My first day of the sport & splash program I got the opportunity to meet the student I was going to be working with for the rest of the semester. The student I worked with was a 9 year old boy with Down syndrome and his name was Peter. We got the choice of working with our students in the pool or the gymnasium and I chose to work in the gymnasium. For the first day I spent a lot of my time working with Peter on getting to know him, find out his interests and get to know him as best as I can. I had set up some activities for him so I could complete a post assessment using the TGMD 2. The lesson went really well overall; he was a lot smarter than I thought he was going to be. His loco motor skills weren’t too bad but there was definitely room for improvement. After my first day with Peter I am definitely excited to continue working with him for the rest of the semester. I am new to adaptive education but I have a feeling I am going to be able to learn a lot from this experience.
My second day with Peter was a little different than my first day with him. The beginning of my lesson went really smooth when I had him knocking down and putting back together the stacker cups, however after I showed him this activity that’s all he wanted to do. I brought Peter down to the racquetball courts because I thought I could keep his attention for longer without all the distractions around us. I attempted to go over some dribbling skills using both a basketball and soccer ball but Peter did not want anything to do with it today. I had a lot of trouble getting him to stand up because he just wanted to lay on the floor. The teacher assistants (Carly & Jamie) were nice enough to help me out. They came down and had Peter perform some floor exercises so he can stay on the floor but still get some physical activity out of it. From this lesson I learned to always have a backup plan and that is exactly what I’m going to do from now on.
Today Peter and I were going to go over some jump roping and hula hooping. Before that we went through a quick warm-up using task cards. Everything ran very smooth today for about the first 30 minutes. Peter seemed very familiar with jumping rope using a hula hoop he had the motions down very well and was pretty consistent with it. He also knew how to do it with an actual jump rope to. After about a half of an hour went by we had the same problem from the previous class Peter was fed up with learning and just laid on the ground. So this time I decided to sit next to him and presented the idea of multiple floor exercises, and without hesitation he began performing the exercises with me for about 10 minutes until we went up for the group activity.
Today was my fourth day working with Peter and I am starting to get much more comfortable showing up to this program every Monday evening. The first day I was so nervous and had absolutely no idea what to expect, and today was completely different I walked in with some confidence. I also got to know Peters parents they are very nice people , I feel like I’m getting closer to Peter, it is nice to see that he recognizes me now every time he pulls up to the gymnasium. I have come to realize that making the decision to bring Peter down to the racquetball courts for my lessons was a good choice because we have been getting much more done and I can see that he is having a good time with me. I notice that when I bring Peter up to the gymnasium for the group activities he sometimes get a little nervous and anti-social. For the rest of my lessons I am going to try to slowly include him with the rest of the group until he gets more comfortable with the other students.
This is the 5th time I have met with Peter on Monday and we are begging to develop our own routine. Peter usually shows up a few minutes late and then we drop off his bathing suit and towel in the gymnasium and then I usually take him right to the bathroom to try and prevent him from having any accidents throughout the lesson. On the jog to the bathroom I ask him how his day in school was and what he did over the weekend. After that we usually take a jog to the racquetball courts, Peter likes the big sports pictures on the walls so I always quiz him on what sports he is looking at. When we arrive to the racquetball courts we stretch out a little bit then get right into a warm-up. Peter really enjoys working with task cards so I make different types of task cards with fitness activities to get his blood flowing. After that I have a game set up for Peter which we play until we go upstairs for the group activity.
Communication is very important when working with Peter because at first I wasn’t really able to understand him and I didn’t think I was going to ever be able to know what was going on his hand. I can’t really get a lot of words out of Peter besides yes or no. By now though I feel like Peter and I are so close that I don’t need any more words then yes or no. I can tell if Peter is having a good time or not. If Peter isn’t having fun hell make it clear, I can see it in his face and he just doesn’t want to participate. If he is having a fun time he has a smile going from ear to ear. Peter really enjoys cows, it his favorite animal so I try to relate anything and everything he lacks interest in to a cow. For example is we leg lifts, his legs are a bridge and he has to lift it for the cows to cross underneath him. Peter also enjoys the activities a lot more if I participate with him, so the harder I work the harder he works which is something I don’t have a problem with at all I love getting out there and participating with the students.
