Can You Get Your Child Out of Gym Class? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard of some kids getting their parents to convince the doctor to send the school a note.

Does anyone here have experience with this?

DH and I have been discussing this. It's a distance away (DD is only a baby), but we'd like to send DD to a nice public school. However, we both hate the idea of making her attend a gym class when she gets older.

We have both had very negative experiences with it in middle through high school. While it's great kids can get exercise and learn new activities, we've both found gym to increase over-competitiveness and bullying. I also feel it's completely absurd when schools "measure" children (weight, arm fat with those horrible fat caliber instruments, height, etc...). It's horrible how they line them up. That is our and our doctor's job—not the government's! On top of that, we learned absolutely nothing new in gym (aside from archery) after 6th grade. It was just the same thing over and over again.

So we'd love to find ways to pull DD out permanently when she gets older (somewhere between 4th and 6th grade). We plan on having her do an extra-curricular physical activity to make sure she'd gain skills, learn teamwork, and stay active (martial arts, running).

Thanks!
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#2 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:28 PM
 
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No experience with pulling them out of gym class but my 1st and 3rd grader LOVE PE days. Just b/c the parents had a negative experience doesn't mean the children will, ya know? I am just imagining my kid having to sit out, on the sides if I insisted they couldn't participate in gym. That seems more embarrassing then not being the best physically at something. Unless there is a medical reason, I don't see public schools being able to accommodate for this (as in, having your child do an alternate activity, or staying in the classroom) b/c they don't have the staffing for that. It's like if someone didn't want their kid going outside every day for recess - who would stay in to watch them?

I guess you could call the school district and see what their policy is... of course, there's no way to know how things will be handled years from now.

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#3 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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I'm not sure you'd be able to pull her unless she has a condition with doesn't allow her to perform physical activities at all. PE is usually a required class that is worth high school credits. And even if you managed to get her out of it, you have to consider two things:
1) She's going to have to make up that credit somehow, either though written reports about sports or something equally boring (this is usually what people did at my schools when they could not participate due to prolonged injury or illness)
2) Pulling her is singling her out, and may expose her to more bullying and teasing, as that girl that's "too good for PE" or "has crazy parents" or whatever. She may not appreciate your efforts to curtail her participation in gym with her other classmates.

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#4 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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I didn't have to take PE in high school because I was in band.

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#5 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I started this topic not as a debate as to whether or not its "right," but to see if anyone else has done it and how.

Thank you!
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#6 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:38 PM
 
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I know you mentioned pulling her out beginning somewhere between 4th-6th grade but I just wanted to mention that many highschools have neat PE options. My HS had swimming, tennis, weightlifting, etc. I am not a sporty, extra physical person by any means but I still loved some of my PE classes. My all time favorite HS class happened to be Bowling, which was a PE class - we were bussed to the closest bowling ally every day and it was a blast!

Also, I somehow managed to get through middle and high school without ever having to shower in the locker room - if that's something you are concerned about- maybe it was just my school but it wasn't the norm (nor was their time between classes) to get completely naked and shower.

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#7 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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a few kids in our middle school were allowed out of PE in order to take two foreign languages or to take both art and band or band and orchestra. the kids had to demonstrate participation in a fitness program (like private swim team, or competitive soccer).

in high school, where two credits of PE were required for graduation, many kids took it over the summer where it was running or swimming--not group sports. We also offered early morning PE for students who wanted to take more academic classes during the school day. the group of students in early morning PE were typically pretty focused and not interested in bullying other students.

But, PE has evolved a lot since my childhood. there is a good chance you will be surprised by the curriculum and environment in your child's PE class.
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#8 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:42 PM
 
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Honestly I dont see that happening. PE is usually considered a required course similar to english/math/social studies. Most people are not able to get out of it unless there is a medical reason behind it and even then they would still need to "be there" only they would have to substitute something for it. I remember kids who were injured or had asthma would have to do toher things that well were boring or even more ostracizing than having them participate. That being said you still have quite a ways from that so things may change. In high school after 10th grade it was considered an "elective" thereby you could opt out.
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#9 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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The way I got "out" of PE in high school was taking "Wilderness Survival" class. So I still had to take PE, but it was in a very different form -- learning how to make fires and stuff. That might be an option, if the school offers it.

