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Handy hints

PE avoiders

Some primary children seem anxious to avoid PE. Typically, they always forget their kit. How can you help?

* Try, from observation, parent consultation or careful conversation, to find the problem. It may be shame - about body shape, level of maturity or weight, or about inadequate or dirty underwear. Or the family may, for example, be unable to afford the kit. Perhaps they're just too disorganised and always leave their kit at home.

* If it's a body image problem, avoid activities that make the child look clumsy. Never, by hint or your own body language, reinforce the prejudices of classmates. Look for strengths. Give praise and enouragement.

* Unisex changing in the classroom, still common in many primary schools without changing rooms, is understandably a trial for some older juniors. Listen to children and parents who are concerned, and be prepared to let individuals change privately, perhaps in the cloakroom or toilet.

* Help disorganised children. Remind them as they go home, and write on the blackboard, at the end of the day, "PE kit tomorrow". Put notes in lunchboxes (better than pockets - more likely to be seen by parents).

* Keep a store of basic kit with your existing supply of emergency clothing.

Gerald Haigh Next week: returning after absence

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