It’s another day after school that my daughter climbs into the car in a huff. She is visibly upset about something and by this point in the school year I have a feeling I know what it is.
“People got mad at me in P.E. again” she exclaims with a pseudo sigh. She’s come to expect it now – much like I expect her exasperated tone when it comes to this topic. I can’t tell you how many times she’s voiced her frustrations to me about P.E. class. If you were to survey 100 elementary school kids what their favorite subject was in school, I would guess that 75-90% of them would reply with P.E. or recess (even though recess isn’t actually a subject). Hands down my daughter is one of the 90% – she LOVES P.E. class. She’s an active kid and loves all sports. She plays soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and she tumbles. She would rather be outside playing than inside on an iPad or playing dress-up.
But the reality is that not all kids are like her. There are a lot of girls who hate P.E. They don’t like to sweat. They don’t like to move. They would much rather stand around and talk to each other. When the ball comes their way, they dodge it or get duck out of the way. Many times they ignore it and don’t even try. And when my daughter says to them, “Hey, can you please stop talking and play?” – she says they just get upset at her.
Try explaining those kids’ point of view to a 9 year-old competitive girl. It’s like trying to explain why the world is round to a rock.
To be honest, it’s unsettling to me as well. Fitness and health have always been a part of my life. Knowing the obesity rates in children in this country are at an all time high frustrates me and angers me. We are doing children nothing but a disservice by cutting physical education programs in schools. We are effectively telling them that physical activity and movement DOES NOT MATTER. What the hell kind of message is that?
When this generation of kids graduate, become adults and have children of their own, will they be proponents of exercise and health? I don’t even need to answer this question for you.
Quite frankly, the quality of instruction across the board is not as high as it should be. Effective teachers are able to excite all kids to move and play so that there aren’t as many standing around and talking. Budget cuts give physical education programs less money to spend on quality instructors and equipment, which is only making the situation worse. I once saw my daughter’s PE teacher sitting on a chair in the gym on his phone while there were 20 kids on each side of a volleyball net. Tell me how that’s effective teaching?
Sadly, for children such as my daughter who love sports, love to compete and run and play, not much can be done except from us moms. We are left with the frustrations and tears in the car after school. We are left with explaining to our daughters that not everyone likes the same activities and we need to be respectful of others’ opinions. We need to be encouraging to those friends in class instead of frustrated with them. We need to try to let things go sometimes. We can’t control anything but our own actions and words, so we must focus on doing the best we can. These are the lessons we can teach our daughters if we take the opportunity to do so. Because in reality, not everyone thinks like us.
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