Physical Education - What to do from K to 2
Updated: Aug 21
Have you ever given an instruction to a student under the age of 7 and they look at you like you’ve just landed from outer space? Have you ever been in class with a group of 25 K – 2 students all simultaneously pulling on your pants to tell you the most important thing in the world – the name of their favourite dinosaur? Have you ever been in a P.E. class with 25 students crying because “so and so” tagged them and they didn’t want to get tagged? Fear not. If this has happened to you, you’re not the only one. In fact, there are thousands of teachers out there experiencing this probably as you read.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching “the littles ones” in Physical Education, but they are a different breed to any other age group and in some ways like herding cats.
Young children are not only growing physically during early childhood, but they are also growing mentally. Students at this age continue to advance their skills in observing and interacting with the world around them. In short, there is a lot going on in their little minds. As children develop cognitively, their play will move more towards games with sophisticated rules which brings in the importance of fundamental movement skills. According to research, playing isn’t just fun; it is an important part of brain development. ENTER PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER.
The cornerstone of my P.E. program revolves around the 11 more significant fundamental movement skills associated in Grade K – 2. They are: kick, run, bounce, leap, 2 hand strike, catch, dodge, forehand strike, throw, punt and vertical jump.
If you’re not familiar with the term fundamental movement skills, these are one of the steppingstones of physical literacy. They empower students to engage in a variety of physical activities and provide the foundation for more complex, activity-specific skills.
If you can teach a student to kick, they might be more inclined to take part in soccer. If you can teach a student to throw, they might grow up to play baseball. These skills are the beginning to their motivation to be a lifelong physical learner.
Like anything with early childhood students, these skills need to be visual in the learning space. Students will learn best if they can see and know exactly what it is they need to accomplish. As part of my lessons, I use the “I CAN” posters which outline the skills that need to be mastered for each fundamental motor movement.
Before getting to this point though, it is important as a teacher that you model the skill they will be working on. Providing the visual example, especially if being used in a game is crucial. The next step is for students to have a go at the skill. Without giving them an overwhelming amount of information, set them out to explore the skill. It is during this time as a teacher that you have two choices:
A) bring the class back together and break it down or B) coach students through the skill as they are exploring it
You will know your class best based on what is happening in your particular lesson.
With all these keys in mind, the next step is to practise the skill. Set goals with your students and provide timely feedback which will guide their journey towards success.
The kindergarten to grade 2 teaching journey is an exciting one and if you have read this far, chances are you are on this journey. I always say to my colleagues who get frustrated with kids this age crying to “embrace the tears.” The tears are a teaching point and teaching points look different in the P.E. space as opposed to the classroom space.
Hopefully some points in here resonate and become useful in your teachings to this age group. Thanks for reading and good luck educating the young physical minds and bodies of the future!