My sister had a physical condition that made her not be able to run and stuff, but she still had to take PE. She just sat out during the running, but had to learn the skills, like bowling.
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#10 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
My all time favorite HS class happened to be Bowling, which was a PE class - we were bussed to the closest bowling ally every day and it was a blast! .
We had yoga. Really! Public school in the 80s!!!

They never measured or weighed us. Is that really common? We had to do physical fitness tests (the "flex arm hang", and run while picking up blocks, lol), but nothing involving a scale.
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#11 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:11 PM
 
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You need to research the laws in the state you live in. Many states require students to take a certain number of PE classes in order to graduate.

That said, it's a LONG time until your LO will be in middle school. I'd suggest taking it one year at a time, rather than worrying about something that may or may not actually be a problem.

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#12 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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I doubt they would let you pull her without a medical note from her Dr and even then in most schools that just excuses the student from regular PE and places them in adaptive PE that involves activities that will not cause a problem with her medical restrictions.
Honestly, most kids love PE - why not let her go and form her own opinions about the class - she might love it!
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#13 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I don't think you will be able to convince a doctor to make up a fake excuse for you. That is highly unethical and I would not even want my child to go to a doctor who would be willing to lie to a school like that.

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#14 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:47 PM
 
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Both DS1 and DS2 just had their orientation for public school (elementary) yesterday. In the packets of forms, there was one on P.E... and whether they could participate fully, partially, or whatever. It was up to the parent.

I will say that gym/P.E. is a lot different these days vs. when I was in school (in the 80s.) Seems to be more about encouraging lifetime fitness rather than a bunch of jumping jacks, squat thrusts, etc.

In the younger grades, there seems to be more of a focus on making it fun... at least a lot more than it was when I attended.

Why not let your child try it... and then decide if s/he wants to continue? I've learned that I'm completely different from my kids in terms of temperament, athletic ability, etc.

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#15 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Walk Unafraid View Post
I started this topic not as a debate as to whether or not its "right," but to see if anyone else has done it and how.
In our high school you could "get out of" PE if you were consistently in sports, or doing something athletic outside of school. This was if you wanted to take another academic subject and could prove you were getting more than the minimum excercise/instruction you would be in PE.

DD is going into 6th grade and still really likes PE. She is not very atheltic or coordinated and DP & I both hated PE but we're trying to let her have her own experiences. It's hard sometimes, though. In her school, though, there is a LOT less bullying/excluding then happened when we were in school--- so far at least.

 

 

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#16 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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The only way I know that kids can get out of PE around here in middle and high school is by getting a "waiver". To qualify for a waiver, the student has to be on a competitive level sports team with practice of at least 10 hours per week.

In high school if your kids are on a sports team or in our district, marching band, these also qualify for PE credit. Here, we need two years of PE to graduate. So, for example, if you play a spring sport every year, second semester, it would count as 2 total years (4 semesters).

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#17 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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I will tell you that when I was in high school, we were required to play three seasons of sports. I went to the head of the P.E. department and proposed that I be allowed to take an aerobics class each day (5 days per week) rather than doing a sport. Showing how clueless they were, they said no... and said it was preferable that I "manage" a sports team (getting no physical activity whatsoever) rather than do an hour of aerobics myself.

Times have changed... so if your DC finds that they like karate, yoga, or whatever... you could try and proposition the school to count those activities for P.E. Perhaps keep a log or whatever. Who knows, they might even accept a pedometer, 10,000 steps per day type walking program.

As for measuring... my school did that and I hated it. The biggest problem was there wasn't any sort of reality check. I was 15 pounds "overweight" but it might have been 50 for how I was singled out and treated. These days, I'm sure they send some sort of note home about measuring...and I would either opt my child out or conveniently be sick that day.

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#18 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The only way I know that kids can get out of PE around here in middle and high school is by getting a "waiver". To qualify for a waiver, the student has to be on a competitive level sports team with practice of at least 10 hours per week.

In high school if your kids are on a sports team or in our district, marching band, these also qualify for PE credit. Here, we need two years of PE to graduate. So, for example, if you play a spring sport every year, second semester, it would count as 2 total years (4 semesters).
That makes sense and it is exactly the kind of thing we're interested in doing with our DD. I am a firm believer in the importance of physical activity (I run marathons, take yoga and martial arts classes).

