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Teaching the fundamentals of sports

Posted: November 10, 2008 8:43 p.m.
Updated: November 11, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Wesley Stiller, front, a fifth-grader at Peachland Elementary School, does sit-ups while classmates behind him do some stretching as part of the school's non-competitive Sports Play and Active Recreation for Kids program.

 

Peachland Elementary School strives to "spark" students' interest in sports and outdoor activities.

The school's non-competitive Sports Play and Active Recreation for Kids program, SPARK, teaches students the fundamentals of sports like basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, hurdles, and others.

"I like running the laps," said fifth-grader Wesley Stiller. "Sometimes we run a mile and I learn to not give up when I'm tired. I'm involved in soccer so it helps me."

Taught by work-study students from The Master's College, SPARK also provides "down time" for teachers to collaborate.

"I'm learning I can build endurance, muscle strength, and stuff like that," said fifth grader Jack McKeon.

"I've played football so I run a lot; (SPARK) prepares me to get faster and endure the running. I wish it would be every day."

Master's College students Mike Crawford, Jennifer McNett and Janelle Henson each coach 45-minute physical education classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seven different grade levels.

"The purpose of the program is to get the kids physically active and show them that we as an institution believe in physical education," said Peachland Principal Sarah Johnson. "We want them to get outside and develop a love of the outdoors and experience what an activity can do for them both physically and mentally."

The coaches teach students hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and teamwork to prepare them to participate in competitive sports teams outside of school.

"We teach them how to play cooperatively and how to be active and healthy through sports," Henson said.

"Right now I'm teaching them softball. Today we worked on pickle, where you pass from base to base and you have to run to get points. It's a basic step that will happen when you're stealing bases. We have to take it apart so they can learn all the steps before we play altogether."

Along with playing sports, students learn the importance of doing warm-ups before performing.

"We're doing cardiovascular work and teaching them how to stretch out properly," Crawford said. "We're also teaching them the importance of being hydrated and staying away from harmful substances and performance-enhancing drugs. We're teaching them to condition their bodies now to prepare themselves for the upcoming years, because this is a really essential age for them."

Each class is composed of one grade level with more than 35 participating students.

"A lot of them had no idea what push-ups, sit-ups, any of that were," McNett said. "When we started doing them as a group they really started getting it. We've also been able to do more running and play the games better, so that's pretty exciting."

SPARK is a good transition from traditional elementary school recess sessions to a more learning-conducive P.E. program.

"Initially they were so used to having free time, free choice (at recess) that they were like, ‘Man, P.E. is not much fun,'" Johnson said. "But now they're realizing, ‘Wow, I'm actually learning a skill!' I think it's important that we get the children outside, so they learn how important it is to be fit and healthy."

"The kids will run up to me and tell me that they love doing P.E. and it's their favorite subject," McNett said.

"One of the most rewarding things is seeing the kids at the end of the class," Crawford said. "They're worn out but you can tell they had a great time."

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