Physical education is the teaching of healthy, active lifestyles to students. Often called gym or P.E., physical education is a common requirement throughout elementary and junior high school. It is often required in higher levels of education as well, such as high school and college or university.
What is included in a physical education curriculum depends on the grade level and school system. Most elementary physical education systems focus on being active while higher grade level courses include health and nutrition in the course. Physical education is not to be confused with recess or break since it is typically a structured environment with a presiding teacher.
In these classes, students learn the basic rules of many physical games and sports. Young students often do very basic activities, such as kickball, dodge ball and basic exercise moves. Older students learn more detailed sports, such as softball, volleyball, basketball and tennis. This not only encourages a healthy, active lifestyle but gives students the opportunity to try out many different sports and physical activities to find one that interests them.
Physical education also helps develop motor skills, such as eye-hand coordination. This is of particular importance with developmentally disabled students who are behind or students who are simply naturally clumsy. In addition, physical education teaches team work and gives students an opportunity to release excess energy.