The “on the mat” curriculum helps students focus, move, and relax. Students learn how to connect their breath to movement and increase their ability to self-manage. Both physical education standards and socio-emotional standards drive the curriculum. Over time, students develop a “vocabulary” of different movements; experience a routine that helps them organize those movements in a safe, thoughtful sequence; and gain proficiency in standards. Students also have a lot fun!
Sessions are differentiated by grade spans in regards to the movement complexities and speed of progression. The program is organized around questions of inquiry that support character development. Each session starts with a question of inquiry, to help students make connections to ideas about respect, responsibility, and perseverance. This design brings together physical education standards and socio-emotional standards.
The program is designed so students have fun while they learn how to focus, breath, and relax. By balancing physical activities with character education, the “on the mat” curriculum provides students tools they can use for the rest of their life. The program balances physical movements with character education; structure with adaptability; and rigor with fun.
Following the sessions in sequence is important since the sessions build upon previous skills as the course progresses. All sessions are built on a three-step design: focus, move, and relax. Instructors will want to reinforce this pattern early on. Every session will open with a question of inquiry for focus and a connection of breath to movement. Next, the students progress through a series of movements. Students end with a relaxation time to ensure students are ready to transition back to the classroom.
During the very first session, the instructor establishes the norms, protocols, and expectations for the course. For sessions 2 through 13, students will learn a “vocabulary” of movements. The instructor will want to help students learn how to complete the movements safely and with confidence. Some games and extensions activities can be helpful to make sure students are having fun and experiencing a range of learning opportunities. In sessions 14 through 25, students practice these movements in a pattern that helps warm up then cool down the body in a systematic way: opening, standing, seated, back bending, optional movements, inverted, and finally closing movements.
The videos provide examples and tips on how to modify or extend the moves, but the instructor must ultimately assess the capacity of the students.