Outdoor games are renowned for their significant educational benefits . By encouraging children to take on challenges and make decisions together, they help them develop technical, intellectual and social skills.
In this category of activities, there are different forms of orienteering , the use of a climbing wall or cycle routes, as well as team activities, with problems to be solved.
From a psychological point of view, such games help the child to change posture and feel able to do things, which can affect all aspects of school life. They instill in them a sense of determination that gives them the confidence to take on challenges, express and manage their emotions, and the drive to succeed.
It is also a way to help children overcome their fears, anxiety or stress. Very often, this involves taking them out of their comfort zone to expose them to scenarios they are not used to. These can be situations that they perceive as too difficult or potentially dangerous, and it helps them better define the boundary between risk and safety.
Physical education and sports teachers thus have the task of imagining and proposing to students situations of this order, favoring their psychological development as much as possible while presenting the minimum of risks. In the UK, for example, programs include outdoor activities. It is about providing participants with intellectual and physical challenges that encourage them to work as a team, gain confidence while solving problems.
Academically, these activities have the advantage of providing cross-curricular instruction allowing students to improve their reading, writing, numeracy and communication skills – with applications for other core subjects such as mathematics, geography and science.
These skills can be emphasized through games that test confidence and build team spirit. These also consolidate the sense of cooperation and responsibility. Many of these activities are thus welcome to facilitate the transition between primary and secondary, at a time when self-confidence is particularly important.
Physical education teachers should also think of types of exercises that children can do at home.
Include all students
Young people practice activities outside of school that are very different from those sports which are included in the programs such as cricket or rugby. Thus, many of them enjoy cycling in their free time and offering the possibility of practicing this activity in a school setting could increase the attractiveness of physical education for a greater number of pupils.
At the University of Brighton, for example, trainee teachers were introduced to this relatively new concept of ‘physical education on wheels’, capitalizing on the popularity of mountain bikes, BMX bikes, skateboarding and scootering, yet few schools have seen the potential of these sports to increase the activity level of children and adolescents.
For reasons of cost, expertise, equipment and time, unfortunately, many children cannot share such experiences. But this type of approach should not be reserved for schools near forests or mountain ranges. These activities can be organized directly on site, even in schools that have limited outdoor space.
Author Bio: Gary Stidder is Principal Lecturer, School of Sport and Service Management at the University of Brighton