Each state mandates how much of the school week schools should devote to elementary physical education courses. Recess time typically doesn’t count toward that time allotment. Elementary physical education teachers often work with the classroom teachers to incorporate nutrition, health, safety and other skills included in the physical education curriculum into the classroom science curriculum. To prepare for this profession, a prospective teacher must be aware of her state’s teaching requirements for physical educators.
A physical education teacher often receives her certificate to teach in all grades kindergarten through 12. Along with the basic liberal arts classes in math, science, language and history required for a bachelor’s degree, the education major takes courses in anatomy, first aid, motor development, lifetime fitness and aerobic conditioning. Universities also include in these introductory courses the foundations of physical education, legal issues within the profession and prevention of athletic injuries. The exercise component of these courses helps prepare the college student for the elementary physical education job, which often requires the teacher to lead eight to 10 half-hour classes daily with little chance to be sedentary.
Physical Education Courses
An elementary physical education teacher needs to be able to teach a variety of activities suitable for all of the grade levels in her school. To be able to do that, the education major takes classes in individual sports, such as aquatics and gymnastics. She also takes classes in the major team sports, such as basketball. Her classes typically include methods of measurement and evaluation, as well as the science behind the movements of the human body.
Like other education majors, the physical education major takes a variety of classes that provide the educational theory necessary for a teaching certificate. This includes classes taken with other education majors, such as educational psychology and issues in education, and courses designed specifically for physical education majors, such as elementary physical education and secondary physical education. These courses often include training for working with special education students.
A semester of student teaching or classroom internship serves as the capstone activity for an elementary physical education major. During that time, she works in a school under the supervision of an experienced elementary physical education teacher. The student teacher prepares and delivers lesson plans and is often responsible for the same day-to-day activities as the regular teacher. This might include grading students, conferring with parents and attending professional development activities.
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