Written by Chesa Corsiatto, School Health Facilitator, Ever Active Schools
As an educator, you’re part of numerous aspects of your student’s development. It’s a big job, and at times it can seem overwhelming. Focusing on your strengths as an individual and as an educator is often comfortable and safe.
This is okay. Actually, it’s great! We should all lean into our strengths in our professional and personal lives – share your passions and interests with your students. But, we shouldn’t shy away from our weaknesses – perceived, realistic or otherwise. I’m here to tell you from my own personal experience that you don’t have to be an athlete or a Physical Education specialist to inspire a love of movement in your students!
I was never the talented, coordinated, sporty kid. I was clumsy and awkward. I have entire photo albums to prove it. To this day, members of my family remind me about the time I missed a wide-open net at a soccer game while everyone was there watching. I was mortified at the time, but I can laugh about it now.
If it had been up to me, I probably would have spent my childhood in my room, nose buried in a book. Regardless, here I stand: an active adult working in the health and wellness world, encouraging people to move! I’m working with teachers and school administrators to create movement-positive cultures within their schools! I’m teaching yoga!
So, what happened? Was I genetically mutated or brainwashed? No.
I credit my home and school environments for instilling in me a love of movement and physical activity. Throughout my childhood, I was provided with ample opportunity to play, move, get outside, develop fundamental movement skills, have fun and take risks. The adults in my life encouraged me to engage in a variety of activities, and they allowed me room to explore what I enjoyed most. My parents and teachers strived to create a supportive environment where I could try and fail. When I was challenged, I was prompted to see these experiences as opportunity for growth.
Here are my top five tips to help inspire a love of movement and physical activity in your students:
1. PLAY & HAVE FUN
Provide opportunities for kids to feel good and have fun while moving! Allow time for students to play freely and creatively.
2. MAKE MOVEMENT A PART OF THE DAY
Rather than seeing physical activity as a separate and distinct part of the day, incorporate it throughout the day.
3. SET GOALS
Let your students set their own goals for improvement. Rather than comparing their skills to others, encourage a focus on personal growth.
4. CREATE A SAFE SPACE
Cultivate a classroom or school environment where it’s safe to take risks, try something new and maybe even fail! Be okay with not being perfect. You may not have mastered a lay up or the moonwalk. Allow your students to see you practice and improve along with them.
5. ROLE MODEL
Find activities that you love and that make you feel good. Participate in the activities you instruct your students to do. When they see you value the activity, they are more likely to value it for themselves.
These five things will help your students to develop fundamental movement skills, have the confidence to try new activities and enjoy physical activity for life!