Originally published Aug. 28, 2018 in the Indonesia Expat.
ACG School Jakarta believes that sports in the digital age is even more crucial for school students than ever. As young people spend a lot of their time online, many are less active than children were in the past. Parents are understandably more cautious about letting their kids out to play. They are only trying to protect them, but before the internet kids were more active, outside playing tag, chasing each other on their bikes or climbing all over jungle gyms. So, to ACG School Jakarta, sport is more crucial than ever before.
Our thoughts on sport are also backed up by research – which shows academic achievements can be boosted if students take part in sport or are physically active. Naturally, this fuels the ongoing debate over the benefit of sport in schools.
In the US a new study has, for example, offered evidence that fitness in children can aid math skills. The research, highlighted in San Francisco-based PLOS One, a scientific journal published by the US Public Library of Science, tested children aged nine and ten and found those who were fitter had better math scores.
In Britain a study by British Universities and Sport (BUCS) in 2013 showed that involvement in university sport boosts students’ employment prospects – and provides opportunities to develop leadership skills.
Schools are one of the last chances children have of getting involved in sport. Where else are they going to get the chance? It is so easy to put kids in front of an iPad and we believe schools have a real role to play in involving them in sport.
Our aim is to increase student involvement in our co-curricular sports programme this year. PE is compulsory at ACG School Jakarta up to the end of Year 11. During this time students spend up to 80 minutes each week in a sports activity. Our aim is to provide opportunities for students to extend the amount of time engaged in physical activity.
It is not highly competitive, but we cover a whole range of sports by teaching children the fundamentals. We are trying to foster an interest in sport where the aim is not primarily on winning, but fun and elevating the heart rate. This can bring the same benefits as competitive sport.
It is recommended people do 120 minutes of physical activity a week – and schools play a key role in providing the means and encouragement for that to happen. We believe that the old adage of “a healthy body equals a healthy mind” is absolutely true.
Sport teaches many life lessons and helps develop the skills and qualities required to be successful. Self-discipline, focus, teamwork and resilience are enhanced and there are also a wide range of social benefits. Students at ACG School Jakarta are strongly encouraged to play a sport, to get involved in something they are passionate about and to continue once they leave school.
ACG Schools have a strong academic record, but we know a good education is more than just that. We aim to provide our students with a challenging holistic education and there are five key elements to this – academics, student well-being, sport activities and the arts, experiential education outside of the classroom and leadership and service.
Although sport is at the heart of a lot of communities, not all students are interested in it or see it as an outlet. The arts and activities like drama can also play a key role in student performance. Traditional assumptions about the relationship between the arts and learning are now being supported by research showing there is indeed a link between student achievement and gains in maths, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking and verbal skills.
Participation can improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. Whatever makes students feel good – some get it from rugby, others from maths – will help them to learn well.
Improvement and extension key to sports strategy
Our aim this year is to implement our sports strategy that will see the profile of our sports programme at ACG School Jakarta improve and we will give students the best possible chance to do well. Constantly striving to improve is key to our vision. We will commit to valuing sport and physical activity and its connection to wellbeing and academic success. We want students to take every opportunity to learn about teamwork, commitment, effort and physical skills.
With sport you get the whole spectrum of learning. It’s also about the joy of playing, stretching resilience, managing disappointment and persevering when things are not going well instead of finding the nearest exit.
ACG School Jakarta students are self-reflective – a skill that makes them very coachable. They learn it at a young age through the school’s teaching approach. Taking time to reflect helps in any setting, improvement in physical skills included. A successful sports strategy would see an increase in the number of students involved in sport at ACG School Jakarta, and improvement across the different codes.
But ultimately it is about seeing students engage in sport over a lifetime, enjoy themselves and achieve the health benefits of physical activity and competition.
In sport nothing beats the feeling of improvement. When things flow, it is special and sometimes only lasts a moment. Improvement and growth comprise the essence of the strategy.