As principals, teachers, coaches and parents we all have a responsibility to ensure that we create the right sporting environment for our Grade R to Grade 7 children. Sport is a great vehicle for learning, provides many health benefits and is a wonderful outdoor classroom for all children.
The following aspects need to be considered if we want children, from all schools to benefit.
- An enjoyable and fun learning experience should be created rather than a win at all costs experience.
- Through sporting activities, we should aim to develop our children’s character, good habits and values, a growth-mindset and valuable techniques that will aid long term success, enjoyment and participation.
- It is essential that we develop the complete child and never just their skill or talent. Good sportsmanship, resilience, determination, collaboration, sound decision-making and thinking skills are essential life skills that need to be developed in our children, through sport.
- The way talent is identified, or teams are selected always needs to be carefully considered. It is important that all children are given a fair opportunity to participate and are not excluded unnecessarily, at a young age.
Sports coaches/teachers should never underestimate how important their role is.
- Enthusiasm and positivity are vital. Coaches need to know their children’s names and always show an interest in the wellbeing of all participants.
- The environment that is created within a team is critical. Coaches need to build good relationships and ensure that every child has a sense of belonging and knows that they are important.
- Progress is important as every child needs to be helped, inspired and supported to reach a different level.
- Mistakes must be regarded as a learning opportunity and not as a negative. Focus on effort and attitude and praise pupils in a group situation. Talk to a child individually, if there is a concern that needs to be addressed. It is most important that the child knows that you still believe in them.
Some points for parents to consider at sports events.
- The enjoyment and benefits of participating in an activity should be more important than the result. At some stage, children will have to deal with accepting all result outcomes. Whatever the result, there are always valuable life lessons that a child gains from the experience.
- 2. Be present whenever possible. Children love to know that you are there to support them.
- Regardless of your child’s ability or performance, be aware of your body language and be supportive even when they make mistakes.
- Show appreciation of good play by all players, from both teams.
- Be respectful and don’t ridicule or applaud when a player, from either team, makes a mistake.
- When a coach is having a team talk, don’t hover around the players. This is the coach’s time.
- Be a good role model and don’t make derogatory comments about an official, a player or another school.
- Encouraging comments are always appreciated but don’t shout comments that, embarrass your child or another child or, confuse players.
- Children play sport for the enjoyment. Any unnecessary pressure will rob them of that enjoyment.
- 10. It’s always important to tell your child how much you loved watching them play.
The benefits of sport have the potential to have a positive and lifelong impact on our children. As parents, teachers and coaches we should never underestimate the important role that we play.
Alan Angel Principal