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Support your children in physical education

Posted December 29, 2016

Upon opening my email, I saw a message from my son's fourth-grade teacher reminding parents that the class would be doing its final mile run to complete the series of timed miles as part of a PE unit it was doing.

As I had done the time before, I made plans to attend so that I could cheer on my son, Ace. I even made sure my husband came home for lunch so that he could watch him run, too.

As we got to the schoolyard, we saw no other parents there, just lines of fourth-graders making their way out to the field.

My husband turned to me with a look of embarrassment.

“Were we supposed to be here?” he asked.

Right then, Ace's teacher waved at us with a smile, which made my husband feel more at ease.

As the run got underway, my husband and I watched as Ace remained back in the middle of the pack, then slowly inched his way to the front. We were amazed at his stride and how natural of a runner he was.

Each time he passed us, we couldn't help but cheer and shout words of encouragement.

With one lap to go, he was nearly stride for stride with another boy in his grade, which prompted us to cheer louder for Ace. And with only a few meters to go, he was able to edge out the boy to come in first.

When I went to congratulate my son, I saw child after child crossing the finish line, exhausted and with no parent to meet them with words of praise and encouragement. I began to think that perhaps I didn’t belong there. Maybe my presence gave my child the edge and without it, the playing field may have been more even.

Just as I was about to resolve never to attend another PE performance again, Ace came up to my husband and I with a smile that said it all: He was grateful for our support.

Right then, I realized that our presence there did give Ace the edge, but it was no different than a parent attending a school play, a math-athon or a spelling bee.

I began to feel sad for the kids whose parents weren't there to cheer them on to a great performance. Had there been more parents, I know there would be more kids trying harder to beat the clock.

More than that, it would send a message that physical education is just as important as any other subject — a message that has sadly been lost in many of today's schools.

So, to you parents of school-age children: Support your children in PE. They need it more than you think.

Arianne Brown is a mother of seven young children who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at ariannebrown1@gmail.com. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write.

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