Physical development is an important part of prekindergarten education. Children between 2.5 – 4.5 years old are very different from older individuals in their responses to various types of learning (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). Kinesthetic learning is the most prolific when it comes to children’s education and is also congruent with their physical development goals (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). As such, understanding how to integrate different physical activities in literacy, mathematics, music, arts, and social studies is paramount. The purpose of this paper is to observe and evaluate how PD is integrated into the Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) education program.
Examples of Physical Development in the VPK
The Four Years Old to Kindergarten Pre-K preparation program is grouped into 8 domains, the first one of which is physical development. Thus, the program makes physical development a primary priority in children. This is achieved by spending much time outdoors when the weather is good and involving in-class physical exercises when possible (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). Team-based games, plenty of room for movement, and significant amounts of playtime, in general, are the staple of most Pre-K programs.
At the same time, aspects of physical education are integrated into classes that do not have an intuitive connection to such, which include math, literacy, and art classes. The recommendations found in the Pre-K program curriculum state that children should not be learning the basic concepts of these essential skills while sitting at the table, writing with pens and pencils (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). There is a much greater emphasis on gamified objectives since it has been scientifically observed that pre-K students learn much better by doing, which activates their imagination and curiosity.
Examples of such activities in math involve exercises, where each child has to deliver a specific number of colored balls to the basket on the other end of the classroom. This exercise combines the ability to count to 10 with competitive practices and physical activities, as the child has to contribute to success not only by counting the balls he needs to deliver but also by delivering them to the basket as fast as possible (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). Another kind of exercise involves placing colored sticks in shapes of letters to form words. This practice allows the child to learn the ability to form words out of letters while also practicing their micro-motoric skills with the sticks.
Arts and music are easier to incorporate physical development into. Namely, dancing is an activity that incorporates both physical activity, self-expression, music, and the sense of rhythm. Two forms of dancing are found in the Pre-K program, those being free-form dancing and taught dancing (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). The latter allows for children to learn some of the basic tenets of body coordination, while the former offers them an opportunity to explore their own artistic talent and allow their imagination to create. Both are equally healthy for physical development in managing coordinated movement.
Social studies at this age include the basics of social interaction and teamwork. These ideas are easily transferrable into the Pre-K curriculum with an emphasis on physical education. Every competitive game that involves physical activity can be made into a team game, with three important aspects besides practicing motions and movements as part of the fun (“Florida voluntary Prekindergarten,” 2018). Having to interact with fellow and opposing players, understanding short and simple rules, and cooperating towards the same goal achieves several objectives of pre-K training.
The observed Pre-K program had an emphasis on physical development, which incorporated elements of math, reading, music, arts, and social interactions into game-like tasks. The primary method of teaching Pre-K children is kinesthetic, with an emphasis on doing things to understand them. Some of the examples of PD practices included team-based games, dancing, and other tasks that combined mental and physical activities.