Kindergarten teacher David Flores has discovered an effective method to integrate sports into academics for young children through “Soccer Little.”
“Soccer Little” is a unique program founded by Flores to incorporate the game of soccer into the process of learning for children from Pre-K through second grade. The program cultivates an exciting way to take lessons learned inside the classroom and apply them on the soccer field.
“It’s very interactive and the kids have fun,” Flores says. “They don’t even realize they are learning. Whenever you are able to tap into their competitive side and include it with something that is fun, they will do anything to learn and win because of the competitive side within them.”
When approaching lesson plans, Flores makes two versions – one for inside the classroom and one to take to the soccer field. Lessons taught in the classroom are applied and reinforced through Soccer Little. Thus, students learn math, language arts, geography and other subjects through a variety of fun and interesting ways.
Flores is a full-time teacher at La Academia de Estrellas in Oak Cliff, a borough of Dallas, Texas. As a former collegiate soccer player, the game of soccer has played a vital role in his life from building character to his own academic success through athletic scholarships. As he began to gain more experience as an educator, he looked for ways to incorporate different methods of teaching to accommodate the visual learning style of young children. Through this endeavor, Flores discovered that soccer could be an effective teaching method.
Flores began studying the curriculum, looking for innovative ways to convey the same principles on the soccer field. He initially began creating stories and visuals. “It would be very engaging for them. These kids have an imagination. You just have to set it in motion.”
He used the soccer field to demonstrate geography. “When they were in-bounds, I told them you are on an island and you are surrounded by sharks. This way, they learned to stay in-bounds which is difficult for a 5-year-old to do.” From that point, Flores used the opportunity to quiz the students on different geographical terms. Over time, he began using props to foster the visual learning style of children and bring in different academic subjects.
Flores believes the program not only effectively ties in classroom learning but builds character. Soccer teaches the importance of working together and sharing to accomplish a goal. “At this point, these kids are very egocentric. They do not like to share. When it’s time to play, there is only one ball on the field and they do not want to pass.”
Flores is in the process of completing a small informational book, “My First Soccer Game.” It teaches the rules and principles of soccer along with the value of competition to children. Flores stresses the importance of not pouting to children when they do not get their way along with respecting your teammates and competitors on the field.
The curriculum for “Soccer Little” underwent two months of trials before its official launch in March of 2017. It complies with requirements from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The program is held after school and during recess. There are also “Soccer Little” educational camps.
Flores attended and played soccer at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU). He believes his time at SAGU plays a significant role in his faith and in his career as an educator.
“My faith didn’t really start to develop until I came to SAGU. I would go to church to satisfy my parents. When I went there (SAGU), I really started to develop a relationship with Christ. I already had a love for the game (soccer) and I wanted to use my gifts and love for soccer and teaching to share the gospel.”
Along with his own spiritual well-being, his transformation as a believer is reflected in the way he approaches his career.
“I may not say it out loud when I am doing Soccer Little but it is clearly seen by the way the kids are being treated and coached – with a lot of love and patience and passion.”