Can you remember when you started to realise that other people were more able to complete certain skills or tasks than you? Or when you became particularly confident in one activity that led to a lifetime of participation?
You may not remember the exact age, but I can tell you! At 7 years old, children begin to understand where they fit in to the ‘ability hierarchy’. 7 YEARS OLD! That is incredibly young to lose confidence in your ability to play with other children due to a lack of competence. From this point, a downward spiral of inactivity can occur.
On the flip side, this is extremely early to believe you are great at one activity and only that activity. If we only focus on that one particular skill set what will happen if we are unable to participate in that activity at a later date?
Our goal is to develop the ability level of all individuals by 7 years old. If we can do this, more people will play on a more regular basis as more individuals will be of the same ability level, therefore increasing the prospect for equal opportunity to participate and to be successful.
How can we do this? By adapting and including all individuals in all games and activities. No matter what your previous experience with a skill, there are ways to adjust each game to each individual. This may be by altering the specific equipment that each person uses, or the space of the playing field. An example of this would be to think about tennis, and developing skills of striking an object with an implement. For experienced players, a full size, regular tennis ball may be appropriate, whereas for a player holding the racquet for the first time a balloon offers a much slower, larger target to practice the skill. The task of the game is the same, hit the object 10 times without it hitting the ground, and the challenge for each individual is the same due to the adaptation in equipment, allowing for each individual to be optimally challenged, be successful, build confidence and stay motivated to participate.
At Fundamental Foxes camps, we focus on the needs of each individual, what they can do and how we can adapt activities to challenge them. Not only that, we do this across many different activities, games, movements, sports and much more! Exposure to as many opportunities as possible at this age allows children to build their skills and understanding of how to move in many contexts, setting the platform for participation in whatever activity they choose to pursue at a later age.
~Chris Wright is Physical Literacy Coordinator at PISE and proud father of a beautiful, little girl. He is in charge of all of the fabulous kids programs, summer camps, teacher mentorship and much more.