Sports in elementary school: physical education specialists vs. group teachers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


Introduction In elementary school, children have to learn fundamental motor skills to ensure a lifetime participation in sports. An essential part of this learning process is organized in physical education lessons and other sport activities during or after school time. The quality and quantity of these activities play a crucial role on the effects. Therefore, forty-two physical education specialists provide physical education lessons and organize extra sport activities on 220 primary schools in the province of Friesland (The Netherlands). Experience In order to monitor the effects a research project started in 2011. Around four hundred children are monitored over four years on motor skills, sport participation, physical activity and Body Mass Index. Differences between experimental schools and control schools (without physical education specialists) are assessed. With still one year to go, the first results are promising in favor of the physical education specialist. Critical analysis Promising results might persuade schools and policy makers to structurally employ physical education specialists. This might be in favor for the development of motor skills and eventually stimulate children to be more physically active on short term and even on long term. However, more research is needed on the quality of the activities to maximize the effect of physical education lessons and sport activities. Conclusions The physical education specialist plays a crucial role in the development of motor skills and thereby contribute to the physical activity of children in elementary school. To strengthen the position of the physical education specialist in the educational system in the Netherlands and to guarantee a physically active future for our children, more research in physical education is more than welcome. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Sports
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014


  • body mass index
  • motor ability
  • physical activity
  • physical education
  • sport participation
  • sport sciences
  • elementary schools
  • children


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