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Physical Education Made Simple - Run for it!

Kids love to move. Physical education classes don't have to be complicated or difficult to set up in order for players to have fun and improve their fitness. In fact, in most cases, the simpler the better!

Kids love to run. They don't start having negative feelings towards running until we start taking all the fun out of it! We take the fun out when we make them run for distance, or run as punishment.

Running for Distance:

How can it be bad to run for distance? When you have the class run for distance, all the faster kids are finished first and then they just sit and watch the slow kids suffer. How do the slow kids feel about that? Does it sound fun to have the whole class watch you struggle? Nope. Would it build your confidence? Nope.

What's the solution? How about running for time? If you'd like the class to run a mile, then have the class see how far they can get before you blow the whistle. Watch a student who is in the middle of the bunch do a couple of laps and call time when s/he gets to two laps. Note how long that took. Repeat the task and challenge the students to see if they can get a little bit further the second set. Everyone who beats their own time WINS! Time keeper - here's a tip: give them just a couple extra seconds to make sure that almost everyone beats their distance.

Why this works: Instead of everyone watching the slow kids finish last, everyone gets to workout at their ideal intensity. Kids who need to do a little bit more work to get a challenge from the task will get to do a bit more work, while kids who aren't quite as fit can work out at their perfect intensity too. An intensity where they feel challenged without feeling embarrassed or ridiculed. You don't need to tell them how far they're trying to get - just let them know it's ok to be wherever they are on the track when the whistle blows, but to remember how many laps they got so that they'll know when they are improving.

Running as Punishment:

This is obviously a bad idea, but one that is still common practice. Why shouldn't we have kids run to teach them a lesson for misbehavior? Because it makes them hate running. All the while they're running they're not only thinking negative thoughts about you, but about running and exercising in general, and these thoughts stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Next week: Running for stress relief and other great ways to encourage positive behavior in and out of the classroom.

Need some great ideas for physical education or recreation? Check out

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