How to Encourage Parent Involvement in PE


father and son smile as they play a game of basketball

After a long week of school, you’d think kids would look forward to a weekend of energetic activity and adventures, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, research suggests that children’s physical activity levels are lower on the weekends than on weekdays.

The good news is, there seems to be a way to get kids moving on the weekends: get their parents in on it.

That same research showed that kids whose parents cared about and encouraged physical activity were more likely to be active outside of school hours. As an educator, it’s obvious that you can make a difference in the physical education kids receive at school (and how active they are) — but there are ways you can get parents more involved in kids’ health and fitness at home, too.

Assign Homework for Kids and Parents To Do Together

One of the best ways to get parents involved in PE is to get them actively participating in the teaching themselves. This leading by example approach is especially effective for younger learners who look up to and frequently copy their parents.

To accomplish this, try assigning “home fun.” While it may not be common to have homework for PE classes, there’s no reason your class should be different than other subjects. If you design the assigned activities for a household setting, parents can be engaged and involved in their children’s fitness and health.

Educate Parents About Opportunities for Their Kids

While older students may not emulate their parents to the same degree as young children, parents can still influence the physical activity levels of their middle school and high school children. That is, as long as parents are aware of accessible opportunities to get their kids more physically active. Between long work days, caring for the family, and myriad other commitments, parents may not be able to learn about all the options out there for their kids — perhaps they had their daughter try basketball, but she didn’t enjoy it, so they turned away from sports in general.

As a PE professional, you have access to a plethora of local resources and activities. Connecting parents to opportunities for physical activity will, in turn, open them up to your students. Maybe that student who dislikes softball just hasn’t found the right activity yet —  whether it’s karate, swimming, or ballet!

Get Parents Involved in Healthy Eating

While it’s important to get parents involved in the active aspect of PE, it’s equally important to get them involved in the nutrition aspect of PE. Did you know that only one third of parents feel they’re doing a good job promoting healthy eating for their kids?

Nutritional awareness is lacking in many households. As schools continue to introduce healthier options and get rid of junk food in cafeterias, encouraging parents to do the same at home can have a big impact on children’s health.

Beyond teaching your students about healthy food choices in class, send some information home to parents. Consider assigning light homework activities related to food and nutrition, to get your students working with their parents to eat healthier and have discussions about good food.

Ask Parents to Help Track Their Kids’ Fitness Goals

Have your students track aspects of their health and fitness at home, and encourage parents to get involved in helping them monitor and meet goals.

While you may be able to use wearable activity trackers in class, these may not be accessible to every student at home, unless your PE budget can accommodate sending every child home with one. Instead of tech-based monitors, consider cost-efficient tracking solutions like journals or diaries. Students and their parents can use these to jot down the activities they do outside of school, how long they do them, and even how hard they were. This can help your students and their parents visualize how they measure up to the recommended 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Educators and Parents Must Work Together to Raise Healthy Kids

It’s simple: when kids are more active, they’re healthier — both in body and mind. Not only is low physical activity one of the greatest risk factors for being overweight or obese, but there’s also evidence that healthier kids perform better in school.

While educators can make a difference at school, children spend more time out of school than in — and at least some of that time should be spent engaging in physical activity and cultivating healthy habits.

Since parents are typically the ones making the schedules and planning the activities for time spent outside of school (especially for younger children), making sure parents are educated, supportive, and involved can have an immense impact on children’s success. By combining your efforts with parent influence, educators have a good chance of making students’ weekends — and their holiday breaks — just a little bit more active, healthy, and fit.

Of course, there’s always the added benefit that by encouraging parent involvement in PE, there’s a good chance they’ll practice their own healthy habits, too!

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