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, P.E. 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 she needs? Check out our grade-by-grade guidelines to see what kids should be learning in PE.
Third graders should learn about the benefits of regular physical activity. Their new knowledge should allow them to articulate the importance of a lifestyle that includes getting enough sleep and eating well.
PE can often influence decisions over a lifetime, as children start to understand how the choices they make affect them and their peers. In third grade, students begin to take fitness tests. As physical education specialist Amy Kaiser explains: “Fitness tests are a gauge to see where a child [stands]. Children can look at their results and set a goal to increase or practice that skill in order to improve the next time.”
Many students at this age get involved in physical activities outside of school. “It is so exciting after teaching a unit that we can have a class discussion about opportunities in the community to increase participation,” Kaiser says. “Students start to connect their school lives to the greater community around them.”
To encourage physical activity at home, Kaiser suggests decreasing the amount of screen time: “As a parent truly one of the most helpful things you can do is turn off the TV. Think of TV like the fats and oils section of the food pyramid: OK in moderation but not healthy in large quantities for a healthy diet. Turning off the TV encourages outdoor play, creativity, and more interaction with friends and family members.”
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