SHAPE America’s National Physical Education & Sport Week (May 1-7) is a celebration of the importance of physical education and sport in the lives of kids of all ages. The week also serves as the kickoff to National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
Every May, we celebrate physical educators and coaches — the “champions” who help kids gain the confidence, competence, and motivation to be physically active in school, before and after school, and for the rest of their lives. From these teachers and coaches, students learn just how important physical activity is for physical, mental, and social-emotional health.
Here are five ways to celebrate physical activity during National PE & Sport Week and every week — and all year round:
1. Help ALL Kids Develop Fundamental and Foundational Motor Skills
To expand “Motor Skills Monday” beyond National PE & Sport week, think of ways to include activities, games and creative opportunities to increase motor skill ability throughout the year.
- Download SHAPE America’s Activity Calendars each month and have your students complete the physical activities that build motor skills.
- Implement games into warmups and lessons that foster and complement the development of motor skills. Include foundational skills (e.g., squatting, swimming, biking) in your PE program.
- Include at least three motor skills and one foundational movement skill every Motor Skill Monday (every day is even better!)
Motor skills are generally placed into three categories (locomotor, object control, and stabilization/body control).
Locomotor skills are the fundamental motor skills we most often associate with successful movement, especially in sports. Locomotor fundamental motor skills include:
Object control skills help us not only manage our bodies in space and in motion but also manage how our bodies connect with external objects, such as balls, bats, clubs, racquets, etc. Some of the object control fundamental motor skills are:
Stabilization or body awareness skills focus on our ability to demonstrate that we can control our body movements in motion. Body awareness fundamental motor skills include:
- Static and dynamic balancing
Foundational movement skills include not only fundamental motor skills but skills foundational to movement across the lifespan such as:
- Treading water
You can pick and choose motor skills to complement foundational skills and physical activities each day. Be creative and include them in games and movement challenges. Once students start to feel confident in their ability to perform a motor skill, start building on the motor skill by adding to it. An example of this is to run, then add kicking a ball, or skip and then lunge.
2. Start a Multisport Camp at Your School
When teaching and coaching youngsters the rules, tactics and strategies of sports, the focus especially during the early years is to help them learn a variety of sports (sports sampling) and encourage multisport participation. A multisport camp can build on the development of fundamental and developmental motor skills by giving kids the opportunity to learn a variety of motor skills in the context that multiple sports provide.
- Instead of hosting a single-sport camp, run a camp that focuses on skills used across sports, such as running, throwing, kicking, decelerating, and landing. Show how these skills are developed across sport.
- Have progressions and regressions of specific movements available within the teaching and coaching mode to facilitate development (e.g., include a variety of shapes and sizes of balls, swing a variety of implements).
- Combine sports that have complementary strategies but that develop different motor skills. An example of this is to combine locomotor running skills for quickness and agility as seen in tennis and soccer. Be mindful that soccer is lower-body dominant for object control and tennis is upper-body dominant, so including eye-foot and eye-hand coordination helps to develop skills across sports.
3. Sponsor a Sports Extravaganza for the Community
Once your multisport camps have been running awhile, it’s time to showcase all the new skills learned in a community extravaganza. Think Field Day Friday Showcase!
- Have students demonstrate the skills they are learning and the sports/activities they can apply those skills to. Add teamwork, sportsmanship and inclusion. Make it fun, with just enough competition to keep the challenge.
- Share the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) American Development Model (ADM), which offers guidelines to help individuals use sport as a path toward an active and healthy lifestyle. In Stage 1 of this model (for ages 0-12), the emphasis is on discovering key concepts and motor skills of a variety of sports. This is an essential stage that provides the building blocks for the following stages. The next seven stages include general skill development, athleticism, and enjoyment of sport, leading to continued participation throughout the lifespan (either in recreational sport or following the elite performance pathway).
4. Host a PE & Sport Book Club
So many life lessons are taught through sport, why not share stories of these lessons with a school book club?
- Include books in different categories such as leadership, goal setting, peak performance, physical activity, and evidence-based practice.
- Open the club to all students and faculty/staff. Encourage writing prompts to address the topics of the book club and seek solution-based thoughts on specific topics, such as increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in sport and physical activity.
5. Include Strengthening Exercises in Your Classes and Practices
Increase the connection between confidence and competence and lifetime physical activity by providing opportunities for youth of all ages to increase their strength.
- Use a variety of methods such as bands, kettlebells, suspension trainers, dumbbells, assistance, and bodyweight.
- Set up your program to meet the level of each student so they can grow and develop at their pace. Here is a sample fun beginner circuit (listed as a regression/primary exercise/progression). Start with 10 times for each exercise:
- Bodyweight squat/goblet squat/staggered stance squat
- Jump up and down/jump to a small box or step/jump as high as you can
- Push-ups against wall/push-ups on floor/alternating hands push-ups
- Jog in place/jog in place with high knees/jog in place with quick feet
- Plank/birddog/plank up-downs
- Lunge/lunge with toe touch/curtsy lunge
- Jumping jacks/split jacks/jacks with cross country ski arms
- Throw med ball underhand/throw med ball overhand/throw med ball overhead
- Make up your own movement sequence
- Create challenges with a variety of implements or include a strength station in a game or relay.
These are just a few of the ways to promote physical activity all year long — not just during National PE & Sport Week. I invite you to also develop and share your own ideas!
Rick Howard, DSc, CSCS *D, RSCC *E, FNSCA, is an assistant professor of applied sports science, as well as sports performance coordinator and coaching minor advisor at West Chester University (PA). Howard has taught K-8 health and physical education, coached middle school sports, and coached strength and conditioning for middle school, high school, and college.