According to a recent survey by The Guardian, 68% of UK adults do not know the official NHS guidelines for how much daily exercise a child needs. Do you know? Well actually…children aged 5 to 18 should be doing at least an hour of exercise every day. Is your child? So what’s the big deal if they are not? Well let’s look at some of the top benefits.
Health- The health of our children is incredibly important with growing levels of obesity and the temptation to stay indoors greater than ever. Making sure children have dedicated time where they are active, exercising and enjoying being outdoors is essential to keeping them healthy.
Respect for Rules- When playing sports it’s essential that the children understand the rules and play by them. Learning this in a fun environment and understanding that the rules are there to keep the game fair and safe is a valuable lesson that every child can benefit from. It can also be a great influence in school and in life, and respect for rules and learning to play by them can be great for children with behavioural problems too.
Social Skills- Friendships are so important in childhood and some find it easier than others. Taking part in primary and secondary school sports can be a great way for children to form friendships and build relationships with their peers. In a sports team, everyone has a part to play, and even the quietest, shyest child can get involved and be part of the group. Social skills like listening, being kind and looking after your friends can all be learned by taking part in sports classes. From chatting before a game to getting to know who is good at what, taking part in competitive sports is great for building children’s social skills.
Physical Development- Taking part in regular sports activities has been shown to be brilliant for children’s physical development too. Building healthy muscles, engaging in cardiovascular exercise and burning calories are all essential in children’s physical development. By enjoying regular exercise, children can grow stronger and healthier in a fun, safe environment.
Confidence- Competitive sports can be brilliant for building children’s confidence. From team mates telling them they’ve done a great job to accepting new challenges and accomplishing goals, competitive sports can be a real boost to self esteem. For children who love sports, taking part in sports classes can be a great way to feel a sense of pride in their achievements and grow in confidence.
Learning to Lose- No matter how great a child is at sports, at some point they will experience losing, and by taking part in competitive sports classes they can learn to handle this in a safe, supportive environment. Learning to cope with failure is a lesson that can be essential in later life, from missing academic goals, to not getting a job interview. By learning that it’s okay to lose and being gracious and controlling emotions, they can develop their tolerance to stress and develop their character. Children can learn to congratulate the winners and think about how they can improve next time without taking it as a personal failure.
Teamwork- Teamwork is one of the most important skills people look for when hiring new staff and competitive sports is a great example of how an individual works in a team. Though that may be many years away, learning to be part of a team at a young age is the way to start. By recognising the skills of others, supporting their teammates and encouraging each other, competitive sports are great for developing children’s understanding of what it means to be a team. For certain children, becoming captain or leading a team can be a great way to discover their leadership qualities, and learning to manage and organise a team as well as being part of one.
And on that note…I’m off to a pilates class!