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Managing of group of more than 40 children

Managing of group of more than 40 children

Annie Hanshew, a student at CSUMB, and one of our experienced after school JUST RUN leaders, offers the following advice to anyone who has a JUST RUN group in excess of 40 children.

The ideal size for a JUST RUN group is 30 to 40 children. The primary reason is not control and discipline, but any larger group will get across the country in the JUST RUN across the USA program too quickly. It is best to split up groups at a school either by grade level or ability level. Natural competition develops between the groups which promotes fun as well as motivation. You can also provide individual attention to each child when you know them and their habits and ability levels. This becomes more difficult as the group gets too large.

Unavoidably, if you are left to handle a large group of over 40 by yourself, it is imperative you try to find a parent, teacher, administrator, or friend, who can help you. It can get chaotic without another leader or assistant, but it is possible to handle a large group by yourself.

Structure is key for any group but even more for a large one. Plan the activities in advance and hand out a schedule or post the schedule on a chalk board for each activity session. Then everyone knows what to expect in advance. You can even use the more mature children as small group leaders in order to keep structure and make sure each child has a supervisor and help.

When doing laps I would place a sticker for each lap on each child so I could keep track of their laps. They enjoyed stickers and often asked to run more than a mile. Even if they have to wait momentarily each lap to get their sticker it gave them motivation and kept them running. I used Tuesday and Thursday as "lap" days and had the children build up the number of laps they could do over time.

I used Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as activity days. To start activity days the kids would take a slow warm-up lap around the field then spread out in a circle for stretching. I used students to help lead the stretching routines. When we were nicely stretched, we would then split them into groups in accordance with the activity planned for that day.

The children really enjoyed the JUST RUN relays and drills so we organized a variety. They would be split up in even groups, according to age; each group would have a variety of ages, so the groups were as even as possible. I or another student would then give an example of what needed to be done in the relay. Children need examples otherwise they will not fully understand how to do it and will perform the task differently than the others. We put older kids in the front of each line because they have more of an understanding and were example for the others in line.

Motivation is another big aspect to their success. Encourage them the whole way through; other kids will catch your energy and encourage too. I suggest keeping the same teams for a few games and see how they progress. The kids really enjoyed jumping and going around things. We used small dodge balls, soccer balls, and cones. We also had them circle around leaders because they seemed more encouraged; a leader is more fun than a cone. As each child finishes have them raise their arms so you know when their whole group is done. The kids always wanted to do another relay so they could do better than before.

Dealing with a big group isn’t always hard. It can be accomplished with structure and a positive atmosphere.