The Importance of Sports in Primary School
School Sports Day is a great opportunity to encourage all pupils to be enthusiastic about sports, even the non-athletically inclined. The importance of sports in primary school cannot be underestimated, and getting kids involved in sports at a young age can make them healthier and happier too.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the many benefits of school sports and discover some great ideas for your school sports day this year.
Playing sports can make you stronger and healthier, as well as contributing to lower obesity rates. Currently, one in three UK children leaves primary school obese or overweight.
Athletes tend to have lower body mass indexes, but non-athlete participants will still benefit from developing muscles and burning calories. Long-term, active people tend to have lower rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercising regularly through sports programs could also contribute to better heart and lung function.
Learning to play sports as a child might carry over into being a more active adult; some sports tend to have a more lasting impact from childhood into adulthood, for example, football and hockey.
As well as increasing stamina and strength, regular exercise can make children more energetic, and therefore more able to concentrate in the classroom.
According to the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK; ‘Physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce depression and anxiety in children. We also know that physical activity performed in an outdoor space can improve cognitive performance, self-esteem and reduce anxiety and symptoms related to attention deficit disorder.’
Sport England agrees; ‘The benefits of sport and physical activity on our mental health are endless: improved mood, decreased chance of depression and anxiety, and a better and more balanced lifestyle … Any kind of physical activity can boost mental wellbeing – from swimming to walking and yoga to dance.’
This means that even pupils who aren’t competitive and don’t enjoy traditional school sports, can get involved and take part in physical activity, leading to potential improvements in physical and mental wellbeing. Why not provide some lunchtime taster sessions for activities such as yoga, dance and quidditch?
The importance of sports can also be seen in improving learning and development. As mentioned above, taking part in regular physical exercise can give pupils more energy and therefore more likely to concentrate on classroom learning.
The Novak Djokovic Foundation also emphasizes the importance of sports for children, stating benefits such as:
• Kids’ character and moral principles are formed through fair play. Moreover, children who are actively engaged in sports can be good role models for their peers from school and their communities.
• Playing sports enables them to create friendships they otherwise might not have formed. For example, the friendships professional athletes create on the field remain intact even when they are not playing sports, and often last a lifetime.
• Sports bring people together from all over the world, regardless of their nationality, religion, culture, or skin colour.
• Teamwork and benefits of social interaction among children are best seen in sports. Kids learn they are part of a team that requires the same effort from all members to succeed, as well as how to win with class, and lose with dignity.
• They view competitions on and off the field as opportunities to learn from their success and failure. In addition, losing often motivates kids to work even harder next time.
• They learn to respect authority, rules, team colleagues and opponents.
Schools sports days are ideal for highlighting the importance of teamwork and taking part, even if the activities are outside of some pupils’ comfort zones. In the run-up to your sports day, you could use your P.E. lessons to get pupils to set personal bests for the events that you will be running at your event. This gives pupils an achievable goal to aim for on Sports Day so that even those who aren’t athletic can feel the success of setting a faster time than their previous ones.
You can also tie Sports Day into Growth Mindset; encouraging pupils who have not achieved what they hoped to, to learn from a potentially negative experience and use it to progress in the future.
Fun Ideas for Your School Sports Day
Last year we created some great ideas for a funtastic School Sports Day. You can read the full article here. We’ve added our top three below:
Fun at the Seaside
On a 50 metre running track, you will need to lay out a rubber ring for each pupil on the 10 metre line, a pair of armbands each on the 20 metre line, a mask and snorkel each on the 30 metre line and a beach ball on the 40 metre line. Each child should start the race wearing a pair of flippers and collect and put on each of the additional items as they run. Hopefully this will lead to a lot of laughter for the spectators.
Another task that requires good teamwork; in pairs pupils must get a balloon to the end of a 50 metre track by squashing it between their chests or tummies. They must not use their hands or feet to move the balloon and if they drop it they will have to go back to the beginning.
Bucket Head Challenge
This race is perfect for a hot summer day. Each pupil needs to hold a bucket of water on their head whilst completing a tricky obstacle course, including going over hurdles, jumping through hoops and limboing under horizontal poles. The winner is NOT the person who completes the course the quickest but the pupil who has the most water left in their bucket at the end.
The PTS Mindfulness Guide – Earlier this year we serialised our mindfulness series in five handy blog posts. We have now collected them all together into the PTS Mindfulness Guide, which you can download in PDF format here.
10 Tips for Reducing Teacher Workload – Whilst we all know how to manage our time, sometimes we slip into bad habits or feel completely overwhelmed by our teacher workload, especially in the final term when all of our new school year resolutions seem like a distant memory. So here is a quick run-through of 10 key areas to look at if you’re struggling to fit everything in.
Improved Health and Fitness = Improved Attendance – Improving the health and fitness of pupils has been proven to increase attendance levels. Currently, one in three children leaves primary school obese or overweight. This could potentially be changed with the help of both teachers and parents by educating children on how to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Find out more here.