Watch these happy people learn about team work as they compete during their school’s sports day.
Leadership in Sport
To really get the most out of sport education it is important to teach it in the appropriate way. When trying to teach leadership skills, martial arts have been shown to be quite efficacious. However the martial arts must be taught in the correct way. When the sport is taught with a philosophy of respect, patience, honor and responsibility, students exhibited a decreased amount of delinquency. When martial arts was taught with an emphasis on self-defense and free sparring, the positive effect of decreased delinquency was not seen.
Attitudes Towards School
Studies have shown that when sports education is introduced into schools, attendance goes up. However, students react differently to sports activities that are recreational versus those that are more competitive. In some situations sports can keep students away from school if the thrust is too competitive.
Among those students who are most likely to feel excluded from school and would have a tendency to stay away, the availability of sports in school, in addition to well-placed school furniture, can contribute to improved attendance among the at-risk population. Sports activities in school can often be a happy way to draw children and young people towards better attendance in school.
However, there are studies that show that over doing competitive youth sport can be a turn-off to some students. On the other hand there are many cases in which coaches, and sometimes parents too, push young athletes to drop their studies so they can dedicate all of their time to sports. Unfortunately this behavior is not rare.
Despite the concrete evidence that children need physical education to develop holistically, many countries around the world have limited or eliminated the physical education components of their curriculum. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has identified sport and play as fundamental for a proper education and is part of the human right to optimum development that all children all over the world are entitled to.
Many countries believe that as long as they are providing an appropriate school setting, with classroom furniture in good repair, a teacher, and school desks, they have done their job. But this is not the case. Physical education is crucial, but it is being challenged as a value in the following ways:
• The amount of time allotted to physical education is being reduced
• The number of trained staff dedicated to physical education is in decline
• The amount of time and resources allotted to train physical education teachers is being reduced, with the amount of money used for other aspects of physical education programs being slashed.
According to UNICEF the past ten years has not seen much improvement in the attention school sports has received, but there are efforts being made to help children get involved in sports, whether it is in the school setting or in the community in sport programs outside of school.
All educators agree today that students need to get out of their school chairs frequently to increase their ability to absorb more information when they are sitting at their school desks. It has been proven scientifically that physical activity is essential to the holistic development of youth. Not only is physical health fostered, but so is the social and emotional health of children who are engaged in rigorous activity.
So what is so special about sport in school? There is no question that children learn a lot while engaged in sports activities. Students improve their motor skills development, performance and educational potential. There is a strong correlation between physical activities and psychosocial development.
In addition, recent research has revealed that play is the most important way children learn when they are beginning their educational careers. Play is a basic foundation for development; it is the way they learn new skills. Physical education and sport only add to this concept of play as a vehicle for learning. Sports activities also help children develop a long list of values and social skills, including:
• Respect-for others and for themselves
• Understanding rules and adhering to them
When you create a sports program in the school, there are bound to be some students who are better athletes than others. This can cause some kids to feel bad about themselves and their ability level and to, perhaps, eventually give up on enjoying sports. There are easy ways, however, to help each child to feel better about himself and his own abilities on the field. And this can translate to all areas of his life, allowing him to enjoy sports in school, sports after sitting in church with the church furniture, sports in the afternoon, and more.
First, encourage children to break their own records and to push themselves as individuals. If you are having students run laps, for instance, and you want to encourage them to run faster each week, make sure that they are measuring themselves only against themselves. So, rather than having all kids run at the same time, and measuring how they did against each other, have them record their own times and only measure how they did on their own. Continually explain to the kids that they want to challenge themselves and continually improve themselves – regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Encouraging teamwork can have a large impact on self-confidence. Create games and sports activities during the day that require teamwork. It isn’t about which team won the basketball game; rather it’s about which team had the most passes during the game or which team encouraged each other the loudest. Obviously, sometimes you’ll want the students to play a basketball game with a score and with a winner and loser. But as the kids are learning, you can create opportunities for sportsmanship and teamwork and reward those who demonstrate these skills.
Sports is one vehicle for raising the self confidence level of children. Aside from the obvious health benefits that come from physical activity, there are many psychological benefits. But there can also be psychologically detrimental consequences to a school sports program that is not done correctly. Learning how to encourage children to measure personal successes and to participate in teamwork can have a lasting influence on them as they grow.
One of the most important aspects of the sports program at any school is to help kids to love sports. If kids learn to dread sports class in school, it may turn them off to physical activity in their lives and this can have detrimental consequences for their health and wellbeing.
How can a sports teacher make sure to help her students to love sports? Certainly, getting them away from the school furniture and on to the soccer field is a beginning, but then you have to help students to want to stay there. Here are some ways.
Keep the competition down: While some students love to be competitive, others will find this competitive nature intimidating. It’s important to help children to enjoy physical activities without feeling like they are always competing.
Vary the activities: Some children are far more coordinated than others. If you always do activities that require balance or stamina, some children will feel frustrated and left behind. Try to keep activities to brief lengths of time (20 minutes perhaps) and if you do an activity that requires a lot of coordination, make sure the next activity doesn’t require this skill.
Don’t let students pick their teams: Everyone knows the story about the child who gets picked last for the school team. Do not let your students select their teammates based on friendships or ability. It is best for the coach to be the one who selects the teams and for the teams to be kept as balanced as possible.
These are a few suggestions that will help you to get your students to love physical activity and to enjoy this aspect of their day both in and out of the school yard.
According to Richard D. Ginsburg, PhD in Psychology in Sport, “While there are certainly many wonderful youth athletic leagues and teams around our country, there is an ugliness gaining momentum in our youth sport culture. Tryouts and travel teams are cropping up earlier than ever before. My son, who is an eight-year-old second grader, had to decide whether or not he wanted to try out for the travel soccer team. Really? This is when my son needs to decide whether he is going to be “serious” about soccer – otherwise, he may miss the boat? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?”
Read more about what he has to say on the subject at: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2ioXCP/:2rxybmCH:h2_!UItS/www.psychologytoday.com/blog/just-listen/200911/10-habits-happy-couples/
Children that move to the United States from other countries are consistently surprised about one unique feature of the American school system, the importance school sports plays in the lives of students here. As one student who moved here from South Korea explained:
“Sports are a big deal here.”
She is talking about her New Jersey high school, Shawnee High. This school, which is typical, has 18 different sports teams, including golf and bowling. They have six tennis courts, beautiful grassy fields, and even a Hall of Fame.
“They have days when teams dress up in Hawaiian clothes or pajamas just because—‘We’re the soccer team!’?” she says.
In comparison, students in South Korea spend a lot more time sitting at their school desks, and it shows. Fifteen-year-olds there rank fourth in the world on a test of critical thinking in math. What do they do for sports? They play soccer on a dirt field during their lunch break. Sometimes they bring badminton rackets from home and fake the existence of a net.
The romance US schools have with sports is almost non-existent in other countries around the world. Yet somehow this huge difference rarely comes up in the debate on how to get our schools’ up to par with the rest of the world. The US ranks 31st on that same critical thinking math test mentioned above. Yes, there are certainly other challenges affecting the academic environment such as poorly trained teachers and poverty. But what about this other huge difference? Is the fascination with sports here in the US sending the wrong message to our children about what school is really for in the first place?