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Ask an Expert: How to spice up PE offerings

EdNews Parent expert Chris Strater responds:

Q. I feel very strongly about helping children be more active in and out of school. As a parent volunteer, what can I do to spice up the PE offerings at my child’s school?

A. Many physical education teachers do teambuilding and cooperative games or activities in their PE classes as ways to not only get kids moving, but help them learn ways to interact in a positive way with each other. Talk with your child’s PE teacher concerning teambuilding activities that they may incorporate into their teaching. If you are looking for teambuilding activities, check out Karl Rohnke. Rohnke is known as the guru of adventure education. His books Cowstails and Cobras and Silver Bullets are a wonderful source for cooperative games.

Teambuilding activities provide children with a vehicle to assist them in many of life lessons, such as how to work together with others and how to cooperatively and productively solve problems while experiencing their own strengths and areas for growth. Children find these activities fun and challenging. This type of critical thinking helps develop young brains and build on their problem-solving skills.

The Denver metro area offers many adventure and/or team building courses that are available to schools, families and outside groups. Mountain Ranch and A Wanderlust Adventure are but two examples. In addition, REI, Thrillseekers and Rock’n and Jam’n are facilities that offer indoor climbing to individuals and groups, including school groups. Outward Bound is a nationally recognized program for experiential education. As a parent, you could help coordinate an outing for students – or find ways to bring a program to your school.

After talking with your child’s PE teacher, attend your school’s PTO meetings. This would be a good sounding board for discussions involving teambuilding and cooperative games. Many playgrounds are now being installed with these types of activities in mind. Start the conversation in your school and watch the student’s problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills grow through these types of fun activities.

Challenge courses installed at schools are another option, but they can be very expensive and difficult to put into a school setting due to structural demands. Don’t let that deter you from your quest to enrich your school’s PE curriculum.

Good luck.

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