Balancing Sports and Academics
Vacation time brings images of kids playing, running around, having fun all day – and somewhere there is an expectation that therefore during summer, children have more than enough physical activity. But, is it really so? As a teacher, how can you enthuse children to take up sports activities, shows Saumil Majmudar, Co-Founder & CEO, Edusports, India’s leading school sports and physical education company.
With the advent of television, multiplexes, playstations and of course the internet, kids have fewer reasons to step out of their houses and into playing grounds. Vacations now don’t stand for an evening of football or running across the neighbourhood. This has been replaced by sports enthusiasts who occupy the couch in front of the television. And so, while sports viewership has been growing at a healthy rate in India, the same cannot be said about the amount of physical activity been undertaken, especially by children.
A study conducted by Edusports, found that the health and fitness levels of children post summer holidays displayed a sharp decline as compared to fitness levels at the end of the previous academic year. Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits accompanied by lack of exercise reduced the sporting ability of children, especially during the summer holidays.
Assessing children’s activities…
So how can a teacher assess whether the students have been active in the vacations? Assessing children on this is important, but ensuring that children get play opportunities is paramount. Pre-vacation assessment must be done and compared with the post-vacation assessment, which should include aerobic fitness and flexibility tests – parameters which quickly give an idea of the level of fitness of a child.
Types of children
and how to encourage them…
In sports, like art, craft or dance, there will be children of these types: Talented and interested: It is a small group of children, usually the ones to make it to school teams and further. It is important for them to play with other children as well, since they learn skills of leadership, co-operation, etc. They should be part of a focussed academy for excellence in sports and should undergo rigorous assessment for continuous improvement.
Talented and not interested: It is important not to push them for playing and performing in a sport as it could lead to even lower interest levels. For them, sports sessions need to be made more interesting by including life-skill sessions, exciting drills, project work, etc. The idea is to make the programme more than just playing sport on the field. Not talented and interested: Probably the biggest chunk of children falls in this segment.
It is important to provide them an inclusive programme, wherein classes should involve all children. Team formation is of prime importance taking into account sports proficiency and they should be included in tournaments/leagues and thus, provide opportunities for all children to play competitively.
Not talented and not interested:
We can find a huge segment of children in this segment (usually higher percentage of girls is seen in most schools). It is important to develop interest, as children lose interest because they don’t perform well and it becomes a vicious cycle. It is important to ensure fundamental skill building to equip children with skills to participate in sports activities. Make the students part of a larger group of children and interest levels are bound to rise. Besides, innovative games or sessions should be led by the teachers.
Motivating children to play…
As recommended by most of the specialists in the field of Physical Education, every child should have at least 60 minutes of structured play time every day. This adds up to minimum 7 hours per week. Here are a few tips to make sports more interesting:
– Make activities, props and equipment age appropriate.
– Identify the level of skills and give appropriate challenges.
– Give positive feedback even for the slightest improvement.
– Include fun based drills.
– Make activities competitive.
Saumil Majmudar (Co- Founder & CEO, Edusports) – alumnus of IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore, was a part of the Maharashtra Badminton team & the IIT Bombay Football team. As Founder-Director of SportzVillage and Co-Founder & CEO of EduSports, Saumil has personally engaged with over 1,00,000 children, 50,000 parents in the school sports context over the last decade. Recognised as one of 50 leaders changing Indian education by Education World, Saumil has been working with schools, federations, policy makers and sponsors towards creating more quality opportunities for children to experience the magic of sports/physical activity.