By Stan Moore
It’s around this time of the year that many schools begin to ease out of the stressful academic year and exam season by having students participate in fun activities like summer fetes and sports days.
There’s been plenty of conversation around the competitive nature of sports days, with progressive education practitioners campaigning for it to be stamped out. On one hand, sports days put lots of children at a disadvantage with the focus of physical ability rather than creativity or problem-solving skills.
As Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.
Having said this, competition is a pivotal part in any child’s growth, a part of the school system that comprises the ‘hidden curriculum’ area of learning. It focuses less on academic development, and more on personal and social development.
Competition is a necessary part of life. For some it starts when we compete to attend the best secondary schools, universities and eventually, careers. Should we not begin to teach competitiveness at a young age to prepare students for life after education where ‘taking part’ simply isn’t enough?
An Ofsted report found that in the most successful schools, both state and private, headteachers recognise that competitive sport can help build a positive ethos and boost grades.
So, what are the pros of hosting competitions in schools?
Firstly, it teaches children that cheaters never prosper, highlighting the importance of playing by the rules and reinforces the idea that cheating comes with consequences.
Secondly, it teaches us how to accept defeat gracefully. Unfortunately, you cannot always win, but what’s important is how you learn from your loss and apply it. Learning these lessons at a young age allows children to manage expectations, something that could benefit them later in life. Learning how to be a good winner is also a major social lesson, without which, could lead to awkward social encounters, especially when moving into secondary education.
Activities such as these also have been found to have a positive impact on academic prowess. A study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in August, 2007 found that students who were active in sports like soccer, American football and even skateboarding performed 10 percent better in core subjects like maths, science, social studies and language arts.
Goal-setting and team work
Competition is also a great way to set yourself goals. Though using this in a sports context, this is important for many areas of life such as improving grades and work ethic.
Many reports have also highlighted the necessity of sport and physical activities to mental wellbeing of young people. The Youth Sport Trust says Physical Education can be used to raise the self-esteem of young people and give them confidence.
Learning how to work within a team is a skill we need to learn at a young age to make sure school work and our professional lives are successful. Sports activities such as relay races and tug-of-war show that sometimes you need teammates and peers to be successful!
On a final note, we should not overlook the fact that encouraging children to partake in sport can help to reduce the risk of many physical problems such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. These are issues that schools can help overcome through physical education and participation in sports day creates motivation for children to improve their health and fitness.
We’re firmly behind schools hosting competitive sports days and believe the traits developed are incredibly important for children. Besides, without sports days, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to witness heart-warming moments like this.
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