When it comes to children, there are countless aspects involved in the development of social skills, and it is crucial that focus be placed on each. One of the best things to teach children to improve these skills is how to develop good sportsmanship (particularly important for those children commonly referred to as the "quitter child"). These children require significantly more attention, support and comprehension in regards to the value that can be gained from playing with others. With the help from PlayTogether NYC, children can build on developing better habits for good sportsmanship.
At PlayTogether, one of our favorite things to do is to have relay races. We push everything aside in our 1,200 foot classroom and break up into teams, purposely mixing-up social groups so that children can have positive experiences with all of their classmates. The children cheer for their team members as they take turns, jumping up and down and shouting "Go! Go!" The child who is taking his or her turn beams out of joy from the attention they receive from his or her peers, helping him or her to feel supported and well-liked by the other classmates. While it is a small gesture of kindness towards other children, the repercussions of such a simple game can be huge. This support may help children break out of their social preferences in the classroom and can potentially even help them to build upon team spirit and learning to play better.
In relay races, the children see that each child is different. Some can run faster than others, but each one does their best, receiving cheers from their classmates regardless. The other children feel good supporting their peers, learning the importance of a positive experience for all. This "team spirit" then transfers over to other activities throughout the child's day, eventually makign them accustomed to cheering each other on.
Here at PlayTogether, we also see this in the playground during free play. Often, a child will say “good run” to another child, complementing them on the game they just finished--competitive or otherwise.
When it comes to teaching children to feel comfortable playing sports together, it is important to start early; it's crucial to remember that team sports can help a child with the development of his or her self-esteem. At PlayTogether NYC, we start children learning early and benefitting from these skills. If a child can learn how to be a "good sport" in the game at an early age, he or she will carry those same skills for years to come.