We have recently developed a structured physical education programme to complement our classroom curriculum. This provides an opportunity for students to participate regularly and safely in physical activity and to learn important social and interpersonal skills, contributing to psychological well-being, physical capacity, and the ability to cope with stress. We feel that this is another way to improve concentration, better classroom behaviour and more focused learning. We also run a sports youth club for the secondary students on a Saturday afternoon.
The sports programme follows a strict structure and revolves around a set rotation of activities and games. The classes rotate every four weeks for the students in classes 4 to 9 (football, bucketball, volleyball and handball/dodgeball) and every three weeks for classes 1 to 3. There is an emphasis on structure because in the past the students have considered sports class to be an hour of playtime. We now use the same disciplinary traffic light system as classroom teachers to reiterate the fact that sports is as important as the other classes in our curriculum.
For the secondary and older primary students sports classes include a ten minute warm-up, a twenty minute practice drill and a half an hour team game. For example, during volleyball class we use a drill to develop technique for the game, which focuses on passes and ball control. At the same time, they must work together to earn points as a team which carry over into the game that follows. We find that this increases their sense of competition and motivates them to try harder and improve their skills.
For the younger children the focus is on more “playful” group games and physical and kinaesthetic activities. Classes include a warm up, games and a cool down activity which gives the children a chance to calm down before returning to the classroom. We vary the games each lesson to develop different cooperative skills and encourage them all to participate with respect for each other. For the cool down activities, we slow down the pace of play, with games such as slow-motion tag and ´mirrors´, where the children have to copy each other’s movements. This final activity is useful because it also encourages the children to use their imagination.
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