4.9.18: Making Phys Ed Inclusive for All Students
Not every student has fond memories of their physical education (PE) lessons. Whether it’s group complaints or not being able to do their favorite sport, a variety of things can deter students from participating. But the benefits team sports and exercise are vast; they develop key skills such as communication, are vital for tackling obesity and inactivity, and improve mental wellbeing.
So how can we make sure all students feel PE is for them?
If you are a PE coach, you may have had students with disabilities in your class. In many instances, you may be not be aware of which students have a disability because the disability doesn’t affect their participation in your class. Other times you are well aware of those students and are looking for better ways to keep them challenged, and they end up having a successful and fun experience in your class. Inclusive PE is the term used for a General Education (Gen Ed) physical education class in which ALL students are included. Inclusive PE involves placing students alongside their peers with support and proper accommodations to help make everyone successful.
Inclusive PE has benefits for all students. Students with disabilities gain valuable social skills when working and playing in the gym class environment. All students learn appropriate behavior from a variety of their peers whether they are disabled or not. Students with disabilities have more opportunities to participate in age-appropriate physical activities and relationships with all of the their peers. Oftentimes, higher expectations lead children with disabilities to achieve more, gain confidence, and develop a stronger sense of self. All evidence points to a win-win situation for all students.
A PE teacher’s objective is to help students reach their full potential. An inclusive environment will help them get there. Be emphasizing respect, acceptance and cooperation as core values in class, you will create an environment that recognizes the value of differences and helps everyone focus on what they can do. The following strategies from Spark PE can help PE teachers build a more inclusive environment:
- Talk to your class about inclusion Have a conversation about expectations and etiquette. Students will have questions and concerns, so give everyone an opportunity for discussion. Help them to understand that all people have needs and rights and that everyone is different.
- Use People First language by putting the individual first and the disability second you are helping to create mutual respect. (E.g. My student with autism as opposed to An autistic student.)
- Get to know your students Find out about their abilities, strengths and challenges, rather than making assumptions based on their disability. Find out about their learning needs and which specific strategies work for them.
- Consult with specialists Specialists such as PTs, OTs, APE teachers, speech and language therapists, and others with more experience or education regarding working with students with disabilities can be a very effective resource.
- Engage your students when adapting activities Help them see that there are many ways to adapt to help them be successful. Guide them so that eventually they will know best how to adapt for themselves.
- Adapting rules and instructions If students are having difficulty following rules, simplify so there are fewer rules to remember. Make instructions clear and add resources where needed (e.g. white board, demonstrations, minimize background noise, etc.)
- Modify activities Sometimes students will need modifications and sometimes they wont. It will depend on the student and the activity/skill/game being taught. Dont assume that if a student has a disability they will always need things to be modified.
Students of all levels and abilities benefit from movement breaks. Flashfit is an inclusive web-based and mobile app used by hundreds of K-12 schools to provide their students with much-needed movement along with a dose of fun and healthy competition. To get your school started, Flashfit is offering a special rate of $199 for the 2018-19 school year including unlimited use of the entire school, staff and families.
Flashfit is easy to set up, easy to deploy, and we provide your school with tools and resources to implement an engaging and effective program. Oh, and it’s a blast for students, staff and parents.
Flashfit is an easy, fun-to-use app providing aerobic and strength-building exercises in one-minute bursts. Your school can build teams and groups, compete and gamify to increase student engagement and reward participation. No special equipment needed – kids can move their bodies anywhere. #jointhemob
Spark PE, The Guardian