Physical education plays an important role in the development of fundamental motor skills
There are many benefits of physical education. It teaches students sportsmanship and teamwork, provides health benefits and reduces the risk of becoming overweight. But the most important benefit of physical education is that it provides students with the fundamental motor skills they need to live a healthy and active life.
Why do students need fundamental motor skills?
Motor skill competency is essential for participation in physical activity. When students aren't comfortable performing the basic motor skills (running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking, etc) they find all types of physical activity challenging and embarrassing.
These students are worried they'll miss a ball that's thrown to them or fall over in a game of tag. Nobody wants them on their team. For these students, the opportunity to feel the enjoyment of successful movement is denied. Their inadequacy is very public and subsequently humiliating – this is much worse than the experience of the child who is yet to master math or reading. Their inadequacy is more easily concealed in a classroom.
Traditional “one-size-fits-all” physical education is an ineffective way to teach motor skill development
For years, teachers have been using a "one-size-fits-all" approach that tries to teach everyone the same thing, at the same time, in the same way without considering that every student is unique. They learn at a different rate, have different strengths/weaknesses and are interested in different things.
In a “one-size-fits-all” class each student's differences in skill level, experiences and interests are ignored. As a result, only a few students are being taught material that matches their skill level. The majority of the class falls into two camps:
- The less skilled students are struggling to keep up. They find the material too challenging. They feel alienated and are likely to experience embarrassment.
- The more skilled students are not being challenged. They are being held back from reaching their potential and are bored.
Physical education should be personalized for each student
It’s time to change the way PE is taught. One size does NOT fit all. Physical education should be personalized to match each child's needs.
A personalized physical education program allows each student to:
- Learn at their own pace. Students learn at different speeds, have different experiences and levels of knowledge. Each student should experience lessons that are developmentally appropriate for them.
- Create a learning plan and goals based on their interests. Students learn better when they can explore topics based on their interests rather than a rigid curriculum.
- Take ownership of their own learning. Personalized learning changes the role of the teacher to that of a coach that can offer corrective feedback while also allowing students to learn and progress independently.