There are Better Ways to Pick Teams than having a Team Captain!
For many years, the benefits of physical education have been widely recognized. Participation in physical activity from a young age is designed to motivate youth to be active for life, as well as aid in the development of important skills and overall improvements in quality of life. However, children rarely share the same experience in physical education. For some, it is a fun and thrilling time, whereas for others, it may be painful, boring or lonely. Particularly in grade school, physical education classes can make or break active experiences for youth. One of the biggest concerns in grade school PE classes is inclusivity. Children that are excluded in activities are much more likely to not enjoy physical activity, and therefore not reap the benefits it has to offer.
Picking teams in PE by having team captains select fellow students for any sort of sport or activity is often the most popular way to create teams. Unfortunately, it is also the easiest way to exclude children. The order in which children are selected for a team can dramatically impact self esteem, as well as underline other factors, such as exclusion based on race, gender, social relationships or sexual orientation.
Luckily, there are better and much more inclusive ways to pick partners/teams/groups! They are also more fun and active than simply standing around, nervously waiting to be called on. For instance, try organizing children by having them move around the space, talking with fellow students to determine small groups based on birthday month, height, favourite food/season or number of letters in their name. These collaborative team picking activities do not leave any room for social alienation as all children are equal participants. Increase the thrill of the activity by timing the children to see how quickly they can get into smaller groups based on these common features/interests.
The Be Fit for Life resource “Animoves” is another fun and inclusive way to create groups. The game consists of pairs of cards with multiple different animals; therefore, an easy way to partner up is by having children select a card and move around the space while acting out that animal until they find their pair – another student acting out the very same animal!
In sport and in any recreational activity, we must move towards more inclusive ways to play games, starting with how we select teams. This is a crucial aspect in fostering participation, belonging and inspiration to be active for life in ALL children!
The Animoves resource is available to be borrowed at no cost under “resources” of the Moving and Choosing website, http://www.movingandchoosing.com/as-big-as-the-sky-as-tall-as-the-trees-animoves
Adventure PLAY Project Assistant
Summer Student with the Medicine Hat College Be Fit for Life Centre