I do believe PE is great and fun for kids in elementary school. After that, though, it's been my experience (as well as my DH's and other folks I've talked to) that it's only useful in that it makes the kids sort of exercise. Other then that, it's been worthless as far as educational value. They'd repeat the same things over and over again. BORING.

Just my experience—as well as my husband's and a few friends (we all went to different schools in different states on the East Coast).
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#19 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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I don't know how you'd do it, but I'm sure there's a way.

That said, when I was pregnant, I felt the same way you do. I hated gym and was prepared to do whatever it took to save my child from its horribleness.

Fast forward 9 years, I have 6 and 9yo boys. They love P.E. And not just because they're boys. But because we have a super cool, wonderful woman who teaches PE at our school. It's nothing like what I experienced. There is lots of encouragement and support and absolutely no bullying or humiliation.

If there was, believe you me, I'd pull whatever strings it took to get my boys out of it.

So what I say is, good for you for strategizing now, but I would definitely take a wait and see approach. Your dd might end up at a school like ours and like it.
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#20 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:07 PM
 
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I do believe PE is great and fun for kids in elementary school. After that, though, it's been my experience (as well as my DH's and other folks I've talked to) that it's only useful in that it makes the kids sort of exercise. Other then that, it's been worthless as far as educational value. They'd repeat the same things over and over again. BORING.
gym has changed alot since you were in school. I'd honestly not even worry about it until Grade 7(or whenever a child in your district goes to middle school).

Taking a child out in grades 4-6 when you believe it is fun at that age makes no sense.

They may have always done the same things over & over when you & dh were in middle school but that may not be the case in the school your kid(s) end up in. We never did the samethings over & over, in fact we did in elementary school but not middle-high,lol.

Right now my middle dd is in Grade 3 & on dr's orders is not allowed to do everything due to her heart condition. She can participate in dance still unless she starts having problems there too, but not things like tag where they're moving around constantly. They only have gym for 15-20minutes. I didn't need a dr's note to get her on restricted gym, we do have the letters from the cardiologist to our regular dr on file JIC we need to take her in.

Out of 240ish kids K-6 she is the ONLY child on restricted gym.
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#21 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:23 PM
 
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The only way I know that kids can get out of PE around here in middle and high school is by getting a "waiver". To qualify for a waiver, the student has to be on a competitive level sports team with practice of at least 10 hours per week.

In high school if your kids are on a sports team or in our district, marching band, these also qualify for PE credit. Here, we need two years of PE to graduate. So, for example, if you play a spring sport every year, second semester, it would count as 2 total years (4 semesters).
That is the way it was at my school. I was in Marching band and and I didn't have to take gym.

We had to take it in Jr High, I didn't notice any issues with bullying or humiliation in gym.

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#22 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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I don't think they usually let kids out of PE unless they have a serious physical condition--even if they're doing martial arts or swim or whatever outside of school.

Maybe if you were lucky enough to find a part-days or hybrid homeschool program.

We have a home learning program through a public charter which was started with the district by local families. We basically have to do some reporting (which doesn't seem that big of a deal) and our school district gives us an annual budget to spend and a resource consultant to help us along the way.

Since your little one is young and you have a lot of time to plan, maybe you could get in on the grass roots of something like that or work out an alternative.

**btw I had the same kind of experience you describe w/ gym in school, and since my DDs brief stint in Kindergarten last year at our (our very regular) school down the street, though they may have ditched the fat calipers (at least where I live) PE is still PE.

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#23 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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I have a colleague whose daughter needs to make up a PE credit for high school (apparently being on the dance team doesn't count as PE!). So she can take more elective courses (language, science), she's doing it online and will have the credits transfer in. I believe she's taking online jogging where essentially she has to log a certain amount of jogging each week and submit a report. (Though I have to say that I find the idea of an online jogging class very funny!) So, depending on where you live, it's certainly possible in high school.