Today after Peter and I get through our usual routine of going to the bathroom and jogging down, then doing a quick stretch and warm up activity I had an obstacle course set-up for him. There were cones set up around the area for Peter to go from cone to cone performing the different activities on the cone. We had a little trouble with this activity because I don’t think Peter really understood that it was an obstacle course and not just a free for all. After I explained it to him a few different ways and awarded him with stickers anytime he did something right he began to do it right. By the end of the lesson he was able to complete the obstacle course. He actually was doing it so well that I was able to begin timing him and having him to try and beat his times. Today was a good day for me because I was really able to notice his improvement and it felt good to help him understand better what the objective of today’s lesson was.
Today I decided to make the lesson similar to the previous lesson to make sure he still understood the whole point of an obstacle course. I changed up the theme of it and made it a “pumpkin field” maze instead of just a regular obstacle course. I had similar skills that I wanted him to perform and I also added some more advanced ones for him. Peter did a great job today I didn’t have to go over the directions more than once so I am very proud of him. Instead of timing him on his progress today I decided to race him myself. After spending these last 8 weeks with peter I began to notice that he has a little bit of a competitive nature to him which I think could be a good thing because sometimes being competitive can make an individual work much harder towards their goals. Today was another good hour spent with Peter it is getting easier every week to work with him.
Today for the warm-up I had fitness skill related to animal movements. I wish I had done this earlier because Peter loved it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to transition him from the warm-up to the actual activity because he was having so much fun and getting such a good work-out at the same time that I was nervous if he was going to have fun with my next activity. After we finally finished the warm-up I went over the cues for throwing a Frisbee with Peter. After a few practice throws he was able to get it down and I had him throwing the Frisbee at a target I had set up for him. Every time he hit the target I would have take a few steps back to make the task more difficult. When I thought he was ready I took him upstairs to Peter and I tagged along with another group where we tried to play a game of” kan jam”. Peter had more fun sitting inside of the “kan” than actually playing the game. I had a little trouble getting Peter to participate after that but thanks to Dr. MacDonald I learned that he was trying to get attention and all I had to was walk away for a few minutes and he would start participating again.
It is getting fairly close to the end of the semester and I have to say that I am much more comfortable working in this program then I was the first day. The first day I had to work with Peter it basically threw off my whole entire day I was so nervous, and now I feel like I am just going to another class or to work. I was extremely nervous because I haven’t really ever gotten this close to somebody with a disability and I really gained a new kind of respect for people with disabilities or people that work with someone with a disability. I really feel like I have learned just as much from Peter as he has learned from me. Today I also had the chance to stay after for the pool lab, I forgot my bathing suit so unfortunately I did not get to go in but I walked around and got to know more of the students and help out by the diving board. The pool lab looks really exciting also so I cannot wait to get in their next time!
Today Peter I did a post assessment using the TGMD 2. We covered all the fitness skills and loco motor skills. I was really happy while doing this because Peter has made a lot of improvement in every single activity. He was doing more reps during the fitness part, and performing all the skills a lot smoother and fluently. It was a good feeling to see all this improvement it’s nice to see that all the times I had Peter practicing that it really paid off. After we got through with all of the skills for TGMD 2 I brought Peter upstairs to the dance room so he can socialize a little more with the other students. Peter and I worked with another group where they were practicing some volleyball skills. It took a little time to get Peter involved with the other students he seemed a little nervous and not wanting to participate at first. After a little while though I got him out there and we were having a good time.
Today is my last day working with Peter in the Sport & Splash program. To be honest I wanted this day to come a.s.a.p. before I started working in this program and now that the day has finally come it’s a sad day. I really like Peter he is a great kid probably one of the happiest kids I have ever met. Every time we jog a lap around the hallways he tries to run into the weight room so I told him on the last day of class I would take him into the weight room. When we went in today I let him pick what machines he wanted to try out, and we really had a lot of fun he was even flexing his arms when we got out of there. After that I brought him upstairs with another group of students and we did some bowling. I really enjoyed working with Peter and in my letter to his parents I made sure they knew that too. Peter even gave me cookies after he left, that may have been the most appreciative feeling I have ever experience through my college career. After my experience with the sport & splash program I am truly thankful that I chose to pursue the career of a physical educator. This is definitely what I want to be.