expert advice MORE
Q: My five-year-old kindergartner is afraid of the school's gym room. She doesn't want to go to school on the days she has gym class. I've asked that she be able to sit in the gym and participate when she is ready. She says that the gym teacher always tries to get her to join in, even when she is not ready. What else can I do?
A: Gym teachers don't like to see children sitting and not participating. The gym teacher sees the activities as enjoyable and most likely believes that once your daughter joins in, she will see how much fun it is.
Ask for a conference with your daughter's teacher, the gym teacher, and the school counselor. Explain what you are seeing with your daughter and what she has told you about being afraid. Work out a plan with the three staff members as to what will happen on gym days.
Perhaps the classroom teacher or the counselor could sit with your daughter on the sidelines for the first ten minutes of gym time until she is comfortable, and then your daughter could join the class. Perhaps the gym teacher could meet with your daughter and the counselor and explain what happens in gym class and why most children believe it is fun.
Whatever the three of you work out, reassure your daughter that the adults understand her feelings and want to help her feel happy about going to gym class. With some patience and understanding, your daughter should get over this fear fairly quickly.
More on: Expert Advice
Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.