That being said, in elementary school, I'd advocate for leaving your child in PE unless there are major issues. Ds is going into 3rd grade and he LOVES PE. He's NOT an athletic, team sports kind of kid either. In fact, he actively resists team sports. But PE is very different than when I was at school. There is a lot more focus on cooperative games and life fitness skills. They work in small groups, selected by the teacher. The groups rotate. There is no team selection. There is no weighing/measuring of kids publicly. (And I bet you could get your kid out of public weighing/measuring, if not PE.)

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#24 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 06:53 PM
 
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I don't know about waivers, but I have to throw in my 2 cents.

Walk unafraid into the future. You may be surprised at what experiences will be good and different that what you and other's have experienced. Lot' s of change will happen in the next 11 or so years!

Enjoy the now, let the future worry about itself!
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#25 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 07:03 PM
 
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I was removed in 8th grade due to a recurring knee injury, and a specialist who thought school PE classes were bad for your health. He would have continued to excuse me all the way through highschool, but my high school had an independant study PE option. I had to fill in a fitness log and have my mom sign it every semester and I earned credits for it.
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#26 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 09:20 PM
 
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I do know kids who "got out" of gym class, but it was always for specific medical reason, or to attend alternate classes in very unusual circumstances.

That said, I wouldn't worry about it until the time comes. Gym isn't necessarily going to be the same for your DD as it was for you. I know a couple of gym teachers who do lots of team building exercises, cooperative games, non-competitive health and fitness and who make a real effort to include and respect all skill levels, etc.

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#27 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 09:55 PM
 
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I hated PE, horrible.
It was boring and I was always "overweight", I trained very hard outside of school as I had hopes for the American Olympic weightlifting team, therefore I had lots of muscle and have always weighed a lot.

I managed to get around PE by taking band in middle school, JROTC in High School, and then Later in high school I took PE online. I took other classes online and it was awesome! So much easier, you can go as quick as you want and the teachers were always so helpful.

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#28 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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Honestly, I wouldn't even worry about it right now. Things have changed a lot and will continue you change, so you have no idea what gym classes will be like by the time your child is that age. And you never know, you child may want to take them and may actually enjoy them.
I would be more afraid of sending them messages as they get older that affect the way they view gym classes and things of that nature. I wouldn't want to influence my kids that way (if I can help it). Leave it be, let them make up their own minds, and cross that bridge when you come to it.
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#29 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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You may be surprised by the offerings that come down the road in the future. My dd is 15 and in 10th grade and has no interest whatsoever in competetive athletics. So this year she is taking "independent sports" (tennis, badminton, running, etc) one semester and fitness (ie: weight lifting) the other. My ds#2 is in an Experiential School so they do not have formal PE. They spend many days hiking, swimming, riding their bikes to the river, etc. Now my DS#1 is the only one who hates PE. He is the competetive athlete and in his middle school they do very few us vs. them sports.
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#30 of 41 Old 08-22-2009, 11:44 PM
 
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I'd follow your child's lead. One the most difficult things we parents who have suffered peer/school traumas have to do is to be vigilant about projecting our experiences onto our kids.

I hated PE until I got to middle school. This is probably because I was severely bullied until 7th grade. Once I didn't have to worry about people kicking the kickball into my stomach, tripping me, throwing things at me, or being shoved or mocked, I was able to enjoy the games more (I was a natural athlete in MS/HS).

The PE program at my kids' school is really fun. There's adequate supervision (at least at our school). They even do yoga and line dancing (maybe the older kids don't like that as much, but the 1st and 2nd graders seem to). While they don't do a lot of competative games, it's pretty interesting to see what they come up with. I've observed almost every gym class that my kid is in (last year gym was 2 days a week right before school let out, so since I'm always there early waiting to pick up, I got to observe the whole time). Our school has a lot of kids with disabilities at it, so the gym teachers seem to be better equipped than mine to come up with fun and clever things that can be done on a variety of levels without shaming people. They also even occasionally get to see exhibition stuff and then try it themselves (cup stacking and double dutch this year), which I thought was kind of cool.

I get the fear of your child having the same experience as you did, but I don't think you can proactively get a pass for gym class before your child is even school age, unless you've got a very special doctor (and most right now probably would not be friendly to doing that for you). You might need to re-evaluate every year on this one, as your kid is in school. If there's an actual problem, rather than a feared one, then that will be easier to use to get what you want.
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