The tag line: “New Concepts of PE and sports programs are making it more fun for everyone to play” caught my eye in the Fall 2011 issue of Teaching Tolerance, a publication of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I found the article “Game Changer” encouraging, for it shares stories about schools that are finding kinder and more creative ways to inspire children to move each day. The article talks about the ways in which “inclusive PE” can make PE class more welcoming for all kids, with the goal of preparing children to lead healthy lifestyles.While the proponents of inclusive PE support sports and competition, they see the mission and goals of athletics as distinct from those of inclusive physical education, where “knowledge, effort and development should take priority over performance.” One of the ways successful programs have made PE more welcoming for kids is to “personalize the curriculum.”
Thus, we were delighted to learn that Vistamar School, where Natalie goes to high school, also believes that PE options should be broad enough to include everyone. That means students can choose from a wide array of activities and schedules: after-school team or club sports (soccer, track and field, touch football, baseball, volleyball), after-school yoga or cardio fitness classes, before-school fencing class, or outside activities. One boy is a tae kwon do champion, while another girl pursues horseback riding. Natalie is choosing to pursue what she calls “Variety PE.” Her after-school fitness activities include a dance class once a week, yoga class once a week, and either a walk or bike ride three times each week. She keeps a fitness log, which she turns in to the Fitness Coach at the end of each trimester.
Natalie says, “I like the variety. It keeps it fun and interesting. I get to explore staying healthy and doing fitness in lots of different ways, so that it doesn’t feel like PE but simply having fun.”
When you read Two in the Middle, you’ll see how Natalie and I found new ways to think of PE, so that we could look forward to our fitness activity each day. Simply changing the name from PE (Physical Education) to PF (Physical Fun) made a big difference. It makes sense. After all, we are much more likely to do what we have fun doing.