July 4, 2016
Sports clubs can be a huge commitment for parents and child carers. From the interminable hours of watching and waiting, to the endless journeys, back and forth, ferrying children around from one venue to the next—and don’t even get me started on the weather! Many of us dream of raising the next Bobby Charlton or Jessica Ennis-Hill; but the reality is, few of us are ever likely to succeed. So, are these selfless sporting sacrifices all in vain? Fortunately, the benefits of organised sport go way beyond the track and field.
Children love to run around; and exercise, as we all know, is good for their physical health. In this respect, sport is no different. However, sport has the additional benefit of developing physical competencies and skills that nobody (not even Lionel Messi!) is born with. This, in itself, is an important achievement. However, competence is just one of several qualities (often referred to as the five Cs) that are nurtured and developed by sport: the others being confidence, character, connection and caring.
Through sport, children learn how to engage in positive relationships with their peers and with adults. They also learn how to regulate their behaviour and, by learning to lose, can develop psychological resilience—which can help them cope with other setbacks in everyday life. Sport can also help protect children against social isolation and improve their perceptions of self-worth. Perhaps most surprisingly, however, there is also mounting evidence to suggest that organised sport can help improve academic achievement. For example, in a recent study in the UK, children participating in organised sports (aged of 5, 7 and 11) were more likely, than their unsporting peers, to gain higher than predicted maths grades at Key Stage 2. This academic achievement, along with the other benefits of sport, may offer some consolation to many dedicated parents and child carers. Although sporting success may be elusive, at least their children should be confident and caring—and, hopefully, pretty good at maths!
Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016