Beyond Dodgeball: Gym classes teach more than how to throw a ball

March 27, 2012 | Posted in: Elementary

Ask any elementary school kid to name their favorite class and chances are they’ll say gym. Playing games for an hour with classmates can be a welcome reprieve a few times a week from the rigors of the classroom.

And while it should go without saying there are physical benefits to gym class, important life lessons are imparted on the gym floor as well. From reinforcing classroom concepts to teaching cooperation and sharing, physical education helps develop important social skills while building strong bodies. Gym class benefits students because it…

Reinforces classroom concepts.

An obstacle course is one way to enhance motor skills, but it also teaches cooperation and sharing while reinforcing proper use of prepositions – go across the balance beam, over the rope and around the cones. Gym class is also a venue to learn math. Do 20 jumping jacks and your child is practicing counting; draw a four-square court and create the opportunity to talk about fractions.

Promotes cooperation: It’s no fun being the last one picked for a team in gym class, but many activities require team members to cooperate in order to achieve a goal. A child’s P.E. grade often reflects how well – or poorly – they play with others. Learning to work together toward a common goal while encouraging teammates is a life skill that will ultimately be useful at home, on the job and in everyday life.

Teaches problem solving.

Gym class games often require teammates to weigh their options and make a choice about the best action to take to be successful in a challenge. For example, a group of students who are told to move across a gym using only two scooters has to figure out how to make that happen. Does one person “shuttle” a teammate then return to home base, or do they take turns shutting teammates so no one gets too tired? It’s up to the group to decide the best solution.

Addresses social skills.

Physical education helps children socialize with others and provides opportunities to learn and follow rules. In addition to learning how to get along and encourage one another, students experience the meaning of teamwork and good sportsmanship, such as by shaking hands and congratulating classmates after a game.

Promotes goal setting.

Students set and strive for personal, achievable goals. Whether it’s learning how to play floor hockey or being able to do five more sit-ups than the previous year, students are able to set a goal and gain a sense of accomplishment from meeting it.

Gym class offers one of the few opportunities during school that kids can play and have fun together without breaking the rules. As an added benefit, it provides life lessons that are definitely worth jumping up and down about.drug prevention


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