How competitive is the sports day at your local primary school? Do the children take part in activities where they compete against each other - where there are winners and losers? Or does everyone join in with all of the activities and there is no element of competition? Which of these approaches is best for the parents, best for the school and, most importantly, best for the child?
According to a recent survey by Families magazine, 57% of parents with children at primary school say their sports day is “non-competitive”. Here children take part in activities, parents cheer from the sidelines but there are no winners and losers. Some may argue that this is the best approach. Its easier for the school as they don't have upset parents and children on the day because no one comes last. However, of the parents that took the survey, 86% didn't approve.
I don't approve either. I believe that sports days should be competitive. There are many children in the classroom who win all the time, being the best in class at literacy, maths, science, etc. Sports days give the most athletic children the chance to really shine and, as a teacher myself, I'm always suprised at how children come into their own when things get competitive. After all, real life is competitive and children need to learn how to lose and win too.
Above all, sports days need to be fun as children will remember positive and negative feelings from an early age. Having a negative experience could put them off sport which is obviously a no-no. Also, children shouldn't be led to believe that beating everyone is important.nt
The best sports days that I've been involved with are when each child is part of a team. During the sports day, teams are split up and the children compete with each other across a series of track and field events (including the egg and spoon race and three legged race!). They get points for winning and being placed in each of the events, certificates for the longest/fastest in each event and medals for the winning team and for every one that takes part. In my opinion, this is the best compromise as each child comes out of the experience in a positive way and the sporty kids are able to shine too.