Teach to reach all children so all children will achieve.
I want to share with you some tips to practice movement activities in such a way that you can teach to reach all of the children in your group. The aim is that each child will be able to learn and practice activities to the “best of their abilities”.
Observe and consider these ability levels to teach to reach all
Physical maturity & participation
Some children develop physically faster than others. Children who are small or more slightly built are often a little less eager to explore movement and may struggle with balance and speed. Others, however, may be more physically mature, bigger, have physical stability and therefore the confidence to explore movement eagerly.
Emotional maturity & eagerness to learn
Shy children or children with low self-confidence are more likely to be a little nervous of new activities for fear of being the centre of attention. Whereas a child who has previously been exposed to movement, or who has confidence or an outgoing personality will be first in line to try something new.
Muscle strength & aptitude
Low muscle tone is fairly common today and is on the increase. This is often due to too little exposure to movement and prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour. Learning movement skills that require even a little body strength can be challenging for children with low muscle tone, especially if they need to do activities where body strength is necessary.
Concentration span & repetition
Concentration abilities vary from child to child. Children with short concentration spans cannot do many repetitions and need short breaks when doing focused activities. Children who can concentrate need to be challenged to perform better each time they do an activity to prevent them from getting bored and disengaged. However, the more enthusiastic, engaging and inspiring you are as a teacher or parent, the more excited children will be to move. Then the concentration span is not an issue.
2 methods to teach physical education to reach all skill levels
With all of these things to consider, adapting activities to suit each child’s needs takes a little thought, creativity and exploration. As teachers, we need an toolkit of methods to ensure we meet the needs of every child in the group and in doing so, each child will then develop both physically and emotionally. No easy task, but I hope the ideas below will inspire you to achieve this.
Create ability groups / Work with assistants
Once you become familiar with the physical competance and nature of your children you should be able to allocate them into different ability groups without bringing too much attention to the fact that you are doing this. By doing so the children all progress at a level they can manage.
I often create three groups when assistants are available. I make sure each teacher is prepared in advance and knows what to teach their group. Try to group the children in the following way:
- Children who have poor coordination or need more repetition and support
- Children who cope fairly well, but are not so fast or agile
- Children who are more physically mature, who are sporty and learn movement skills with ease.
Platform the teaching of activities
To teach children of different ability levels one needs to know how to break down an activity. Just as a child first sits, then shuffles, slides, crawls, stands and then walks, so it goes with teaching a skill level by level. Mastery can develop in the same way.
Once each level of an activity is achieved, adjust the challenge to reach the next level, and then to the next. The level of difficulty is increasing until the child masters the activity. Once the desired skill is achieved, variables can be added to increase the level of challenge.
Having the knowledge of how to do this for a wide variety of movement activities can be daunting at first. It just takes a little creative thinking and you will come up with the steps on your own to teach to reach every level.
6 tips to platform levels of difficulty for movement skills
Building from the basics is always the best way forward, no matter the skill or topic. This results in quality teaching. Your children will develop and progress in the correct way. If an activity has different components, break the activity down into sections. Make sure the children can do each component well before putting them together.
- If speed is involved, start slowly and then increase the speed at a manageable rate.
- If distance is an element, then rather start close and increase the distance as needed.
- If jumping from a height, start low to be safe, and increase the height as confidence builds.
- If force is required, have the children understand the result of too little or too much force first. With practice they will learn the required force for the activity they are practicing.
- If hopping is required, first be sure that the child can hop well.
- If an activity requires a child to jump from two feet to feet, be sure this can be done as an individual element before teaching the whole activity.
The more physical movement activities you teach, the more you come to know the ability levels of each of your children. Your awareness and adaptability to teach to reach all of the children in a methodical way will result in a satisfying learning experience. I encourage you to practice often with a joyful approach and to find creative variations as you teach to reach all. May you and your children enjoy the movement together as they become confident, coordinated and strong.
P.S.: I am happy to have a free call with you to discuss your movement needs. Whether it be about your curriculum goals, resources, equipment or just general class management for movement lessons. I will gladly assist however I can.
Please do consider one of the MoovKids curriculum solutions with hundreds of fun, inspiring games, activities and challenges for teaching the fundamental movement skills to early learners.