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Your first grader and PE

First graders learn about the value of teamwork through group fun like dancing and playing tag.

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.

A happy, healthy heart

It’s never too early to get active, so first graders should use exercise to learn new athletic skills. (It’s a worthy goal to be able to recognize and enjoy a good workout.) As physical education specialist Amy Kaiser explains, “Young children often have short bursts of energy. Then [they] stop and wonder why their chests are thumping. Sometimes there’s a fear that something’s wrong.”

“It’s wonderful to [experience] the celebration of muscles and heart and lungs all working together,” Kaiser adds. “A ‘happy heart workout’ is a lesson learned for a lifetime.”

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