Remember the days when P.E. class was a series of somersaults and jumping jacks? Sometimes you’d play dodgeball, and depending upon your skill level, you were either ecstatic or miserable. You might learn to dribble a basketball or run around a track. And some days you wondered what exactly IS “P.E?”
At The Lexington School, P.E. is Physical Education HEALTH and WELLNESS , and it is about helping children develop the strength they need for achieving confidence in EVERY area of life. One way is through building strong gross motor skills.
There is ample research to support the relationship between improved motor skills and academic achievement in ALL children. That’s why Donna Hutton (Preschool Director) and Jane Childers (Director of The Learning Center) spent over a year researching how to bring more gross motor depth to the Physical Education program at TLS. They traveled to several schools in Atlanta and collaborated with Julia Kraska of Kraska and Associates to design the best scenario for The Lexington School.
Now the school has added new equipment like a climber, zip line, and tire swing to the preschool playground, scooters and other useful equipment for use in hallways and outside. And just this year the school completed the installation of a fully-equipped gross motor gym complete with a 40-foot long traversing wall. Other equipment includes: Kid-Lite barrels, resistive tunnels, super blocks, river stones, bosu balls, roller racers, go-go rollers, line scooters, angle ladders, and much more.
Huge thanks goes to Julie Kraska of Kraska and Associates. According to Ms. Hutton, “We visited schools for children with learning differences in Atlanta to see some gross motor gyms up close. We could not find a school that had equipment available for use by ALL children, so we worked with Julie on a recommended equipment list – one for use with P.E. teachers and one for use with a licensed occupational therapist. We chose only the equipment that Julie recommended for use by P.E. teachers.”
There’s more. As Donna Hutton explains, “It’s not enough that we are the only school in the state with a space so fully equipped. All of our P.E. staff and preschool teachers are trained on how and why we use it. Julie gave of her valuable time, and we definitely benefited from her expertise.”
“For example, with the 6-foot tunnel, an untrained person might think the child just crawls through – end of story. Julie trained the teachers that a child can crawl through and retrieve 1-4 items (differentiated for each child), using auditory memory. This activity can be done as a relay. Another activity might have the child transport weighted balls through or push/pull weighted objects individually or in a group game like tug o’ war. On the Bosu ball, one of the activities is to start out prone and progress to kneeling and then standing (like they are surfing). How fun will it be to progress from this to real surfing on 7th grade trip!”
Meredith McCoun, Assistant Athletic Director and P.E. Teacher, tells many stories of quick success. “The equipment and the space allows me to really differentiate my approach with kids. They respond and learn in ways unique to them, and kids who aren’t naturally successful in one area thrive in another. It reaches everyone where they are and takes them as far as they can go.”
Watch the video to see more.