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8 Steps To A Successful PE Lesson

Updated: Apr 12

group of children on the playground on a playground

As a PE & Sport Educator there are three things we love to see…

  1. Children being healthy, active and always on the move in lessons

  2. Children learning new skills and techniques

  3. Children having constant fun.

These are achieved by having a successful PE lesson. PE isn’t as easy as just throwing a lesson together. There are various things you must consider, for example, following the curriculum, making lessons accessible for all whilst being adaptable if changes are needed mid-session, or before the lesson has begun.

In this blog I will explain some tips to being successful.

1 – Be Organised Physical Education shouldn’t be ‘just another subject’. PE should be treated as a core subject alongside English and Maths for the wholesale benefits it has on children both physically and mentally, instead of letting children have ‘free time’ or left to use their own initiative in being productive, which often results in time drifting by lessons need to be thoroughly planned. This includes subject knowledge, having a structured lesson and knowing which equipment you need and how to use it. In terms of the lesson itself, you can collate plans from useful, reliable sources such as The PE Hub, or us here at EPC. We are always willing to help share our expert knowledge. When delivering lessons, it is a must that they’re fun and cater for all ability levels. We are adaptive in case we have to move the lesson on to make it more challenging or think how we can make it easier to allow all children to feel a sense of achievement. A top tip is allowing trustworthy children in your class to collect the correct equipment (making sure balls are pumped etc) before the lesson, either at the start of the day, break or lunch. This allows you to run the lesson you planned without needing to change or adapt last minute. This could even be spending 5 minutes in the PE shed trying to find that missing beanbag you need. Keep lessons basic but enthusiastic, whilst making sure talking points are discussed and covered along the way.

2 – Arrival Activities The use of arrival activities is vital. Most of the time you will have 25-30 children, without the opportunity of having your lessons already set up. This should be thought about when planning, and the uses of arrival games will keep children occupied and active, allowing you time to set up. These games/challenges will need to be quick and easy to explain. Younger children’s activities will need to be free flowing and not involve many rules. It may be something quick and easy like relay races, throwing and catching either individually or in pairs, or a simple orienteering exercise. Older key stages can be a little more progressive, but even simple exercises are productive. To go one step further, an arrival activity linked to your session will make the understanding of the lesson easier. Again, if there are any arrival activities of ours you’d like to use, please drop us an email. 3 – Setting The Scene The engagement of children at the start of PE lessons is imperative. If a child has no interest at the start, their involvement and willingness to learn and participate will be lacklustre at best. A common question children ask prior to PE is, ‘What are we doing today sir?’, or, ‘Is it Football today?’, for example. They make judgements on what’s ahead with the information you give. Setting the scene, outlining lesson objectives promptly, creating as much excitement as possible with all the plans you have in place, are all vital parts of a PE lesson. This could be drawing comparisons to favourable relatable sports. Relate personal stories to allow them to understand you’re knowledgeable and would enjoy the lesson if you were taking part. The uses of equipment can also set the scene. Keeping children interacted and occupied, moving them swiftly onto new exercises/activities without long periods of talking, will contribute to a successful lesson. 4 – Spend Time ‘doing’ Whether it is something new for children or repeating for improvement on previously learnt techniques/skills, time spending actually doing activities is essential. The best way for children to learn and perfect skills is by maximum time practising. A rough estimate of 20% speaking and 80% activity throughout your lesson. During the first 5 minutes of the lesson, objectives should be known and children should be straight into active learning to gain more opportunities with the equipment. Throughout this, ensure to keep an eye on those who will need more help across the session, or those that will excel and may need more challenging touch points. Important tips to remember, you don’t need to stop the whole group. Unless you want to move the whole class onto something new, try and stop small groups who need some guidance. When giving individual feedback, try not to pick anybody out as it might make them feel targeted. Instead, start with a positive point and then feed in a way to do something better. Different types of interventions are effective for different scenarios. 5 – Check For Understanding And Use Different Learning Techniques Each child learns and understands differently. It is important to offer various learning techniques to support the needs of the whole class. Having a class of so many children, picking out certain individuals who are struggling with the activity can be tough, especially when you have to keep an eye on everybody else. I tend to allow children a small amount of time to explore the activity of the day, to identify those who may need greater help. After 2/3 minutes, stop the group and explain briefly and demonstrate one more time what is expected, giving an additional few minutes to ensure they definitely understand. Being approachable can help make children relaxed in asking for help. No question is a bad question! 6 – Use Demonstrations Demonstrations can be the most powerful and effective way to learn in PE. Children tend to retain more information by watching, and usually by watching somebody their age as opposed to an adult. To deliver a skill or concept I tend to select a child who excels in PE, but importantly somebody who is confident. The best way to approach this situation is either by asking the child just before the demonstration if they would feel comfortable to demonstrate the skill in question, or present the question to the group. It doesn’t matter if the demonstration isn’t perfect, because you can ask children for constructive feedback in what was good and what could be improved. This also gets their brains working! I love to then demonstrate the skill myself, to then ask the question, ‘What could we both do better?’. Including 3 or 4 teaching points is vital so children can master the skill, whilst referring to these points throughout the lesson. 7 – Creating Well-Rounded Lessons. Head – Hand – Heart!

One of the most vital pillars in these tips is this one. PE isn’t just about making the children run around. Yes you want to make sessions as active as you can, but it isn’t just about learning physical skills. For many children in primary schools, being interactive in a classroom can be challenging and so physical education is a perfect way to promote social skills. PE lessons are the perfect opportunity to improve partner or group work, whilst still promoting independence through exploration. We are proud to be so supportive of health and wellbeing within children, and thrilled to be in partnership with LivWell.

8 – Building Good Relationships With Pupils

When you’re teaching PE, it is imperative to act as a positive role model. Children are inspired when leaders are passionate about sport, even if PE isn’t their favourite subject. Yes children love to see impressive skills and tricks, but if PE is a subject you are less confident in, this can also apply to simpler aspects such as being dressed professionally. Your presence within the lesson will inspire the pupils! PE offers a unique opportunity to develop deeper relationships with children as they learn trust, teamwork and independence. However, setting your expectations and standards are just as important!


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