What is inclusive physical education?
Learning environments where students with disabilities are engaging with their peers without disabilities, accessing and participating in the physical education curriculum in meaningful ways.
Physical education provides "an opportunity for everyone to shine... it [should] perfectly exemplify acceptance and inclusion of all abilities. The effect on self-confidence and self-esteem for all involved [can be] profound..."
~ Peggy Mace, mother of two students with Down syndrome enrolled in the Dover High School (NH) Unified Wellness Program
Considerations to promote an inclusive physical education classroom
At the heart of PE is learning how to move and play alone and with others.
Leverage peer support: Students learn best from their peers.
Utilize the principles of universal design: One size will not fit all, so provide options for activities and instruction.
Utilize support services: You do not need to have all the answers. Think about other support personnel who can be utilized (e.g., paraprofessionals, occupational and physical therapists, and others who provide services).
Utilize instructional strategies that match the learner’s strengths and accommodate multiple types of learning modalities.
- Using visual aids and physical modeling techniques (visual learners).
- Providing verbal cues and instruction (auditory learners).
- Allowing participants to “learn by doing” and incorporating movement throughout instruction (kinesthetic learners).
- Combine approaches to reach all learners.
Utilize fitness assessment data* to support individual goal setting and plans for improvement.
- Use assessment data to determine Present Level of Performance (PLP).
- Identify areas of need based on items in which standards have not been met.
- Create goals and objectives based on areas of need.
- Incorporate goals and objectives into a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- Identify appropriate activities to promote health-related fitness.
*Note: Select portions of the Brockport Physical Fitness Test Manual and FitnessGram® Manual are provided for use at pyfp.org.
Plan instructional time to support progressive learning.
- Consider order of presentation of materials (e.g., begin with activities that are easily attainable and move toward more demanding tasks, then conclude with a successful experience).
- Maintain structure and routines to support predictability (e.g., post plan for the day's class, so students know what to expect).
- Allow for breaks, as needed.
Arrange the class in a variety of ways to optimize class cohesion and engagement.
- Large group (warm-up).
- Small group and/or peer-to-peer (drill work).
- Stations (focused skill-building).
Utilize cues or supports that will foster independence.
- Provide verbal cues (accompanied by demonstrations, guided assistance, tactile teaching, visual aids, etc.).
- Provide short episodes of instruction.
- Create a system for starting and stopping (e.g., music, buddy, physical touch, etc.).
- Allow more opportunities for students to practice the task or skill.
- Modify or eliminate some rules.
- Slow down the pace of the game.
- Adapt the objective of the game.
- Add guidance or assistance, where appropriate.
- Change the number of players.
- Decrease time of play.
- Modify competitiveness.
- Include choices based on the intent of the outcome (e.g., to practice striking an object over a net, use different racquets, balls, birdies, etc.; widen, lower, or otherwise modify the size of the nets/goals; etc.).
- Vary the size, texture, and weight of the equipment (e.g., bigger/smaller; softer/harder; longer/shorter).
- Use audible methods, when appropriate.
- Increase visual cues.
- Monitor noise level.
- Consider lighting.
- Use music, when appropriate, to motivate students.