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In recent years, a few nagging questions have emerged about the role of sports in kids' health: Should they play more? Research has shown we may overestimate the amount of physical activity our kids are getting in everything from dance to field sports. Should they play less? We may also underestimate some health risks, such as concussions.
However, a new study out of the University of Montreal suggests a powerful entry for the 'wins' column: Organized sports can help preteens succeed in the classroom.
Regular, structured extracurricular sports may contribute to kids’ developing the discipline they need to engage effectively in the classroom, according to a new study led by researcher Linda Pagani, of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital. She has found that discipline and the all-important skill of self-regulation—a key skill uncovered in the famous marshmallow experiment started in the 1960s—are correlated with sports participation.
Professor Pagani and her colleagues studied data from 2,694 children who were born in Quebec between 1997 and 1998, according to a press release. Information was collected starting in kindergarten.
Children who were involved in team sports in kindergarten were found to have scored higher on self-regulation tests by the time they reached the fourth grade. The study appears in the July-August edition of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Although more research needs to be done to understand the correlation between sports and classroom behaviour, Pagani says she hopes her findings will influence parents and school planners alike to include organized sporting activities at school and in leisure time—especially for at-risk children.
Read on for more about how to be a supportive sports parent and how to raise a confident child.