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    My second grade daughter’s school had their Open House tonight.  It was exactly what you’d expect; shiny floors, all the teachers and admins in their Sunday best, bulletin boards with encouraging messages and materials stacked on each student desk.  We had a fantastic time, by the end of the 30 minutes we were there Ryann declared it, “The best classroom ever.”  Then we went home.

      Our take home assignment for Ryann was a Scavenger Hunt but for Mom and Dad it was the stack of forms required by Baltimore County Public Schools..  On top of all those fun emergency cards and photo permission slips was the class schedule and for the first time we learned about the subject “Collaborative Arts”.  I don’t know what “Collaborative Arts” is, and I’m certainly not ready to pass judgment on it.  However, I do know that Ryann’s participation in it means she will have, at most, 36 physical education classes this year.  Last year she had 45.  Ugh.

      I like my daughter’s school and administrative staff.  She has been treated well and continues to grow academically.   However, I’m frustrated.  She needs to move, she needs to learn skill, she needs to work in that cooperative environment that the gym provides, and now she has ten less chances.  What is a parent to do?

      Experience tells me there is 0 chance that the schedule changes this year. However, I’ve already sent my first email to the administration asking what Collaborative Arts is. and expressing disappointment that PE (as well as Music, Art, and Library) were decreased.  I’m sure my wife would tell me to stop being “that parent”, who is emailing on Back to School night but I have to advocate.  If I don’t advocate for what I think is best for kids then who will?  

      As a parent, and a physical educator I encourage you to have the challenging conversation with administrators about what is happening in physical education classrooms.  Ask, listen, dialogue but stick to your beliefs of the value of physical education in our schools.

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  1. Derek Scott

    Hey Chris, good reflection on the parent perspective. I can’t imagine being a physical educator-parent and experiencing that frustration in knowing that educational course programming in your child’s school does not reflect what’s best for your child. We have roughly 36 days with our kids by November at my school! What a struggle it must be for those teachers and students where movement and play is clearly not a priority. With all due respect to your wife, I say keep being “that parent” when it comes to your child’s physical education experience!

  2. Nathan Rusk

    Hey Chris, really nicely written piece. It can be very frustrating having an opinion on a given topic and having the school think something else. Being a student, I can tell you that you are absolutely right to be “that” parent and to try and change the way things are. Activity is crucial to being a successful student, I don’t care what anyone says. Students can’t be expected to sit in desks the whole day and pay attention for a long period of time. The brain physically needs activity and I encourage you to keep pushing for more days than 36!

  3. Morgan Gottel

    Hi Chris,

    Although I am not a parent, I am a future HPE teacher. I understand how frustrating this must be for you to understand, especially since now they are cutting the hours down. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you being “that parent,” because it shows you care about your child receiving an education for all of their well being.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Carlie Senatore

    Hi Chris, I am a health and physical education teaching candidate from West Chester University. As a future teacher, learning about scheduling in schools, and understanding that physical education time is being dramatically cut, is alarming. The positive emotional, social, and mental benefits of physical activity are far too important for physical education to be decreasing over the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily. Not only does physical education benefit overall wellness, it teaches lifelong skills such as improving relationships, and promoting cooperative work with others. Has the physical educator at this school coordinated any before or after school programs? Thank you for sharing!

  5. Grant Myers

    Hi Chris, I am a health and physical education teaching candidate from West Chester University. Although I am not a parent I understand your frustration. Students need physical education class. According to the CDC children and adolescents should get around 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Along with that it has been shown that physical activity can improve students ability to focus and their grades. I do not think their is anything wrong with being “that parent” and I do think this issues should be addressed because physical education is important. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Tyler Charles Lipman

    Good Afternoon Mr. Hersl,

    I am a health and physical education teacher candidate at West Chester University. I read your post and I understand what you are saying. Even though I am not a parent, I can imagine it is frustrating to see your child receive less physical education this school year as compared to last year. It is a shame that she is only going to receive 36 physical education classes all school year. There is evidence that shows participation in physical education helps students perform better in school. It is also a shame that most administrators and school districts overlook physical education and health. Hopefully more people are proactive in advocating for health and physical education like you are with your daughter’s school!

  7. Austin Hunter Sensenig

    Hi Christopher, I am a Health and Physical Education teacher candidate from West Chester University and soon to be student teacher. According to the CDC children and adolescents should get around 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. It seems that you have some worry that this is not going to be provided to your daughter, and I agree with how you are handling the situation. Something should be said to the administration and a change should be made. Learning how to cooperate with others and learn motor and cognitive skills during gym is a crucial part of a students education and should not be taken away from students anymore than it already is! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Clayton Charles Harwick

    Hi Christopher,
    Thank you for your post! Being a physical education teacher candidate at West Chester University, reading this story of the scheduling issues with your daughter’s physical education class is alarming to me. Especially being in second grade! It is crucial that students of that age are learning how to properly move through space. Not only does physical education teach students how to properly move, but it creates a social setting where they can develop their social skills, as well as working with others. I appreciate your concern with these scheduling issues, concerns being expressed this way can bring attention to what is important with physical education and how our youth need it. Thank you again!

  9. Lucy

    Hi Christopher, I am a West Chester University teacher candidate. Unfortunately, there are still many people who believe other subjects are more important than physical education. They focus on helping students improve their test scores in math, science, etc. However, they do not realize that the benefits of a quality physical education program can have a significant positive impact on academic performance. The more active students are, the more they are able to focus in other classes. The more confident they are, the more likely it is they will do well in other classes. The more they learn about teamwork, the better they work with their peers in other classes. We have the opportunity to impact students in so many ways. Students need physical education to do well in other classes, and they also need it to learn skills they can use throughout their lives. I think you did the right thing by asking questions and expressing your concerns. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Morgan Gottel

    Hi Chris,
    I am a current West Chester University teacher candidate in the health and physical education program. Reading your post made me frustrated for you, even though I am not a parent. I know that as a future parent, and future educator, I want the students to be up and moving while learning as well. I can imagine your disappointment when finding out that not only was her time in the specialty classes decreased, but the programs were all together. I think that as a culture, we are moving in the right direction for understanding how important leading a healthy lifestyle is and overall wellbeing. However, I think the schools need to really jump on board with that belief as well. Good luck with this school year!

  11. Brianna Hires

    Hi Christopher!

    As a parent and physical educator knowing what your daughter deserves in physical education class and seeing that she is not getting it I’m sure can feel defeating. I am not a parent, but as a Health and PE teacher candidate at West Chester University I can feel your frustration. Children do need to move, learn skills, and work in cooperative environments to benefit the student as a whole. I appreciate you taking the time to write an email and advocate for the kids, like you said if you don’t who will? I do believe we are headed in the right direction but more of us need to continue to advocate and get the students moving in moderate-vigorous physical activity for 60 minutes a day.. The children of our society deserve a well planned, standards based physical education class. It is crucial that we continue to do our part as professionals for our students. Thank you for doing yours.

  12. Bryce J. Sadler

    Hello Chris,
    Thank you for sharing some of your thoughts and feelings concerning your daughters health and physical education. I am a health and physical education teacher candidate at West Chester University so I feel your pain when it comes to students not receiving adequate time in physical education. As I’m sure you know, physical activity can have a positive impact on student learning in other subject areas as well. Sometimes it feels like administrators overlook the importance of physical education in our schools. I want to encourage you to keep on advocating for your daughter at her elementary school. Hopefully the administration will realize what the students are missing out on and recognize the positive impact that physical education has on student learning as well as the affective skills that they learn. Thank you!