Lessons from School - Change the Rules - How to Include Everyone

Darren Michalczuk

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Change the Rules

Have you ever seen a child left out of a game? Being a part of a game where there are only two strong players who really have a chance to play isn’t any fun, especially if you are a kid. Often street games are played with rules that favour the stronger or dominant athletes. As a teacher, being aware of this is the first step toward involving everyone, even those who aren’t gifted with speed, strength or agility.

Keep in mind how fragile the ego of a young child is. Being bullied on the field, being chosen last and going an entire game without touching the ball can be tough for any kid to deal with. That is why as an adult we try to set up an environment that fosters growth rather frustration. Remember, childhood games should be fun.

Let’s take a look at the game of football. This is a game that can be played with students in grades five to eight depending on the ability of the class. Start by choosing teams. Keep in mind that picking two captains who choose players one at a time is one of the worst ways to pick teams. An option would be to have students shake hands with someone with about the same ability. Often you’ll get friends shaking hands, which is good as they will be on separate teams. Then put one player on one team and the other player on the other team. You might tell the students wearing the most white or the youngest players from each pair to go to one side. This will help ensure fair teams. As you set up and play the game, feel like you can make changes. In fact, hopefully you feel that way about all games you set up for kids.

The next step is to set up the field. Six pylons can be placed on the field to make a rectangular area. Start with two pylons set about twelve steps apart. The next two pylons can be placed steps from these to make a square. The next two can be place twelve steps from any two pylons to make a field that is twelve steps by twenty four steps. This makes the game less overwhelming as scoring is always a possibility.

Now for the rules. Hopefully you are a little familiar with the rules of football before you start. The rules for these games should be set up so everyone has a chance to play. To start the smallest player takes his or her turn by throwing the ball from behind their own end zone (area at the end of one of field). This replaces the kick-off. Everyone takes turns being the quarterback, no matter what. Although a catch allows the player to keep running with the ball, you should count any play where the ball is touched with the hands as a completed pass. This will allow the not so gifted athletes a chance to have success until they learn to catch proficiently. With teams of three or four players, everyone should get a chance to be part of the action. One hand touch rather than two hand touch will make it easier to judge plays. Every time a team makes it across the other team’s end zone in four tries it counts as a touchdown. It will be a high scoring game, but the students will be having fun.

These are the rules we play by. They may not work for everyone, but they work for us. Making a game fun and encouraging for kids is very rewarding. If it’s not, change the rules.

Darren Michalczuk is the founder of the Brick School. He is an experienced classroom teacher who has developed many programs and resources for math, language and music. The Brick School offers quality educational posters, programs and worksheets online for elementary language arts, math and music. Materials are designed to promote effective learning strategies in an easy to understand, straight-forward format. They offer both practical solutions to learning problems and leading edge technology and techniques. It reaches both struggling students and those who need extra challenges in class. With the latest software and leading edge learning strategies, our materials are paving the way for learning. User-friendly porgrams give students instant feedback while they practice important basic skills. Lessons and study guides also include proven learning strategies and memories techniques. Please visit our website. http://brickschool.ca


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