We are all aware of the importance of being a healthy and active individual in terms of our physical health, however, many overlook the important relationship between physical health, mental health and academic achievement. Through my experiences as a Health and Physical Education teacher at Rowntree Montessori Schools, I would like to highlight the important role physical activity plays in academic success.
I was a child who grew up reading “…is encouraged to slow down when completing assignments.” or “…loses focus during class time and becomes distracted easily.” Despite these comments, I maintained honours-level grades year after year. It wasn’t until later in life that I was diagnosed with ADHD, and at that time I chose to speak with my parents and previous teachers about my elementary and secondary academic career. It was after conversing with them that I realized a direct correlation between my grades and my active participation in sports, both in and outside of the classroom. The whole picture then became crystal clear!
The relationship between my ability to focus on things like studying and assignments and how often I participated in sports became clear as I progressed through university. I began to make sure that I integrated daily physical activity, regardless of my work load, because I knew that taking a single hour out of my time to play squash or hockey would ensure that when I got to work, I was able to focus and maintain a higher level of critical thinking.
As a member of a variety of sports teams, across a variety of levels of sport, I learned the life skills I needed to succeed in my academics. I was able to develop time management, leadership, communication, and co-operation skills through my interactions with my many teammates; these are skills I would have not learned otherwise, being so unable to maintain focus in the classroom. All of those essential skills were developed through a means which I enjoyed and as a result I learned how to implement them into all aspects of my life; my body and my mind were thoroughly exercised each and every day. Of course as a child I didn’t recognize that I was developing critical life skills, but that is what makes sport such a great medium for children to develop a solid academic foundation!
Sports have also helped me, as a child and as an adult, recognize the relationship between practice and hard work, and my eventual success in anything I chose to do in life. I understood at an early age that in order to improve at anything I had to practice, and that included my academic subjects like Math and English. As a Physical Education teacher, I pride myself in my ability to recognize my own learning in life and infuse my experiences into my teaching. I work each and every day to foster each student’s enjoyment of physical activity because I recognize the importance of sports and physical activity in one’s academic success. As a coach of many teams at this school, I use that time to develop not only the skills required for our teams to succeed in their sport, but also the skills they will need to progress through life. My personal teaching philosophy relies on the foundation that students need to develop proper life skills in order to succeed at a high level, and I believe that sports and athletics play a large role in the development of those skills!