You cannot start early enough to make a child into an Olympian. Just to let you know, we teachers are doing what we can. Although it is done in combination with other school activity and studies, we have built in some gentle, but continuous cross and endurance training.
Swim teams can rest assured that our children are used to being in water. They begin very harmlessly, just learning how to drink hunched over a water fountain with feet dangling six inches over the floor. This builds strong-arm muscles and gets them used to having their faces covered in water. We then add another layer, which is cleverly disguised as hand washing. This gets them ready for holding their arms out in front of them while diving. When they are able to sing the entire A-B-C song while soaping and rinsing, they move to the next level. Since children in first and second grade don’t always take to being squirted in the face by a super soaker, training becomes more individualized and integrated into out of school activities. It cuts down lawsuits, as well. Until they can take having a water balloon burst in their hands and onto their clothes without crying, no such training should be initiated.
Some students show specific talent for diving. You can see them in the classroom reaching down through piles of trash, looking for something they saw in there that the teacher threw out. They show great flexibility also, springing off the chairs, stages, risers, or classmates who chose that unfortunate time to take a little breather and sit on the steps. We give them an annual reminder to yell, “DUCK!“ before leaping, of course.
Track stars have a couple Olympic-friendly talents. One is they learn to tell time quickly and keep track of its elapse even more skillfully, and secondly they can clear any hurdle, beat any last minute direction and make it out of the room, down the hall and out the door before the last aural remnants of the dismissal bell are gone.
From the time they are little, until they are five years more than little, children leap up to touch overhangs, banners, doorstops, posted signs and doorways. By the time they reach 6th grade, most can do it and were it not for our great custodial staff, we’d have the years of wall plaque to prove it. Adding recycling bins has been of real benefit to the basketball dream teams to be, as well. They now have three different heights and widths to aim for. If you are observant, you’ll see them start with scraps from their snacks or a party or something and develop year-by-year into paper tossers, unwanted art project projectors, corrected homework chuckers and eventually someone else’s P.E. shoe flingers. Nothin’ but net. U-S-A! U-S-A!
There is so much more to teaching than meets the eyes. We are providing opportunities for children to find the Olympian within and then nurturing it by ignoring the otherwise unacceptable behaviors. Now, if we could just make school “LZR” suits like the swim team got, we could do it even faster. So to the little Michael Phelps or Shawn Johnson kindergartners out there…
We’re ready for you.