Putting Pals

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During the course of two weeks, kindergarten and sixth-grade students at Shaw Avenue Elementary School gathered together during physical education class to learn the fundamentals of mini-golf while the older students mentored their younger peers. Facilitated by physical education teachers Nicholas Clark and Eric Van Keuren, at least two to three kindergarten students were paired with two sixth-graders who guided them in the game. 

The school gymnasium was transformed into a mini-golf course as students learned mini-golf terminology, how to hit the ball, the purpose of the game and how to keep score. Sixth-graders helped the younger students with their form and cheered them on as they tried to score a hole-in-one. This was the third physical education unit that combined mentoring with play. The students previously collaborated in capture the flag games and a gymnastics unit. 

“The peer mentoring that we do, especially in the mini-golf unit, builds such a good relationship between the older students and younger students,” said Clark. “The older students do a great job and the younger students really look forward to it, especially as they grow throughout their years at Shaw Avenue School because then they become the older students who become the teachers.” 

Peer mentoring encourages cooperation, teamwork and patience, all the traits that help build students’ character, which corresponds with Valley Stream District 30’s “Show Your Character” theme for the 2017-18 school year. The unit also helps students develop their math skills as they work together to tally up their scores. The teachers look forward to continuing the physical education peer mentoring experience for years to come.