The Head of P.E. and Games at St Nicholas Prep School on the joy of sport and its importance in the curriculum

I have been fortunate to experience a lot of sport throughout my life, from professional sport to recreational activities. Teaching primary school pupils at St Nicholas Prep reminds PE teachers like me of what it was like to be young and how we developed our skills. Whilst the training sessions, after-school clubs and P.E. lessons were all-important, it was the little things that really helped me to develop my coordination and confidence.

I remember my parents giving me three small juggling balls to play with when we were on holiday one year. I practised every day until I could conquer the art of juggling all three at once, and then continued this daily practice until the age of 15 or so. Impressive or not, all that practice significantly developed my coordination, control and patience – the confidence that I gained as a result was huge. 

All this must have been rather annoying for my parents, who endured the constant juggling and the football being kicked against a wall in the back garden. Yet they knew that I loved sports, and thankfully they could see the benefits in my determination, for example my handwriting improved and using a knife and fork became easier. We should not underestimate the positive impact that sport has on us, not only in terms of physical fitness, but also in supporting everyday life and bringing us joy.

However much children love screens and electronic games, it’s important to remember that challenging yourself physically at a young age develops overall confidence. Mastering a simple skill like catching enables a child to then move on to explore more difficult competences. I see this regularly in PE lessons with primary pupils, where even the smallest physical achievement can bring huge smiles to their faces.  

3 things for parents to remember:

  • You can never start sports too early – dexterity becomes coordination, then confidence
  • Balance on-screen activities with good old-fashioned analogue play
  • Join in with that game of catch or kick-around – it’s good for you, too!

If you enjoyed this article, why not read ‘How to build self-esteem in children‘?