Most people have learnt the basics of any number of official sports during their first preschool years. The importance of both physical and emotional skills that kids acquire through participating in the playground games at school should never be underestimated. When young kids are happily playing silly little childhood games such as hopscotch, marbles or ring-a-ring-a-rosy, they are not only gaining confidence and social skills, but also making a life-long investment in their own physical and mental health.
Outdoor group activities such as running, jumping, skipping and kicking balls on the playground are children's first introduction to team work and social interaction - albeit in a informal, playful manner. This is where they learn to share, to care and that the world does not revolve only around them. Kids don't tolerate unfair, selfish behavior and will quickly reprimand a playmate who does not follow the rules or behaves unacceptably. In an electronic era where kids suffer increasingly from health problems due to obesity, isolation and inactivity, nothing beats team sports to keep a healthy balance.
There is, however, also a downside to playground games if it is not properly supervised. Young kids are normally selfish and unwilling to share. Bullying and fights can easily occur if trained teachers and coaches are not around to take control and defuse explosive situations in a proper, sensible way. Kids can be cruel to one another and victims of school bullies often suffer lasting emotional damage.
It is therefore imperative that preschool kids are never left alone to fend for themselves on a playground. They need to be consistently supervised and occupied with innovative and original games to keep their attention and interest. Many of these group activities are focused on preparing them for formal sport codes. By using a variety of educational equipment such as balls, hoops, ropes and bats, they learn the basic skills of many official sport codes while they are having fun. The physical benefits of these games are innumerable. It helps to keep them fit and healthy, develop good muscle tone and balance, as well as improve their eye-hand coordination.
Group activities and team sport also help to combat social and health problems such as obesity, depression and poor academic performance. Happy, balanced children love to play in groups. Evidence is growing that physical activity and team sport might even increase a child's numeracy and literacy adeptness.
The benefits of healthy, outdoor activities and team sport can never be stressed enough - especially for growing kids. It equips them with social, physical and mental skills that will stand them in good stead for life. Team sport promotes responsibility, tenacity, team spirit, leadership qualities and even the ability to handle life's disappointments. And it all starts with playground games.
The physical, social and mental advantages of healthy playground games should never be underestimated, as it lays the foundation for a happy, balanced and well-adjusted individual.
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