Gym class can be difficult for many students. It is often a less structured time which has a lot of stimuli going on. There are also many social interactions that take place between peers. This may be interacting with one another, or playing a sport within the gym class. This may be a challenge for any child, no less one with special needs. Adaptive physical education classes are helping to change the way students interact and make it a successful experience for those involved.
Adaptive physical education classes are run by adaptive physical education teachers. They work with students who have gross motor developmental delays or physical impairments that make it so that they are not able to participate in traditional gym classes. Adaptive physical education teachers differentiate their class instruction so that it works with the children and their needs. This allows students to be successful and feel like active participants. They will no longer be frustrated by classes which are too complicated, loud, or advanced for them. The adaptive physical education environment gives them the means to be a part of a team.
When coming up with spaces and programs, it is important to look at the needs of your school and district. If you have a location to put up a climbing wall, it may be beneficial for students to utilize. The walls help kids to work on motor skills and strength building in a non-threatening way. It also becomes a problem-solving challenge. They must work on ways to maneuver their body through different spaces within the climbing wall. Some schools with adaptive physical education classes have looked to peers to volunteer to assist in classes. They help to play games and cheer on their special need peer. It also allows all of the students to form friendships over time.
If you are a physical education teacher, look into the requirements to become a certified adaptive physical education teacher in your state. This is a wonderful addition to have on your resume. If you already have this certification and you are not utilizing it in ways that could benefit your students, check in with administrators. Talk to them about ways that adaptive physical education classes could be done to benefit not only special need students, but peers who want to volunteer their time to assist others. Expanding a program can be a win-win situation for all involved.