A young girl moves fluidly on a balance beam – her intense concentration as she completes her required movements readily apparent on her face. Across the room another child somersaults explosively over a vault – he’s wearing a huge grin when his coach applauds his perfect landing.
Is this an intense gymnastics meet or an Olympic event? No. This is the physical education program at The Mandelstam School where “gym” for every student consists of over an hour of physical activity every day.
Physical education in schools, or the lack thereof, has become a political hot button issue. The American Heart Association recommends that all children receive AT LEAST 60 minutes of moderate – vigorous intensity physical activity every day. Budgetary constraints force many schools to offer only 30 minutes or less of physical activity in the form of a recess, while some don’t have the resources to offer a daily physical education program at all. At a time when most schools are focusing on Common Core standards and suspending ancillary subjects like art, music and physical education The Mandelstam School has done just the opposite: choosing to create a school wide curriculum that holds physical education, specifically gymnastics, as the foundation for its challenging academics and arts focused program.
“Because of the size of the School and its original curriculum, we are able to distinguish ourselves from the other schools in the area, and thereby provide the best that Miami offers.” says the school founder, Rod Mandelstam.
“My daughter is not a gymnast, she’ll never be a gymnast” says a parent. “But the gymnastics program teaches more than just gymnastics – it teaches discipline and self worth. It’s amazing.”
Parents agree – as the school has seen its enrollment rise steadily over the past 5 years. The word is out and South Florida families are clamoring for a chance to be a part of a school unafraid of challenging the status quo.
The Mandelstam School is a private elementary school on SW 57 Ave., where physical education is utilized as the foundation for learning in a creative, academically focused environment. All children from Junior Kindergarten through 5th grade receive over an hour of vigorous physical activity daily as part of a unique, comprehensive physical education program.
For more information, visit online at TheMandelstamSchool.org.