Did you just get “volunteered” for a kid’s activity? Are you inwardly screaming, “KIDS AHHH!!!” ? Are you second guessing yourself with, “Kids are scared of me”?
You can survive and be successful.
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I taught home school gym classes for 22 years and we had two rules.
Kid’s activity: Two Rules
Do your best.
Be kind to each other.
You might be surprised how much those two rules cover.
Do you have some teenage boys that are teasing a younger classmate? “Come on, wimp. Can’t you keep up with the big guys?” OR “That’s my hula hoop! Give it here” OR “You pick up the jump ropes!” OR “She’s an easy out” OR “He pushed ahead of me in line.”
The answer is, “Be kind.”
Do you have someone who is frustrated because they can’t keep up? “It’s okay. I’m not asking you to do Benjamin’s best. I’m asking you to do your best. Are you doing your best? Well, then, that’s what I want. Now let’s go play.”
Make sure that you explain what the rules are.
There is nothing more frustrating to beginning students than learning about the rules as you go. We also had a policy that there were special rules for children under 5 years old. Four year olds don’t take being “thrown out” in kickball very well. Gym class is supposed to be fun! Pair up a young child with an older child when you play kickball and let them run together.
Assign a “super helper” each week to help you hand out and collect equipment. If you are having relay races or teams, assign a team captain. Take the captains aside and explain what you want each team to know. Then send the captains back to their team to explain the rules.
Sometimes let the students be allowed to choose teams and sometimes you assign the teams. You can assign teams by having the students line up by age, height, alphabetically by age, by the colors they are wearing, by their birthday month, etc. Then count off 1, 2, 1, and 2, etc. and have the “1’s” be one team and the “2’s” be the other team.
Also, don’t be afraid to re-arrange a team if it is not working! No one likes playing against a team that is SOOOO much better than they are. Without apology, just re-arrange the teams to keep them pretty evenly divided by ability.
Just say “Ouch!”
It is good to go over the policy of what language is acceptable in the unfortunate event that someone gets hurt. In our gym class, we had the “ouch” policy. If a ball gets kicked in your face, you say ouch. If you fall down, you say ouch. No foul, profane, or vulgar language was acceptable.
Deal with things as soon as they come up.
If you overhear someone using language that is unacceptable, immediately call everyone over and let them know that this is not tolerated. “Do you think it is acting grownup to use a “bad word? It isn’t. People don’t look at you and think, Wow, he’s cool. He’s used a bad word. You know what people think about you? He’s an undisciplined person who knows a bad word.”
Have an emergency plan.
We had a code word. If I said, “Let’s get ready to play Fox in the Chicken house, ” everyone knew what to do and where to go.
If someone from outside my group came in angry or, God forbid, with a weapon and an intent to harm us, I wanted to be able to get the kids out and to safety quickly. Our plan was that the kids would line up at the exit door with their siblings and then go outside to the library (next door). With practice they could be ready to go very quickly.
Practice this at the beginning of the year and then once in the fall and again in the spring.
Use clothespins! (Yes, they work.)
If you have children that aren’t used to following instructions, pin 2 clothespins on each child at the beginning of the class. Explain that children may lose their clothespins for not listening or obeying. If a child keeps their clothespins through the whole class, there needs to be a significant prize (especially the first week) such as 2 cookies, or a small toy from the dollar store. The goal of this approach is to show tangible value to obedience, and hopefully it can be phased out after a month or two.
Kid’s activity: Now take a couple of deep breaths and go have a great time!
Not feeling qualified to lead kids? I share my self doubts in “Teach My Child? Who? Me?!”
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