Last week, I drove over to my son's elementary school around noon to watch him take his half mile run in gym class. Parents were sent home notes inviting us to watch and to cheer. The temp was about 39 degrees with a biting 30 MPH wind making the winchill feel like something between the North Pole and a Minnesota January.
Arriving early, I waited in my car for the first graders to walk to the track. I noticed something immediately.....
About a third of the older kids, out at recess, were not playing at the playground, playing soccer, football, or playing dolls; one third of the kids outside were running the track!
These elementary kids were running on a 400 meter track on their own! For recess!
Here is the background: At this school, kids get gym about 1 hour a week. The gym teacher, with the goal of increasing fitness, wanted a program that would last the other days of the week.
In addition to the other sports he teaches, he decided to emphasize running. He had the kids do shorter runs building up to the 1/2 mile run. The older students do a full mile. The times are all recorded to measure progress. Students are asked to run outside of class. They can record their outside runs. Anyone recording accumulated mileage of 26, 100, and 400 miles is rewarded and their names posted on walls at thew school.
I do have a bias here, having run a few marathons, I welcome teaching kids about the value of fitness. When I was in high school, I remember other students in gym class dreading the running. I know the kids hated getting out of breath, being overheated, and having exhausted jelly limbs.
In running, initially it can be very hard to start out. I found this out when I gained 40 extra pounds after having a couple kids and stopping my workout routines. Over time, once you break through the initial peroid, running is an incredible activitiy to reduce stress, and gain energy and lose weight.
Back to my son's run.... The gym teacher postponed the run for the next week. Too cold. However, just yesterday, my son completed his 1/2 mile run- 2nd place in the class, with a time of 4 minutes 14 seconds. Not bad for a 1st grader......
Most kids ran the entire distance.
I am a proud father.......... This morning, my son was asking if we could go out for a run today..... Full circle, my son is encouraging me to get back into shape!
I hear from time to time the Limbaugh types poking fun at Michelle Obama and her obesity campaigns. My son's school is at a public school in a primarily republican suburban area.
I see this as an example of something schools can do right. I would love for my son to have phy ed more often, but at what expense of other subjects? He is involved with some other sports, but he already seems inclined to the individual sports like running.
The teacher's next step is to require all kids doing recess to run a lap around the track before playing outside for recess.
I love it!