Why Some Kids Like PE Less As They Get Older

 
This month is National Fitness and Sports month, but for many school-aged kids, fitness and sports as dictated by mandatory physical education class can go from fun and games to a waking nightmare as the years go on.
 
Kevin Mercier, assistant professor of physical education at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., recently conducted a longitudinal study of students’ attitudes toward physical education, from grades 4 through 8, to find out when their attitudes shifted and why. 
 
Students with a positive attitude are more likely to be active, but around the 6th grade, attitudes start to decline. He found that the decline in positive attitudes about PE were sharper for girls than for boys in middle school.
 
As to why the attitudes decline, he says it’s the teacher and the curriculum that contribute to changes students' attitudes, as well as the perceived usefulness and importance of the class. 
 
"A shift often occurs in middle school PE from a focus of skill development and group play to competitive team sports, leading students to be labeled as ‘athletes,’ or ‘non-athletes’” says Mercier. "Team sports in PE class puts everyone’s athletic ability on display, which can make students who don’t consider themselves athletes self-conscious."
 
Mercier recommends a focus on fitness activities and further skill development to encourage all students to remain physically active throughout life. 
 
 

Source Contact Information

Institution:
Adelphi University
Title:
Assistant Professor of Physical Education
Email:
kmercier@adelphi.edu
Phone:
516-877-4269