At Bright School, we take P.E. seriously. We think it’s important for children to be physically active every day, and we believe the research that shows exercise and play help the brain as much as the body.
That’s why students in grades kindergarten through fifth have P.E. class every day. Pre-kindergarten students come to P.E. every three days, and junior pre-kindergarten has P.E. every six days. All grades have daily recess. Across the U.S., only 3 percent of elementary students have daily P.E.
Coaches Jan Connell and Jeff McDaniel ensure Bright School P.E. is fun as well as active. McDaniel started teaching P.E. in 2015 after his two sons, Brayden and Cohen, began school here. He also coaches cross country and track for grades 3-5. “I want the children to learn from me that it’s important to move and be active their entire lives and for them to find joy in being active whether they are riding bikes, swimming or running,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel teaches the junior pre-k classes, where he focuses on familiarizing our youngest students with P.E. He begins slowly by teaching them to respond to what he asks them to do and to follow simple directions. Then, he works on basic coordination skills like hopping forward and backward and side to side. The children also work on exercises moving across their bodies like touching the left knee with the right hand as these correlate to brain development.
P.E. classes usually have a theme each week, and some are quite elaborate and have become school traditions like free-running, the Wilderness Trail across the U.S. and Miss Bright’s Haunted House of Fitness. McDaniel appreciates the freedom he has as a coach and teacher to support the needs of each child. “We all bring something different and have the autonomy to be who we are,” McDaniel said. “That’s hard to find anywhere else.”