At Rowntree Montessori Schools, we also value the importance and necessity of physical education, because we acknowledge the importance of skill building and teamwork, as we try to make physical education engaging and fun. Phys-Ed at the Kindergarten level is an extension to academic learning within the classroom that refines each student’s fine motor and gross motor skills. The students start the year off by learning how to play run around games that help them learn to follow simple 3 step instructions, until they have become confident to follow more complex rules, as a result of becoming familiar with the structure of various games. When the students have established the understanding of the rules in a game, they are then taught a variety of sports and fitness drills. Other activities such as parachute, obstacle courses, fitness rotations, and free movement play, are also embedded into the Phys-Ed programme for Kindergarten students at RMS.
Phys-Ed class occurs twice per week, as students wear appropriate gym clothes and shoes at school. Health lessons are also part of the curriculum, which focus on personal hygiene, fire safety in school and at home, healthy eating and identifying road signs, completed through paper-based activities and movement around the gymnasium.
Age-appropriate equipment is used to learn the basic skills in a sport or in free movement activities. Eye captivating materials such as soft coloured balls and hula-hoops grab the attention of students, as teachers create multiple ways to make Phys-Ed engaging. The use of imagination is the most important part of Phys-Ed for Kindergarten students, as they use movement to express real life experiences. For example, when playing parachute, students can demonstrate the waves of the ocean on a sunny calm day or during a storm. This allows the young students to actively participate in an inclusive activity that can relate to their weather discussion later on during circle time in the classroom.
Recently during a Phys-Ed class at the RMS Downtown campus, students were mixed with different age groups from Kindergarten to Grade 2, to complete a teamwork activity similar to the popular children’s board game “Hungry Hungry Hippos”. The game required students to work in pairs, fetch the balls from the middle circle, and bring them back to their bowl as quickly as possible. The students quickly began to strategize, problem solve and work with their partner to be successful and accomplish the activity with a win. This was a great learning experience for students, as it involved multiple grades and ages, and challenged them to work together to create a space where meaningful social interactions and teamwork could occur.
Physical education is not just about being active, it develops skills when solving challenges, competing against a peer or developing fine motor abilities. Phys-Ed at RMS develops self-discipline, responsibility and improved judgement. Students have the opportunity to assume leadership roles, cooperate with others and learn regulations. With a strong Phys-Ed programme, students are supported in their mental health by using the class as an outlet for releasing tension and anxiety. It is a time for them to facilitate their emotional stability and build resilience. A great Phys-Ed programme can be a major positive influence in helping young children successfully socialize with others, and is an important part of peer culture.
At RMS, building a child’s self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are important to us. During Phys-Ed class, children feel included and are part of something great! They feel proud when mastering new skills and concepts, which helps them become more confident, assertive and independent.