It seems like the Rio Olympics were only a couple of months ago, not almost 4 years ago! With Tokyo 2020 just around the corner, it’s a great time to get children educated on the importance of exercise. With so many sports out there, take this opportunity to show them something new. Starting children off at a young age with exercise is key to developing a healthy lifestyle and connecting with exercise and good eating habits.
New sports to get involved with
The Tokyo Olympics brings with it the introduction of some new sports, bringing some unusual activities to a competitive level.
This is a hard sport to qualify for as there is only space for a total of 40 athletes (evenly split between males and females), with a maximum of four people from each country. Surfing will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach over a four-day period.
Within skateboarding there will be two categories for each gender. The first is street skateboarding, which is held on a fairly straight course with stairs, benches and handrails. There will also be park skateboarding, which will be performed on a hollowed-out course with curves and deep grooves.
3. Sport Climbing
This will be a combined competition for both men and women, and 20 athletes from each gender will take place. Sport climbing will be split into 3 categories – speed, bouldering and lead.
With Japan being the home of karate, it’s no surprise that Tokyo will host the very first Olympic karate competition. There will be six events in total, three for each gender, and this is then split further into weight divisions.
5. Baseball and Softball
Baseball and softball were part of the Beijing 2008 Olympics but were then removed from the schedule. Japan is the favourite to secure a medal in both sports, so it will be an interesting time for the home team.
Travel to Tokyo
As well as getting children involved in some of the new sports that are launching at the 2020 Olympics, Travel to Tokyo is a nationwide project funded by the National Lottery. As @Living_Sport tweeted, the project aims to inspire children aged 5-11 and their families to try new activities.
All primary schools in England will be contacted about Travel to Tokyo. The project is running until December 2020, meaning that the hype the Olympics brings will continue to inspire young children to try out new sports. The idea behind this concept is to encourage families to motivate each other and in particular make parents more aware of the recommended levels of activity their child should be participating in on a daily basis.
Benefits of exercise
Research carried out by Sport England suggested that 4 in 5 young people aren’t doing the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. With the rise in modern technology, it comes as no surprise really. Rather than playing outside after school, many children are straight on the sofa watching the television or glued to a gaming programme.
It’s important to educate children on the importance of exercise so that it becomes second nature for them. Here are some of the benefits:
- Physical activity is good for the brain – both its development and functioning
- Academic performance is often improved when physical activity increases
- Exercise helps with mental health too, with an immediate positive effect on the brain
How schools can make an impact
Encouraging children to exercise is all about making it fun, and in small doses. As part of the Travel to Tokyo campaign there are some fantastic activity guides to give you some inspiration, but why not start with making your own Tokyo mascots – Miraitowa and Someity. As these are different genders, you could split the class into boys vs girls and run some sports day activities. Or better still, why not throw together your very own mini Olympics, complete with an opening ceremony where all the children can dress up and parade around the Olympic torch in preparation.
Put time aside to watch the games
Just because children will be at school for some of the Olympics, it doesn’t mean that they have to miss out. It will be close to the end of term, so could be the perfect opportunity to let the children unwind slightly and have some timetabled sessions where they can watch the Olympics live. Arrange your lesson plans around some of the big finals, particularly when Team GB are in contention for medals. It makes for an even more exciting event for the children!
Bringing the Olympics to the classroom
There are many creative ways that you can bring the Olympics into your lessons, no matter what subject area you teach. English is probably one of the easiest, as you can ask the children to write diary entries from an Olympic athlete’s perspective, a report about their favourite Olympic sport, poems about the Olympics and so much more.
If maths is your subject area, try adding some sports and statistics into your problem solving questions. Ticket prices is a great one to use as an example here. Don’t forget to add an Olympic countdown chart to your classroom wall too.
For the creative arts and music, the Olympics can be made quite fun. You could get pupils to draw a new Tokyo 2020 logo, compose some music for the opening ceremony, or even draw a new mascot. Integrating the Olympic theme into subjects like geography and history is a little harder, but for older students try and focus on educating them about Tokyo and the history of the games.
The whole idea behind the Travel to Tokyo concept is about making the Olympics a fun thing for children to get involved in. Whilst it’s a great occasion to encourage children to take up new sports and try different things, it’s also about bringing different nations together as one and coming up with innovative ideas to make sports and exercise fun for children, with the key goal being to get active.