East Texas Baptist University’s Kinesiology Department hosted its 11th annual Field Day for Washington Early Childhood Center (WECC) on Wednesday, October 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Keys Gym on campus. ETBU Kinesiology students interacted with over 280 three and four year-olds from the center, allowing them to enjoy a variety of physical activities including parachute play, tricycle riding, and obstacle courses.
“The children take part in seven physical activity stations designed to test a variety of their fundamental motor skills,” ETBU Professor of Kinesiology Will Walker said. “As the event falls on or near Halloween each year, our ETBU students dress in costumes, such as superheroes, book characters, and public servants. Students serve as role models for the children, and we hope to plant early seeds towards a lifetime of enjoying participation in physical activities and exercise. It is sometimes difficult to conceptualize teaching skills to three and four year-olds. In that regard, Field Day is an irreplaceable part of our curriculum. Our students frequently mention Field Day as a highlight of their educational experience while at ETBU.”
The event started in 2008 as a community project for a senior-level sport management course. Later, it migrated to the Motor Development and Teaching Elementary Physical Education courses. The Field Day has been held each year since with help from ETBU students and WECC staff. The outreach event provides students with an opportunity to apply course content, gain experience working with children in a physical education environment, strengthen their servant leadership skills, and build relationships with children and families within the local community.
“I decided to dress as a policeman, and I hope the children learned from us,” ETBU sophomore Ashleigh Rondon shared. “The event was tiring, but seeing the kids smile and laugh made it worth the work. It was rewarding to know that we played a part in giving them a good day. I hope they remember Field Day as they get older and have a positive outlook on physical activity.”
In preparation for Field Day, the class spends time designing lesson plans specifically for elementary students and practices teaching the instructions effectively, incorporating the importance of both wording and body language. As the event is four hours long, students are given a glimpse of what it would be like to teach Physical Education professionally.
“Through the event, I now have a better understanding of what it would actually be like to teach P.E. Physical education teaching takes hard work, high energy, and flexibility,” ETBU senior Jamarcia Banks explained. “Without our lesson plans and training, I would not have known how to give the children proper instruction or how to accommodate students with disabilities. For me, it was so meaningful to see the kids enjoying themselves. I love to make people laugh and feel good about themselves.”
The Washington Early Childhood Center serves students in pre-kindergarten and is the home of Marshall ISD’s Head Start program. The center is focused on preparing each child for kindergarten by providing quality curriculum, engaging activities, and compassionate staff dedicated to the development of all students.
“The annual Field Day hosted by ETBU is an invaluable and necessary experience for our WECC students,” WECC Principal Frances Moore commented. “Aligning with Texas Pre-K guidelines, the event teaches and promotes fine motor skill development. The ETBU students set a strong example of physical activity. Many of them volunteer on our campus daily, and our students look up to them. The partnership between ETBU and WECC provides our students positive role models with various ethnicities and backgrounds.”