My son is a fifth grader.
School started yesterday, which means this will be Ryan’s last year at his elementary school and then it’s off to middle-school.
But I don’t want to rush ahead. We have 180 days of fifth grade to experience first. And like in years past, I’d like to share with you memories of my own fifth grade year. (To remind you, you can click here to read about my fourth grade experiences and click here to read about my life in third grade).
I had the same teacher for fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Ryan has had a new teacher each year. My elementary school went up to sixth grade, so unlike Ryan, at this stage I wasn’t yet looking ahead to middle school.
And though I was in fifth grade back in the 1980s, one thing remains the same. All fifth graders are still required to complete the fifth grade physical education fitness test.
Unlike Ryan’s school, my elementary school didn’t have a physical education teacher. When I was in elementary school, our classroom teachers took their classes out for P.E. once in a while, usually on Fridays, and usually as a reward for good behavior. We didn’t train and practice for this physical fitness test.
Luckily, Ryan’s school has a group of physical education coaches. They have been training for this test since kindergarten, slowly building up the endurance needed to run a mile.
And when it comes time for this test, I’ll give Ryan the same words of encouragement I always give him for any test: Do your best.
Because really, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter what you’re being tested on, that’s the only thing you can do.
4 thoughts on “5th Grade – The Home Stretch”
Wendy, your essay raises an interesting issue: society mandates and provides education in two domains of human being: the intellectual (development of the mind) and the physical (development of the body), but ignores a third and to my mind no less important aspect of human being — the ethical/spiritual.
John, you bring up an interesting point. But I must say, that in the classroom and now at home with Ryan, I am amazed by the questions and ideas that children bring up. A lot of it comes down to what is being taught, modeled, and discussed at home.
Interesting the emphasis placed on physical education these days. When I was in fifth grade (1969!) there was no such thing. We played kick ball on the playground at recess and that was about it. I agree to a degree with John – the difficulty is that everyone has their own idea of what ‘spiritual’ means and when spiritual becomes ‘religion’, wars are fought. I do believe that in this divisive world we are currently living in, that Personal History should be taught to elementary school children. Perhaps if children were given the assignment to trace the lines of their heritage, (and to include their family members in the process), they would find that ALL of us came from somewhere else (except the Native American Indians) and that we came here for the same reasons: to find a better life and/or to escape persecution in our native land. I believe that if we could open up these conversations with children, that we might be on a path to reducing the hate and the intolerance that we are seeing so much of, and that through them and the family research they do, the adults around them might be re-reminded of what America is supposed to stand for.
Diane, I love your idea. It gets tricky though to assign family history type projects, because so many children don’t know. So many children are not living with biological parents. However, it is so important to keep the conversation going, to start the conversation early, that America is a land for those from other lands. It has always been that way, and as you say, unless you are a Native American, we all do come from somewhere else. In past years at Ryan’s school, students have completed a family heritage type project in the fall, and it’s always been a wonderful celebration of diversity and serves to remind us of all the similarities we share as well.