The majority of children need to be doing more sport. From a young age, children need to get into a routine of doing daily and weekly sporting activities. While P.E. lessons are a good start, more needs to be done outside of school to make sure children are getting the necessary amount of exercise. If we don’t start encouraging children now, we are putting their future mental and physical health at serious risk.
As well as asking ourselves why we need to be thinking about how we can do this. Unfortunately, some students face barriers to doing extracurricular sport. We need to try and break down these barriers and do whatever we can to inspire children to get active. Better Physical and Mental Health
Despite the government putting in place a plan of action against the obesity crisis, more needs to be done to tackle the issue. The plan of action explains that children need to be doing more physical activity every day to stay healthy and help reduce the chance of obesity.
The benefits of sport to physical health are evident. The NHS outline that children require 60 minutes of physical activity every day to stay healthy. Activities such as rugby, hockey, football and netball are all excellent ways for children to get their daily exercise.
While the physical benefits of sport are evident, the mental and emotional benefits are also critically important. In a recent study by Swim England, it was discovered that swimming helps children develop physical, cognitive and social skills. Research also shows that children who are physically active are less depressed. These kinds of benefits should not be underrated and continue to demonstrate why an increase in youth sport needs to be addressed.
Transferable Skills for the Future
Employers are often looking for more than just qualifications and grades. Many of the skills learnt from participating in sports are also valued by companies. When applying for a job, demonstrating that you are part of a sports team or club can go a long way. These can easily be transferred to the workplace. Sport is also known to help create the best leaders.
Motivating a group of people and pulling a team together for the overall good is an excellent quality for a leader.
Time Away from Screens
There is a mixture of information and data about how much time children should spend looking at screens. Smartphones and tablets are still relatively new, meaning that long-term studies are minimal at the moment.
However, what we do know is that reducing screen-time is beneficial in terms of social impact. Children need to interact face to face. This is more important than ever given the increase in technology. Sport is a great way to get children away from the screen and to encourage face to face communication.
How Can you Encourage Students to Participate in Sport?
While debates continue about how much is too much extracurricular activity, I’m sure we all know students that need to do more. However, one of the biggest factors holding students back is the cost. The struggle for parents to pay for activities is real. The cost is still a huge barrier for many young people to participate in sport. As well as the costs, some children might be unenthusiastic or uninterested, particularly if they feel more confident in academic subjects. Identifying the children who need extra encouragement to take part in sports is the first step. Make it a priority to talk to these students and try to change their mentality about sport.
Here are a few ways for teachers to boost children’s engagement in extracurricular sports.
Highlight the Social Aspects
Participating in group sports is an excellent way for children to make new friends. Joining a club or doing extracurricular sport can open up new avenues for socialising.
Do you have fun stories or anecdotes from playing a sport? Share these with the children. Set a good example by showing that you also participate in sport. This highlights just how important it is and can inspire children.
Try New Sports
There is a limit to how many sports are done in school due to equipment and knowledge. Try and scope out sports clubs in the local area which children may not have tried before. Fencing, judo or synchronised swimming could appeal to some students.
Show the Possibilities
Sport opens up amazing avenues for working and travelling the world. Sports tours to various countries are exciting for children and are one of the many perks of participating.
John O’Leary is a Director of miTour, offering tours for sports teams, clubs and schools. Visiting Europe and further afield, John wants to make sports fun and exciting for all children.