Teaching Social Skills in Physical Education

In this episode of the PE Express podcast, SPARK Development Director Jeff Mushkin shares a few tips for teaching social skills in Physical Education.

Social interaction is a lifelong skill and #PhysEd is an environment that gives students an opportunity to practice these skills every day. - @JeffMushkin Click To Tweet

How to Integrate Social Skills in PE

[0:26] Today I’d like to talk about integrating social skills into Physical Education classes. So why is it important to do that? In a traditional classroom, you know, a lot of times students are sitting in their seats, the teacher’s teaching, and students are just sitting and listening and then they’re working independently. Physical Education is one of the rare classes where social skills are an integral part of the daily lesson. Students are moving around, they’re talking to others, they’re participating, they’re engaging, communicating. And so all these social skills come into play every single class period.

Why is it Important?

[1:00] So what is the need, it’s really to build those positive skills and those skills can be used in the classroom as well as in life for the rest of the student’s life. So you need to learn how to interact with other people and in physical education, they have all those opportunities, because it’s not just about participating, but you’re also competing, sometimes. There’s winning and losing, there is the cooperative element where you have to contribute to a group task and so all of these activities, you know, really provide that foundation for social skills and it’s the perfect opportunity to not only teach, but also to reinforce those skills. And really it can build skills that will last them a lifetime. I really feel like it’s what students learn in physical education, when it comes to these social skills can be applied in every part of life. Because once they leave school, they’re going to be getting a job, they’re gonna have to learn how to interact with other people and get along and how to respect other people’s space, their property and so you can learn those skills in Physical Education. That’s a perfect opportunity for us as teachers.

Our Opportunity in Phys Ed

[2:06] What is really the role of social skill instruction in PE? As teachers, what we can do is we can provide the opportunity. We can teach them about a social skill and allow time to practice it, and then we can incorporate it into the activity. So it’s really about teaching and reinforcing. So we can teach a skill such as respect, and then we want to talk about that and what does that look like in our class, and then ask students to demonstrate that in their lesson for the day. So even something such as encouragement, that might be an easy one to start with because you share what the skill is, kind of talk about what it looks like, what it sounds like, and then say, I want to hear this. I want to see encouragement when you’re participating today. So they can go out and do that. So when someone takes a shot on goal, somebody else you know, might say, “hey, nice shot” or “good try”, and they can really demonstrate those skills and then that could apply to other areas of life.

Ideas for Integrating in PE

[3:00] So how do we integrate this into PE classes? Well, students may know what the skill means. They might know what respect kind of means and what responsibility is, but do they really know how to demonstrate it? So that’s what I like to teach in my classes is not just what it is, but also how to use it. What does it look like? What does it sound like? So we use a T chart, where we show say, what does it look like? And then we list all the ways that you can see, let’s just say respect. And then what does it sound like? What would I hear in a class if I was hearing examples of respect? So we want to establish the need, and then we want to incorporate this skill into an activity and practice that skill. So that’s a way for us to assess it is can they use it in this activity and be intentional about it? So we really want them to understand not just what it is, but also how do we apply it? And I don’t think enough kids know how to use that skill and demonstrate the skill. They might understand what the word means, but can they use it practically in their everyday life?

To learn more about how SPARK integrates social skills into PE lessons, visit SPARKpe.org

SPARK is dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating research-based programs that promote lifelong wellness. SPARK strives to improve the health of children and adolescents by disseminating evidence-based physical activity and nutrition programs that provide curriculum, staff development, follow-up support, and equipment to teachers of Pre-K through 12th grade students. SPARK is committed to providing outstanding customer satisfaction through timely delivery and exceptional service. SPARK believes in fostering a positive working environment that values professional growth, upward mobility, and opportunities for people to work together toward common goals.

SPARK is dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating research-based programs that promote lifelong wellness. SPARK strives to improve the health of children and adolescents by disseminating evidence-based physical activity and nutrition programs that provide curriculum, staff development, follow-up support, and equipment to teachers of Pre-K through 12th grade students. SPARK is committed to providing outstanding customer satisfaction through timely delivery and exceptional service. SPARK believes in fostering a positive working environment that values professional growth, upward mobility, and opportunities for people to work together toward common goals.

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