October 19, 2022 | Emily Ford Sytsma
Physical education happens for our Lower School students in both formal and informal ways. All teachers provide opportunities for movement regularly during the day. Gross motor skills are developed in full-body play in the drama area of the Studio. Children run and climb at their park time daily.
While many motor competencies develop through play, children also need planned activities to guide them to be physically active and healthy for a lifetime (NASPE, 2022) So, our students work with Mr. Zach Licato each week on developing new motor skills according to a developmental continuum and physical education standards.
The PE standards for kindergarten and first grade include work in the following areas:
PE class also involves learning teamwork, effective communication and respect among class and team members. This is a big part of the fall curriculum. Mr. Licato designs organized games at each grade level. He says, “We are working on understanding the meaning of sharing, respect, honesty, and other positive behaviors in games. We also focus on recognizing the importance of safety concerns and behaviors (e.g. rules, signals, routines) when participating in our games.”
Thinking about these social elements and safety while participating in movement, involves the use of many parts of the brain.
Research reveals that physical activity in early childhood has a positive impact on children’s cognitive development, particularly executive function skills and understandings (Carney et al., 2016). And “increased physical activity correlates to increased student achievement, specifically in the areas of learning and memory function” (Edwards, 2014).
You may see a fun game of tag but, in that work, students are building cardiovascular endurance and gross motor skills, learning more about social and emotional regulation and relationships, and improving their mental controls.