This is the first post in a series of posts I am planning to do on one of my favorite things- obstacle courses! Lately, I have been having so much fun setting up different courses for my students in my school-based OT practice. Today, I want to share some of the reasons why I love obstacle courses and why I think you should love them too!
Obstacle Courses Increase Student Engagement
Obstacle courses can be a great way to motivate students to participate and engage in group activities. Students tend to be excited about the movement and trying something new. You can even embed academic skill building into obstacle courses too!
Obstacle Courses Teach Important Foundational Skills
Forget the gross motor aspect for a minute – obstacle courses are an awesome way to teach and let students practice important foundational school readiness skills in a fun way. These important skills can include things like waiting for a turn, following multistep directions, using materials safely and asking for help.
Obstacle Courses Provide Goal Directed Movement Opportunities
We all know the important of movement and how movement opportunities positively impact learning. However, many students need explicit, goal-directed movement opportunities to reap the full benefits. Just telling a student to ‘take a break’ or ‘go for a walk’ may be helpful for some, but many benefit from a more structured approach. Obstacle courses also allow for students to experience a variety of sensory input, which can be customized to meet each student’s sensory profile.
These are just a few reasons I am loving obstacle courses right now! After reading this, you might be interested but also might be feeling overwhelmed. Obstacle courses can sounds complicated and like something that requires a lot of equipment. I am here to reassure you that while yes, some obstacle courses can use a lot of fancy equipment or take up a lot of space, there are so many ways to make this idea functional for school settings without using a ton of expensive equipment. Be on the lookout for my follow up posts, where we will go a little more in depth and explore specific considerations when setting up obstacle courses, including ideas for low and no equipment setups and ways to embed additional skills into this motivating gross motor activity!