Remember the existential dread of gym class? Children good at sports love gym class, but just the thought of going could be en energy drain for non-athletes.
Nearly every youngster can learn to ride a pogo stick or spin a plate. They are just a few of the fitness activities that enlivened physical education classes recently at a school in Westchester.
Third- to fifth-grade students and their gym teachers at F.E. Bellows Elementary School in Rye Neck also learned diabolo manipulation, devil sticks, Chinese yo-yo, clowning and stilt-walking from circus performers of O-Town Circus Academy. Last month's program was supported by the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association.
The program's aim: to improve kids' self-esteem and confidence. Equally beneficial is enhancing the ability of children to collaborate with peers, according to school officials.
“It takes the students out of their comfort zones as many of the activities start off difficult, but at the same time, they are a fun challenge that the students get excited about and try to conquer," said P.E. teacher Bryan Iacovelli.
While the three grades got to learn circus tricks in workshops during the week, the fourth-grade pupils got the chance to perform their new skills for an audience of parents, teachers, and classmates at the end of the program.
"It’s a lot of fun to see a student, who may initially struggle with any activity, show tons of excitement when they finally get it right and master the skill," said Iacovelli, who oversaw the program along with fellow teacher Kristin Desio.
“The fourth-grade performance is something the students look forward to and get excited about. We hope it will be a fun memory of their time at Bellows and their entire experience at Rye Neck," Iacovelli said.