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The Importance of Sports in Education

While many subjects at school are taught primarily in the classroom, sports and physical education provide a great opportunity for children to head outside, get active, and focus on developing different skills.

The benefits of sports in education are vast, and they aren’t just physical benefits. This article explores how sport positively impacts students in their academic progression and beyond.

Boys compete in tug of war

Benefits of Physical Education 

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll see develop in your child as they do more physical activity and sports.

1. Stay Fit and Healthy

Fundamentally, physical education can have a range of health-related benefits to anyone, and children are no different. Kids are bundles of endless energy, and physical education can be an excellent outlet for releasing some of that.

As we all know, exercise is an excellent way to increase fitness levels and remain healthy. For children with limited means to exercise outside of school, their physical education class is vital to their overall health. As we detail below, this in turns feeds into every aspect of their lives.

2. Boost Self-Esteem

Sport is all about success, achievement, teamwork and friendly competition. Physical Education (PE) teachers are trained to harness the fun and natural competitiveness of sport to help pupils enjoy games together so that they get exercise, learn how to play cooperatively and develop self-esteem. Everything from small words of encouragement from the coach to scoring the winning goal for their team can help build your child’s confidence. Strong self-esteem is a vital character trait for children to develop. The spirit and tenacity instilled in them from sport can be carried into their wider academic pathway.

3. Reduce Stress

Exercise is one of the best stress-busters around. Research has shown how remaining active can reduce symptoms of stress in children. If studies from other subjects are putting excessive pressure on your child, physical education will be one of the best ways for them to reduce this. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which are key feel-good transmitters for the mind and body. It’s also one of the best ways of forgetting about any external troubles. Sport focuses our mind on the task at hand, allowing us to relax and forget about other worries.

4. Improve Sleep  

After using up all that energy running around the sports field during the day, our bodies and minds tire in the evening. Sleep is a vital part of maintaining our overall health and wellbeing and plays an important role in our mood and performance during the day.

Sleep is known to reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mood and boost our ability to concentrate. The Sleep Foundation found a direct correlation between better school performances and earlier bedtimes or longer sleep.

One of the best ways your child can get the sleep they need is through an appropriate amount of sport and exercise in school through their PE class.

5. Develop Team and Leadership Skills 

Any successful team is made up of individuals who can work with others. Teamwork is a vital skill in the working world, and physical education is often the earliest exposure children have to it.

Many sports teams espouse the importance of the team over the individual. Your child will be able to contribute to a team environment and see first-hand how important it is to succeed.

As they develop, they might also be exposed to a leadership position, such as the team captain. Decision making is key to being a good leader. Sports are an excellent channel for improving this skill, with decisions having to be made and communicated regularly to other team members.

In the working world, knowing how to fit into a team environment is one of the first things employers will look for. As they progress, their experience leading teams will also be critical to working their way up the employment ladder.

6. Instil Patience, Discipline and Perseverance   

Failure is an undervalued part of sport. It takes perseverance and hard work to succeed in life, and sport is one of the best channels to display these virtues. The simplistic nature of sport, where there are identifiable winners and losers, leads to natural highs and lows – something that children need to be prepared for later in life.

Sport is a great way to display how hard work pays. Perseverance and a never-give-up attitude will be needed to succeed in all walks of life. Through sports your child will learn the benefits of working hard to achieve their goals.

Girl participates in boxing at school

Impact of Sports on Learning

The positive impact of sport stretches far beyond the physical. Exercise and sporting activity can have significant knock-on effects on other areas of a child’s academic performance.

Engaging a child in their work is one of the biggest challenges a schoolteacher is presented with. A study from VU University in the Netherlands showed how exercising can improve the attention span of school pupils, and a report from the Pediatrics Journal showed how students who exercise after school can improve their executive control.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory. A study published in the Brain Research journal found that regular exercise helped to grow this part of the brain. Consistent cardiovascular-based exercise is therefore linked to better brain functionality and improved memory.

Adding to sharper brains and a better capacity to retain information, studies have also discovered how our creativity is boosted by simple exercises such as leisurely walking. Specifically, the experiment by Stanford University found an improvement in divergent thinking, which is concerned with out-of-the-box idea creation rather than identifying a correct answer to a question.

Put all the above together, and you have children that are much more capable to achieve in the classroom – something which is supported by science. The University of Illinois found a strong relationship between the fitness of children and their performance academically.

Physical education is an integral part of any child’s education. To see how a Nord Anglia Education school near you harnesses the benefits of physical education to develop your child, head to our schools page.

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