science, education, recreation and leisure industries, physical performance, coaching, and fitness and community health management.
The physical education standards are grouped into five overarching content strands: Motor Skill Development, Anatomical Basis of Movement, Fitness Planning, Social Development, and Energy Balance. The standards in each strand are sequenced to progress in complexity from grade level to grade level. Achieving the performance expectations from the previous grade level serves as the foundation for attaining the benchmarks at the next level. The standards are intended to provide students with the necessary knowledge, processes, and skills to become physically educated, physically fit, socially competent, and able to make healthy choices for a lifetime.