Tips for Teaching and Program Design

Parks & Recreation, October 1996 | Go to article overview

Tips for Teaching and Program Design


* Don't worry too much about the intensity, frequency and duration of an activity. That applies later with more regular exercise. Rather, focus on safety and appropriateness of the activity. Make sure it produces enjoyment and that it is something that can be done with no help.

* Fifteen minutes is enough continuous activity. Soon 15 minutes turns into 30. Moments of activity are better than none.

* Keep it light and simple-water and oxygen-the two most important elements that feed the nervous system.

* Sell an image of feeling good instead of working hard.

* If you work with kids, always invite the parents to participate; they'll do anything for their kids.

* People enjoy listening to music-use their music, not yours to play with movement.

* Trend-setting workouts are too complicated for the inactive. Appeal to their sense of ordinary and simple with no bells and whistles.

* Whenever you teach one new movement skill-from a specific stretch to a proper heel strike in walking-you've encouraged adaptation and adjustment and done your daily duty to elicit change.

* Encourage your regular class participants and private clients to invite one inactive person they know to do a fun, no-exertion workout.

* At first, encourage participation. Then encourage personal best.

* Make all activities non-competitive.

* A "participate at your own pace" activity with social aspects is more appealing than a "keep up with the group" situation.

* Take games like shuffleboard, croquet and ping pong seriously. There are a lot of physiological benefits of playing those games.

* Encourage schools to place emphasis on participation in life-long and individual sports like walking, golf and tennis. Football, baseball and basketball have their place, but how many people do you know who still play?

* Always keep in mind limitations: time, financial, physical potential. Participatory decisions are made with considerations of immediate factors such as preference for possible companions, scheduling, habit, and weather.

* Educate people who may not have worked out since high school or college that exercise technique has changed to be safer and more effective. Unless it's completely unsafe, don't try to change an old routine. Work with what they already know making small adjustments.

* Ask lots of questions about current lifestyle and experiences. People decide to try new activities based on past experience and what they see and hear.

* Assess limitations verbally, then physically. Warm up with normal movements like walking, standing and sitting.

* Teach the four-step process for a nervous system workout, including physical cues.

* Practice teaching in very small steps using small movements and muscles to develop small skills.

* Teach moving from a position of stability, known as the ready athletic stance (feet slightly wider than hips, knees and ankles soft, chin up, eyes forward).

* Provide a progression of movements for learning the new task through visual demonstrations and constant explanation.

* Make instructions brief and concise.

* Always introduce the simplest option for any task first.

* Use the "guided discovery" teaching style

* Teach participants to take responsibility for their own actions. You can do this by making tasks optional. They should not feel pressured to try something they are not comfortable with.

* Participants who are not used to taking instruction, hastily try new movements. Encourage them to watch, listen, then try a task.

* Have no preconceived goals other than movement for movement's sake.

* Give immediate positive feedback for efficiency and injury prevention.

* Stretching is within the capabilities of everyone.

Develop Awareness About Balance

Balance is the body's ability to maintain equilibrium. There is balance in every movement from reaching up to a cupboard, to step classes to playing sports. …

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