Reaching the Outliers

2013-06-03 15.14.30

We’re now a month into the new school year, and everyone has settled comfortably into their new routines.  As my summer workload of swim lessons & aqua yoga eases, it’s time for me to put on my school volunteer hat again.  Because of my interests and skills, I have chosen to focus my volunteer efforts with the PE program at my kids’ school.

I wrote last Spring about becoming certified as a Basic Archery Instructor through the National Archery in Schools Program.  What I never came back to tell you about, however, was just how much fun it was to work with the kids as they learned this totally new skill and sport.

In the NASP protocol, process is stressed over product.  That means that getting kids to think about how they are going through the “11 Steps to Archery Success”– the process of getting the bow and arrow up and into a shooting position– is more important than whether or not the arrow hits the bullseye.  As such, it was fascinating to discover that the kids who struggled most were those who generally excelled at PE.  The kids who were used to being the biggest, fastest, strongest, and most competitive seemed to be at a disadvantage.  Instead it was the kids who could internalize the process of archery and slow down and pay attention to each step who wound up with the best results time and time again.

Not only was it exciting to see the PE outliers have success with archery, but it was heartwarming to see how their classmates reacted.  Without exception, kids cheered on their classmates and reveled in their new-found success.  It was a topsy-turvy PE world for a few weeks, and the new kids on top were rightly puffed up and proud of their accomplishments.

The whole archery unit was a great lesson in the power of paying attention.  Furthermore, kids learned that details matter, and when they rush through the 11 Steps, they don’t get the results for which they hope.  These lessons translate easily to classroom learning and to life!

I’m grateful that my kids have a PE coach who is an educator– he seeks to reach all of the kids who come through the gym doors, and by bringing archery to the school, many of the kids who were PE-averse now have something to look forward to.  Teaching kids that there is more to physical activity than running, kicking, and throwing is about creating life-long PE learners.  The same holds true for inactive adults– there *is* something out there that you like and are good at…just keep looking for your target.


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