This is a topic close to my heart. I am a firm advocate in encouraging children to participate in sports, whether in school or out of school. Sport is such a great way to encourage, motivate and teach resilience to children, never mind the more obvious health and wellbeing benefits that participating in sports can bring. This guest post explores some of the benefits of sports in schools, with a bit of my own commentary added in, as always. You know I can’t resist.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post that I’ve been compensated for sharing but includes many of my own personal commentary, thoughts and opinions.
What are the benefits of Sports in Schools?
PE lessons are obviously a great way to ensure children get enough weekly exercise and take a break from sitting at a desk all day at school. Still, there are also various other benefits of sports in schools that you may not have considered. An international school in Somerset explore these benefits in more detail below.
Many sports are played in teams, such as netball (my girls both love netball), hockey, football, rounders, or cricket, which gives students a chance to interact with their peers differently from a traditional lesson. Teamwork is an important skill that will even benefit them when they grow up and start working. Communicating with others in a way that helps them achieve a common goal is also great for their confidence and may even allow them to make friends with people they might not have otherwise socialised with.
The Mental Health Benefits of Sports
Being physically active is great for fitness, but it can also reduce stress and boost the release of ‘feel good’ hormones, especially when coupled with the fresh air of the great outdoors. With that said, sports are great for helping students battle anxiety and the pressures of school life, such as exams, homework or even friendship problems. It can act as an outlet for various uncomfortable emotions, and students can return to the classroom feeling refreshed and alert.
Sports Teaches Discipline
Becoming better at a particular sport takes determination and discipline. Students must take direction from their teacher/coach, follow the rules, and respect their peers, even their opponents. This also helps teach children about healthy competition; how to win with humility and lose with grace. As you can see, I’ve been an advocate of competition for kids – just read the post below.
Most schools explore a variety of different sports, from gymnastics to athletics and swimming. Some require specialist sports equipment such as badminton which requires badminton shoes, or football which requires football boots. However, it’s a small price to pay. Playing sports allows them to potentially find something they’re passionate about that they can pursue outside of school as an extracurricular activity. Even if they’re not particularly fond of PE, they are still allowed to develop various skills, as discussed above. So, while you may not necessarily consider PE to be an important subject compared with English or STEM subjects, it is actually very beneficial for students and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Me now … on the benefits of sports in schools
I read a worrying statistic the other day; it said that most children, girls, in particular, stop doing sports by age 14. In an article by Youth Sport Trust entitled ‘Key Findings From Girls Active Survey’ dated November 2017, there are many statistics to review, all aimed at understanding why girls in particular drop out of sports so young, and usually a lot sooner than boys do.
The report asks several different questions of the girls, but the one that sticks out the most to me is about issues with Body-Confidence and Self-confidence. Honestly, these answers make my mummy heart very sad. But they remind me of what it felt like to be a 15-year-old girl … doing sport at a co-ed school. And I get it.
Look, I don’t have the answers, but if we can all focus on the benefits and somehow drill it into the psyche that it’s worth it, hopefully, we can fix this self-destructive mindset.
I really believe that keeping children (boys and girls) in sports in school has huge benefits, and certainly, the benefits of sports in schools outweigh the obvious blockages.
However, there is one less obvious reason and benefit of sports IN schools, and that is that if the schools offer the sports, then the parents of the children don’t have to pay additional fees to send their willing children to sports outside of schools. Yes, attending sports and out of school clubs also has its own benefits, but in a lot of cases, if parents have to pay for their children to attend out of school clubs and sports, it can be financially difficult and sometimes parents can’t afford this. Keeping kids doing sports in schools helps to keep more kids active for longer.