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Physical activity level and school choice

Choosing a school for a very physically active or less physically active child


When choosing a school for your child, a vital factor to consider is non-academic fit: what are your child’s most non-academic traits and how might these inform your school search? Here, we’ll discuss one non-academic trait—physical activity level—and what role it might play in choosing a school for your child.

To learn about how to choose the right school in general, read the Our Kids’ step-by-step advice guide and our expert tips. To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account and read our seven ways to choose a school based on your child's needs (i.e., overall fitmore academic challengesocial strugglesacademic strugglesintensive learning interestsuniversity preparation, and special needs.).  


Very physically active and less physically active kids' school fit

One important trait that can inform your choice of the right school is your child's physical activity level. Below, we discuss how very physically active and less physically active kids fit in several school types.

Very physically active kids are highly energetic. They like to move around a lot inside the classroom and out.

Very physically active kids’ school fit: key take-homes

  • Most big schools provide an especially broad scope of opportunities for your physically active child to use their energy in productive ways, such as through individual and team sports. Since some smaller schools have fewer supplementals, ensure a prospective school offers plenty of unstructured social time and after-school activities to fulfill your child’s need to be active.
  • While coed schools normally have plenty of physical activities, sometimes they have gender-stereotypical segregation in activity selection—for instance, more boys may participate in sports than girls, and more girls may participate in dance than boys. 
  • Since they tend to cater to high-energy boys, most boys’ schools provide loads of time for your active son to channel his energy in productive ways. 
  • Since some Montessori schools don’t have recess, and may limit free play, make sure to look into the amount of unstructured social time a school provides. 
  • Since Reggio Emilia educators believe children learn best through social interaction, your child will be given lots of time to interact, play, and explore their environment with others.

To access far more detailed information about very physically active kids’ school fit, read our in-depth guide.

Less physically active kids are more sedentary. They tend to move around less in the classroom and out.

Less physically active kids’ school fit: key take-homes

  • If your child is looking to get more physically active, they’ll benefit from the wide range of extracurriculars at big schools—such as sports, outdoor field trips, and nature clubs. 
  • Smaller schools often have small and intimate classrooms, where your less active child can work independently and in small groups, allowing them to focus on academics in a structured and supportive environment. 
  • While coed schools normally provide myriad physical activities, they sometimes have gender-stereotypical segregation in the selection of activities (for instance, more boys may participate in sports than girls), which means some kids are less likely to participate. 
  • If you’re considering a boys’ school for your less active son, make sure it isn’t too focused on “high energy” boys: while physical activities like sports have benefits for everyone, your son may sometimes prefer to sit quietly and read a book or work on a project. 
  • At a Montessori school, your less active child will often work independently on their own tasks, e.g., during two-hour-plus uninterrupted work periods, where they can focus on their preferred tasks. 
  • Given the social and dynamic environment of the Reggio Emilia classroom, make sure your less active child will get enough time on their own, in class and out, to replenish their energy and psychological resources.

To access far more detailed information about less physically active kids’ school fit, read our in-depth guide.

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