7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Small PE Class


small PE class

Managing a big PE class can be tough, but dealing with a smaller one presents its own unique set of obstacles. How do you scale down your lesson plan and adapt your approach if you find yourself teaching a divided class or move to a less-crowded school?

Fortunately, the challenges of lesson planning for a small PE class are greatly outweighed by the advantages for your students. Read on to discover why you should cherish a smaller class size, and how you can turn it to your advantage with exciting activities.

Small Classes, Big Benefits

A lower student-to-teacher ratio reduces the amount of class time lost to tasks like taking attendance and transitioning between activities, which can cost students as much as 21% of their in-class time.

With fewer classmates, each student gets more opportunities to practice activities and refine their skills, while spending less time standing around waiting for their next turn. The luxury of extra time with each student allows teachers to devote their energies to individualized instruction, enabling students to master skills faster and with reduced risk of injury.

If you’re used to teaching PE to larger classes, these 7 tips will help you ensure big fun with a small group:

1. Keep Up the Activities


Maximize time by getting your students involved in the traditionally non-active parts of the class. Try turning attendance into a challenge by asking students to jump on the spot until their names are called. You can also make setting up the next activity into a game of its own, so none of your PE lesson goes to waste.

2. Provide Personalized Instruction


A smaller class affords you more time to spend with each student. Consider assessing each child in advance to determine what they can do. This way, you can ensure personalized instruction, more suitable goals, and a better student-teacher relationship, which will boost engagement in PE classes.

3. Teach the Finer Points


Personal instruction is one of the best ways to teach mastery of a skill, while also encouraging kids to take responsibility for their own learning. Teach physical literacy and coach each student to fluency in a way that speaks to them as individuals. Not everyone needs to learn the same activity at the same time or pace – nor do they have to in a smaller and more flexible class.

4. Create Appropriate Teams


If your focus is on skill development, partner students of comparable abilities together so they can both learn from your feedback and coach each other. Shy students can be teamed up with consistent workout buddies to help them stay engaged and overcome any reluctance they might feel in a larger class. With a smaller class, you can get to know your students better and find out what works best for them.

5. Promote Cooperative Learning


Let your students work together to increase their self-confidence among other more specific skills. Simple games in which participants collaborate to accomplish tasks, like folding a tarp into various shapes, teach teamwork, cooperation, and problem-solving. What’s more, they’re ideal for smaller classes and limited space.

6. Scale Down Games


Many games designed for big groups can be easily pared down for smaller classes. Basketball, soccer, volleyball, and other sports are easily scalable and can take advantage of smaller spaces and limited equipment. Instead of defending two separate hoops or nets, for example, have both teams attempt to score on the same one. This turns a standard game into one of quick transition and possession.

7. Develop Knowledge Circuits


Set up a series of activity stations that each feature a unique task where movement to the next station is contingent on the completion of the objective. These stations can cover a variety of topics, including fitness, research, or skill development. Students can share knowledge and develop leadership skills, while helping one another complete the tasks as a group before advancing to the next challenge.

At SPARK, we work hard to create the best research-based physical education programs for kids from pre-K through grade 12. Discover our PE lesson plans for all ages and class sizes now.

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