When planning your physical education class, all students no matter their ability or level of physical activity should be able to participate fully in all aspects of your program. Here are four strategies you can use for adapting games and activities for participants with varying ability levels.
- Equipment Size: The size of the equipment can be modified to allow a student to be more independent and successful. Larger balls can be used to make catching and striking easier. Smaller bats or striking implements can be used for students who cannot hold regulation bats, and lowering nets in volleyball or making baskets lower and balls larger can be used in basketball. The weight of objects can be modified in such a way that the game can be slowed down or can be made less intimidating. For example, a beachball or balloon can replace a volleyball or a soft skin ball or deflated soccer ball can replace a regulation soccer ball.
- Space: The playing area can be made smaller by making alternative boundaries. The space can also be made smaller by utilizing the corner of the gym or room so that the ball does not go as far away from the students. Rather than playing one large game of any sport, multiple small game should be utilized to maximize student participation.
- Peer Assistance: The buddy system can help build self-confidence for students, and buddies should be volunteers vs. being assigned. If there is a range in ages of students in a school, pairing a younger and an older student together could help to make the situation less intimidating for the younger student.
- Rules of the Game: Adjust the rules of activities to increase students’ chances of success while maintaining an optimal level of challenge. Consider increasing the number of tries/attempts allowed, making a target bigger or moving it closer, as well as lengthening or shortening the amount of playing time.
Most importantly, educators should approach each situation on an individual basis, in consultation with the student as well as utilizing any support personal/systems and agencies that are available.
For more information on inclusive physical education, check out Ophea’s Steps to Inclusion resource, available for free here.