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Your kindergartner and PE

From jumping to throwing to catching, kindergartners work on a range of movements.

By GreatSchools Staff

Whatever you thought of gym class, the current debate over childhood obesity has made PE more relevant than ever. As the website for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign informs us, kids need “60 minutes of active and vigorous play every day to grow up to a healthy weight.” Some schools are even using video games to lure kids to the gym. In an ideal setting, PE doesn’t just improve fitness — it also reduces stress, strengthens friendships, and improves self-confidence and self-esteem.

Is your child getting the physical education he needs? Check out our grade-by-grade guidelines to see what kids should be learning in PE.

Valuing fitness

In kindergarten, children begin to learn the value of physical activity. They should practice fitness while learning new movements and working to develop key social skills, including good sportsmanship.

Kindergartners should also learn to try new types of activities. As physical education specialist Amy Kaiser explains, “There are skills to learn and games to play. Nothing can be accomplished unless the child feels safe enough to try something new.”

Kaiser likens PE to a science lab. “Physical education is the ‘laboratory of life,’” she says. “Children [should] challenge their bodies and brains to try new tasks, accept difficult challenges, and learn a different vocabulary. When students fall down, they have to stand up again. If they drop a ball, they pick it up again. And if they lose, they learn to say, ‘That was a great game. I want to play again.’”

Movin' and groovin'

Kindergartners should be able to try new ways of moving, whether it’s galloping, hopping, walking, running, jumping, leaping, skipping, or sliding. Kids should practice these movements while experimenting with changes in speed and direction. And teachers can play music in the background to encourage children's creative instincts.

Classic games like jump rope can also be a great way for children to improve their balance, coordination, and aerobic capabilities. “Jumping rope is a universal game that has skills rooted in many sports,” says Kaiser. “It’s also fun and inexpensive.”


Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

05/19/2008:
"I think it is rather unusual that my step daughter has a difficult time with paying attention and ingnoring the gym coach. According to her Kindergarden teacher, she wonders off and does 'her own thing'. How can I address this and rectify this behavior at home?"
12/26/2007:
"This article is very good and help me to teach kindergarten better"
05/24/2007:
"Intellectual delvelopment, emotional stability and self control are improved with daily physical activity. Excellence in education should be a/b teaching the whole child not just the part. It's like a four legged table without one leg it is unstable. The school that allows daily physical education will reap the benefits of higher test scores and fewer discipline problems. Subsequently, the fidgety child will not be an issue in the classroom when afforded the increased physical activity and misdiagnoses of ADHD will decrease. "
05/22/2007:
"This was great information to learn. I wasn't sure what she did in PE other than 'run around like a nut' which she enjoys immensely. Thanks for the inside point a view and suggestions on how to further develop these skills at home"
05/18/2007:
"There are rumours that our school may drop K-PE. I would very dissappointed in a school system that doesnt consider PHYSICAL EDUCATION to be as equally important as a 'mental education'. Children (of all ages) need not only to learn about being healthy, but also to practice being healthy. In todays society, many families have two working parents. With an early bedtime (around 8), most families only get a few hours of together time in an average day. Should we give up reading time, or bath time so that we can get them their required physical time? It is my opinion that public schools who want to drop kindergarten PE dont really care about our kids at all. They only want to teach the kids what they need to know for the school to pass its standard requirements. It is a sad society when a statistic(percentage of passing children) is more important than the child himself"
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