Little Olympics: Preschoolers compete in various sporting events

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

SUGAR HILL -- Timothy Swindle donned skis Wednesday afternoon and prepared for his event.

As he set out on the giant slalom skiing course, spectators cheered him on.

But this event wasn't taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was happening in the gym at T. Carl Buice School in Sugar Hill.

Wearing a helmet and skis crafted from cardboard, Timothy and his preschool classmates shuffled through the gates on the course. Giant slalom is an alpine skiing discipline that involves skiing through sets of poles.

Buice School, which serves preschool children, has designed a week of Olympic activities that teach students academic and life skills, said Kim Holland, the school's principal.

"Our kids really learn best through background knowledge," Holland said. "We're using what's going on right now ... and teaching content and skills through life events. And it's fun. The kids are having a great time learning things through the Olympics."

Each classroom has adopted a country participating in the Olympics, and the students track the number of medals each country has earned. Every day, the classes must update their medal counts, adding pictures of medallions to a chart that tracks the countries' progress.

The events also build character traits, such as teamwork, Holland said.

"They're learning to cheer each other on, even though they're competing," she said.

Aiden Lane, 4, said he thought the ice skating event was fun.

"Because everyone does it," he said.

Aiden said he also enjoyed the ski jumping event, where students were instructed to lean back and jump up.

Buice School will have a closing ceremony for its Olympics on Friday.

The Gwinnett County public school teaches students in both regular and special education in collaborative classrooms.

The students in special education can receive services from the school system starting at age 3, and the school district has a cooperative agreement with the Ninth District Opportunity to serve students in the Head Start and Georgia Pre-K programs.