With all the uncertainty with the start of school and which instructional model we will use, I would like to address the issues I believe will be the most daunting for elementary physical education.
Three models have been highly discussed throughout states and national agencies:
- All Virtual Learning
- Hybrid with part virtual and part on campus with limited students
- In-person traditional instruction with emphasis on social distancing
For all of you that have spent time on an elementary campus, can you imagine the steps that need to take place to promote and practice social distancing? One of my morning duties on campus is safety patrol with student helpers. The patrol members help open car doors and greet parents and students as they enter the school. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t receive multiple high fives and fist bumps from students exiting their cars and entering the building. It would be hard for me as an adult to resist these interactions, so you can imagine the difficulty for our students when seeing their teachers and classmates again after this extended break.
When we transition into the gym, our first priority has to be how we can make it the safest environment necessary. SHAPE America posted an in depth look at school reentry considerations. The physical environment section details guidelines for the use of equipment and how to safely use and sanitize the equipment. I know that this will require additional planning on my part, but it will also entail trying to teach eager elementary students a whole new version of physical education.
Dr. Pangrazi and Gopher just created and released a new program for the fall called My PE Pack. The program offers various personal equipment packs, but my personal favorite is the Movement and Games pack. This pack includes a ClassicCoat ball, flying disc, juggling scarves, jump rope, bean bag, sidewalk chalk, stacking sports cups, and a mesh storage bag to hold it all.
I’ve written several blogs related to the products in this pack and linked them below:
The amount of activities that can be taught with this pack are endless, but for this post I’d like to focus on the sports cups and the benefits of sport stacking for your students.
Why should you incorporate cup stacking into your program? Most importantly in this time of COVID-19 and the new normal, it can be played by an individual using various patterns racing against the clock. There is no setup and minimal space is required. The activity can be played in any setting with social distancing and the cleaning of the cups would only take a matter of minutes. The physical benefits of cup stacking or sport stacking include:
- Hand/Eye Coordination: improves reaction time by up to 30%.
- Ambidexterity: requires equal use of right and left hands.
- Bilateral Proficiency: engages both sides of the brain to develop both creative and problem-solving skills.
- Concentration: improves focus and attention span.
- Self-esteem: gives everyone, regardless of athletic ability, a chance to succeed.
With these trying times and parental concerns, what better way to try and ease fears than by using individual packs? I want my students to experience as much of the “normal” as possible and utilizing personal equipment packs will allow my students to find familiarity in our activities while staying safe.
As we embrace change and what the new year holds, lets focus on the resources that SHAPE America has provided for reentry and embrace ideas like Dr. Pangrazi’s to help keep physical activity in the forefront.