Physical education has outgrown the gym class. It's moving toward developing physically literate individuals who can enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity that starts in K-12. And a University of Jamestown physical education class for home-schooled children is showing the way.
"We have a real problem on our hands when it comes to childhood obesity, and they are expected to live five years less than their parents," said Chris Mahoney, assistant professor and chair of the UJ Kinesiology Department. "We certainly are not going to reverse that playing dodgeball and kickball and any other inappropriate activities in gym class."
Kinesiology is the study of physical activity, including exercise, daily living, play, sports and work. For students majoring in physical education/teacher education in the Kinesiology Department there's a required course, Message in Physical Education. That course puts students in the UJ gym teaching home-schooled kids in a physical education class.
"It was the perfect blend of practical teachers' training but in a controlled environment," said Mahoney.
The UJ class is set up by age group - 4-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12 and over - and each group is learning physical skills that fit their level.
For kids ages 4-5 it's locomotor skills, such as skip, run, walk and gallop. For ages 6-8 and 9-11 it's manipulative skills such as balancing, throwing/catching, kick, chase-dodge-flee and striking with a racket, and for age 12 and over it's learning to apply tactics and strategies in modified games such as tennis, volleyball and ultimate Frisbee.
"And every lesson includes a mini lesson on developing and learning about personal fitness," Mahoney said.
The eight UJ pre-student teachers rotate through the four groups during 12 weeks of the semester, each experiencing the different ages and what their students can do.
"It's great that we get this opportunity," said Lindi Chadwick. "Teaching all these levels, you have to stay on your toes."
"It gives you a wide range of skill levels," said Nick Thompson, another UJ pre-student teacher. "It's about everybody succeeding in this activity at their skill level."
"There's no such thing as a third-grade activity here," said Mahoney "This class focuses on each student as one of a kind. Every student learns at a different rate and in different ways."
The parents of the home-schooled students like the class.
"We all really love the this program," said Ellissa Rosin, mother of three of the students.
"The kids love to come to run and play fun games," said Erin Motschenbacher, mother of five.
"We strive hard every day to prepare our students so they can provide a quality physical education classroom experience for their students," Mahoney said.
For Mahoney, this is a step in toward achieving the National Standards for K-12 Physical Education goal of developing physically literate individuals..
"Physically literate students have learned skills and concepts necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities," he said. "They participate regularly in physical activities and they value physical activity and how it contributes to a healthy lifestyle."