“From the start of the school year, elementary school students will do 30 minutes of sport every day,” promised President Emmanuel Macron this week in Marseille. According to the government, thousands of schools have already responded to the invitation. But in practice it is not so simple.

Cédric Sortais, teacher of a CE2-CM1 class in a priority education district of Rennes, and Dominique Heude, teacher of a CM1 class and director of a private school in Orgères, near Rennes, were unable to reach, with activities in the gymnasium or in the swimming pool, the three hours of weekly sport already planned in the programs.

Both have therefore joined “Move your class”, a program inspired by a Scottish example and launched at the start of the 2021 school year by Stade Rennes, which multiplies actions to fight against sedentary lifestyles at all ages.

For this first year, the club selected 18 classes, which during the fall developed 15-minute sports sessions with activities around verbs (running, jumping, throwing, juggling, etc.).

And since January, the 18 teachers follow each week the program established by one of the classes. A common platform makes it possible to share images of the sessions, but also to receive a weekly video message of encouragement from a club player.

– “More energy to work” –

In Dominique Heude’s class, sport takes place at the very beginning of the day: the children put down their schoolbags in class and go out to run on the bumpy asphalt of the playground to warm up.

Then comes the activity. This morning: pick up. Divided up into teams, the children must take turns to collect studs scattered around the yard. A few quick stretches, and everyone will settle into class.

“After sport, we have more energy to work and for the rest of the day,” says Adam, 10.

“We are all ready at the same time, we did an activity together and we are leaving together for the day”, rejoices Dominique Heude.

In Cédric Sortais’ class, sport is placed at the beginning of the afternoon, when the children return, often very excited, from a long lunch break.

There, the warm-up is more elaborate, led by two injured students who also help set up the cones and hoops for the activity course. The verb: slalom.

At the end, Cédric Sortais takes the time to bring everyone together in a circle for a few minutes, eyes closed, before suggesting stretching.

– “Calm down” –

“I like it, it calms down,” says Josaphat, 8 years old. Stecia, 10, prefers spending time in class. But “if I don’t exercise, I can’t relax,” she notes.

“For children, it’s important to ritualize things. Like dictation, mental calculation, sport becomes a ritual”, explains Cédric Sortais.

The keys to success: motivated teachers, a simple program to apply with the means at hand and organized competition between the participants.

But for the two teachers, it is difficult to imagine generalizing the experience. For now, Stade Rennes wants to double the number of participating classes next year and is counting on the example given within each establishment.

In the school of Dominique Heude, several teachers are thus interested, just like the other pupils, who hear their comrades every morning. But the 15 minutes of “Bouge” or the 30 minutes of President Macron cannot “become an injunction”, he warns.

“We are going to come up against material conditions. I find it hard to imagine my ten classes in the morning all together on the playground, it would be a bit like North Korea”, notes the teacher. “But nothing is impossible. If the team is ready, we will organize ourselves”.