Keeping Play In PE

“We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

How we teach PE and School Sport

This quote got me to thinking about how we teach PE and school sport. For some time now I have been of the belief that in PE lessons we don’t allow enough time for children to experiment and make mistake.  Children need to discover, play and generally spend time on a task when learning new physical skills. This time and the physical process of trying, attempting, failing and succeeding are essential to making a child physically literate.

Confident teaching

It takes a confident teacher to step back and allow a child to make a mistake several times before stepping in to guide or wait and watch them finally succeed.   As teachers, we need to be brave and let children shout at one another until they realise this doesn’t help them get more passes in a game.   We must resist the urge to give the answer and allow children just that extra bit of discussion time until they can solve the problem themselves.

Benefits of allowing pupils to play

“But we just want to play” is a phrase often heard from the mouths of pupils in PE, showing their frustration at what they see as constant interruptions to their fun. The challenge for us as teachers is to guide our pupils to learn through play.  Pupils should see every activity as play and the following skills and knowledge they acquire as making their play better. With the introduction of the new National Curriculum, we have never been freer!  As teachers we should foster children’s natural desire to get up and walk, run, jump, to play.  As teachers, we should support pupils to communicate with others through games and physical activity and to make it a lifelong passion.

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