Ok, quick— what does installing a floor joist and skipping have in common? Well, not much. But similar to building a house, where you’d better have solid footing; you’d better start with a strong foundation when building athleticism in early elementary students.
As students enter kindergarten, there are several important developmental processes that play a part in their cognitive growth. Understanding these processes and how they affect long-term development is important for teachers and coaches. It allows them to effectively deliver a physical education program that sets students up for long-term success and engages them in a physically active lifestyle. At Athlos Academies we do just that. Level one of the Athlos Athletic Curriculum is focused on developing physical literacy through FUNdamentals of movement. Physical literacy is defined as the development of the basic ABCs of movement.
Level 1 is designed as a foundational block that supports Levels, two, three and four just like that floor joist. This will progress basic fundamental movement, exposing students to a variety of different movements and sports skills with the objective of long-term athletic development. This work engages children in healthy, active lifestyle habits whether they participate in competitive sports or not. So what does this foundation for movement look like?
We’ve identified four categories that we believe address fundamental movement competencies that are necessary for long-term athletic development.
*body control is the ability to coordinate movements with accuracy. As motor control is written and defined over this period of cognitive development, specific practice to reinforce these new patterns is important for skill acquisition. Skill acquisition is focused on in later levels but is built on the foundation of good body control.
*body awareness, this refers to the ability of the mind to know what is required of the trunk and limbs and to be conscious of how a movement is being performed. From kindergarten through second grade, students are able to acquire new, complex, movement skills at a staggering rate. Movements like rolling, tumbling, jumping and landing are important developmental milestones for students in this age group. But as children get older, it becomes more difficult to learn these skills because specific developmental windows, like flexibility, begin to close.
*traveling, here students will be utilizing different forms of multi-joint, multi-planar locomotive movements to cross distances. Foundational movements like hopping and leaping help improve dynamic balance and stability while more advanced movements like skipping and shuffling develop better-coordinated complex multi- limb patterns in different planes and in different directions of travel.
*interpretation. The ability to use movement to problem solve in many different situations integrates not only a child’s physical tools but tools pertaining to their cognitive and social development as well.
See— physical education is much more than just structured recess. Movement science reveals effective ways to develop athleticism. Athleticism in the sense that each student will be equipped with the basic tools to conquer whatever physical challenges they find interesting. Team sports? Maybe. Extreme sports? Possibly. Recreational sports? Hopefully. But whatever it may be, each early elementary aged student will have a solid movement foundation and be ready to start taking on new challenges seen in Level two of the Athlos Athletic Curriculum.
By: Chandler Herdt