A significant moment in my physical literacy journey occurred when I delivered a yoga lesson to a Grade 1/2 class. I am not a certified yoga instructor or a Health and Physical Education (HPE) teacher. My yoga experiences consisted solely of recreational hot yoga classes. The mental and physical benefits encouraged me to bring the activity into the classroom. Students were interested and actively engaged. I modelled movements at the front and they repeated my actions. Following this, I read a meditation poem as the children lay on the carpet with their eyes closed. After, we had a whole group discussion where students reported feeling “peaceful” and “calm.”
This is noteworthy since physical literacy aids development of the whole child, and enables individuals to move competently in various physical settings (Corlett & Mandigo, 2013). Students have “motivation to use movement potential” and are able to engage in “reading and responding to various environments (Corlett & Mandigo, 2013, p. 19). This anecdote is an exemplar that indicates young learners are capable of articulating how physical movement impacts them, and that professional certification is not a requirement needed to bring fun HPE lessons into the classroom. Gross motor skills were practiced within a supportive setting. According to ParticipACTION (2016), “three quarters of schools in Canada report using a physical education (PE) specialist to teach PE in their school.” However, only 9% of Canadian children are attaining the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily (ParticipACTION, 2016). Thus, students need more physical activity and teachers that do not specialize in Physical Education can promote well-being by integrating physical activity into cross-curricular lessons.
My issue with physical education as a child was the lack of connection I felt. Sports were competitive and I lacked hand-eye coordination which decreased confidence. I didn’t like sweating and didn’t understand how physical activity impacted my cognitive, mental or emotional functioning. I perceived HPE as tedious. But activities such as yoga teaches students to acknowledge their emotions andphysical states. A meditation poem with deep breathing showed the relevance yoga has to students’ emotional states. In identifying how they felt, they thought critically. Lorusso, Pavlovich, and Lu (2013) explain that enjoyment is more long term than the concept of fun with students more actively involved. With yoga, moves can be altered to suit different capabilities. Postures are also easy. Developmentally appropriate lessons facilitating student success means students may feel empowerment, promoting enjoyment (Lorusso et al., 2013). With enthusiasm in my teaching, students did not know I lacked yoga accreditation. Laughter and smiles were evident throughout. Since research suggests that enjoyment of HPE is associated with the amount of physical activity students engage in outside of class, teachers must take responsibility to make HPE relevant to students’ lived experiences (Lorusso et al., 2013). In future practice, I would explicitly state how physical activity benefits the other developmental domains, promote thinking about holistic health to foster daily healthy and active living, and provide variety to meet differing interests.
Corlett, J. & Mandigo, J. (2013). A day in the life: Teaching physical literacy. Physical and Health Education Journal, 78(4), 18-24.
Lorusso, J. R., Pavlovich, S. M., & Lu, C. (2013). Developing Student Enjoyment in Physical Education. Physical & Health Education Journal, 79(2), 14-18.
ParticipACTION. (2016). Are Canadian Kids Too Tired to Move? Retrieved from https://www.participaction.com/sites/default/files/downloads/2016%20ParticipACTION%20Report%20Card%20-%20Full%20Report.pdf