Published On: June 26th, 2024

No two sports are the same. Whether it’s football, running, gymnastics, table tennis or even dancing, there are so many different sports for children to enjoy. Whatever their interests are, there’s something for all children to get involved in.

What are the benefits of sports in early years education?

Sports offer a multitude of benefits for young children, from physical and cognitive benefits to social and emotional. The skills and habits they can develop through sports help to lay the foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle in the future.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits in more detail: 

Improves physical health

The most obvious benefits of sport are those involving physical health. Strength, stamina, flexibility, mobility, coordination and balance can all be developed through participating in sports. Encouraging sports during early years education is particularly important for aiding the development of strong muscles and bones.

Sports naturally involve plenty of hand-eye coordination, making it a great way for children to enhance both gross and fine motor skills. Whether they’re throwing, catching, balancing or even just moving around, children will be practising key skills whilst having fun. 

Encourages teamwork and communication

Teamwork is a big part of sport, with everyone coming together to achieve a goal. By participating in team sports, children will get the chance to improve their communication skills, understand what it means to be fair and show support to their peers. They’ll develop both verbal and non-verbal communication skills as they discuss strategies, work as a team and provide feedback.

These interactions help children build strong social bonds, understand the value of collaboration and improve their ability to convey ideas and emotions effectively, all of which are essential skills for daily life.

Leads to better sleep

There’s no doubt about it, sports can be exhausting! The more active children are, the more they’ll be able to regulate energy levels and achieve a restful sleep. We all know just how important it is for children to recharge their bodies and minds through good quality sleep, and introducing sports into their day can help provide just that.

Plus, regular physical activity promotes the production of endorphins, which improve mood and relaxation. Establishing a routine that includes sports can help synchronise a child’s internal body clock, making it easier for them to fall asleep and wake up at consistent times.

Aids with cognitive development

Sport isn’t just a workout for the body, it’s also a workout for the mind! Participating in sports requires children to think strategically and make quick decisions. They learn to assess situations, plan their moves, and adapt to changing conditions, which enhances their problem-solving skills and cognitive flexibility.

Studies have shown that memory, concentration and academic performance are all enhanced when children take part in regular sporting activities.

It’s great fun!

Most importantly, taking part in sport is a great way for children to have fun! With such a variety of activities, children can explore different skills and games, finding what works for them. With a sense of freedom and friends by their side, sport enables children to challenge themselves and feel a sense of accomplishment. And even if they don’t ‘win’ the game, they’ll learn plenty of valuable skills along the way.

Engaging in physical activities stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, which help to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve overall mood. So not only is sport good for the body, it’s also good for the mind.

How can hosting a Mini Olympics encourage children to play sports?

With the summer Olympics just around the corner, why not host your very own version? The Olympic Games are all about striving for excellence, showing respect and celebrating friendship. And with over 30 sports on the programme for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, there’s no better way to introduce children to the possibilities that sport offers. Whether you opt for traditional sports, non-traditional games, or a mix of both, your event can be customised for your own mini Olympians!

Hosting your own ‘Mini Olympics’ is a great way to create a sense of excitement around sport and gives each child a chance to showcase their own talents. Medals are of course a big part of the Olympics, so why not create your own podium for the winners of each game? And since it’s not the actual event, every child can receive an award for taking part.

What could your Mini Olympics include?

There’s no set of rules to follow when creating your own Mini Olympics. Most importantly, make sure it’s fun, exciting and accessible to all. 

We’ve listed our favourite ideas below: 

  • Opening ceremony with a parade of participants (why not make an Olympic Torch too?)
  • Variety of sports events (e.g. athletics, swimming, football, tennis, basketball and netball)
  • Fun, non-traditional games (e.g. sack races, tug-of-war, obstacle courses)
  • Team relays and individual competitions
  • Award ceremonies with medals and ribbons
  • Healthy snack stations and hydration points
  • Educational workshops on sportsmanship and teamwork
  • Parent and child events or competitions
  • Closing ceremony to recognise and reward each participant 

No matter how you decide to structure your Mini Olympics, you’ll be creating a fun, safe and exciting environment for children to delve into the world of sports and find new interests.  

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