Sit down! This is P.E.

Twice this year, I received notes home that informed me that my child had refused to sit still and listen during his P.E. class. You know, GYM class.

The time when our children are supposed to get a state-mandated amount of running-around time at school, lest they grow up to be morbidly obese people who, say, sit still and listen all day. (And maybe work in five hours of TV, too.)

I know disciplining grade-school kids can be really tough for teachers, and I know my child is no angel, but I am pretty sure he’s entitled, by law, to be as active as he can be when it comes time to go to a course that exists so that children will grow up to be as active as they can be.

It’s his fourth year in school, and we’ve never had anything other than glowing reports. But this year, there is a new emphasis at his school on listening to painstakingly detailed game rules and practicing drills.

As one very talented soccer fanatic boy I know recently shared, “They actually found a way to make soccer boring!”

Are teachers now so attentive to getting our kids into shape that they are implementing rules and curricula that make it necessary for kids to hear lectures about how fitness is awesome, while getting almost no opportunity to get physically fit?

What a mistake. To sit and listen in their academic classes, kids need time to run like banshees. Or they’re going to be pure terrors when they get back to reading and math.

The solution? “If he won’t sit still,” I wrote, “you could try having him run around first.”

I’d love to hear what’s going on in other P.E. classes. What are your thoughts?



  1. Anonymous

    One of the problems is your premise about the existence of PE. PE doesn’t exist so kids pay attention in reading and math and it doesn’t exist to “run around”. PE is not recess and it is not meant as an escape or an outlet for kids with hyperactivity. Fitness, health and wellness are at the forefront and sometimes, to learn rules to a game, students need to sit and listen, hopefully for a minimum of time. Obviously, not having observed your child’s class or his teacher’s methods, I can’t speak to how long lectures last, but kids’ ideas about fun need to mature as they age. Rules being introduced are there for safety, for learning the sport itself, for leveling the competition, and to teach that sport is not just physical, but intellectual.

    1. Jillian O'Connor (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment! I think that in a solid P.E. class, the kids spend time learning through doing. Obviously, they need to learn the rules. Overemphasis on sitting for lectures will not show them the way to fitness. One benefit to this being in the school curriculum is that kids will reap the benefits of that exercise within the rules throughout the day and gain better health and attentiveness. Isn’t one of the goals to show kids exercise is a good thing? I don’t think they get to that conclusion in third grade by listening for half the class, regardless of mandates on how this should be taught.


Comments: What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: