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Through play, there is a strong educational link between sport and problem solving.

The short answer is yes, there is an educational link between sport and problem solving.

As children, many of us grew up playing backyard sport. Whether it was cricket or football, playing a game in the backyard taught us some valuable lessons in problem solving that today’s children may be missing. Similarly, the way sport is coached can help or hinder your son’s ability to solve problems.

Let’s look at cricket as an example. At training, your son may be standing down one end of the pitch with the coach throwing some balls for him to hit in a variety of directions through a range of power – some soft, some hard. After a number of balls are hit, the coach comes down to give the player some feedback. He might advise him to change his grip, or change his swing, or perhaps how he is standing. Whilst feedback like this can be beneficial, the player is missing out on the chance to learn by solving a problem on his own. He is being told the problem and given a solution by the coach. Perhaps it would be better if he could identify a solution on his own?

Problem solving through play

Going back to the backyard sport scenario, in this environment boys have to overcome obstacles on their own. Perhaps they keep hitting balls over the fence. This is an opportunity for them to reflect on their own behaviour, and try to change it to solve the problem. Rather than simply being told what to do, they are independently working out why they need to do it.

It is this fundamental skill of self-reflection that only comes through boys playing on their own, and it applies to all aspects of life not just sport. Academia and creative arts can also be of great benefit to your son’s self-reflection and self-learning skills. 

How can play be brought back into sport?

As a parent, or perhaps a volunteer coach, what can you do to bring these opportunities back into training to encourage self-learning?

  1. Take a step back – let boys figure things out for themselves. You will be surprised how clever they can be when they have a desire to win.
  2. Give him a target – instead of having boys simply hit balls, give them something to aim at. Just having a fixed target can give a boy visual feedback on his performance, and allows him to alter his behaviour.
  3. Make it a game – assign a point value to targets. Boys are competitive, and the fact that they can now acculumate points via this game can replicate the challenges he will face in a weekend match.

At Scots, this ‘discovery learning’ system is core to our educational philosophy. We encourage boys to learn by doing, and then comparing what they have learnt to the theory. This enables them to reflect on their own learning as well as the teachings of experts, to form a comprehensive opinion of the subject matter. This approach to learning is evident in all aspects of education at Scots.

Learn more about our approach to sport by downloading your copy of our Prospectus today.

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