Now the football frenzy of the Russia World Cup 2018 has finally died down, we take a refelctive look back on a tournament that not only bought the entire country together as a whole, but also the incredible impact and learning opportunities this tournament had on our children within Early Years.
You don’t have to be a football fan to get caught up in the frenzy and excitement of watching your country play in such a prestigious tournament, and this is certainly the case within the sector for children throughout the World Cup tournament and other tournaments of it’s kind.
The World Cup and other sporting events should not have activities and opportunities planned solely around the children that are ‘interested’ in particular sports, tournaments and national celebrations such as these are for everyone.
The benefits of introducing these experiences to all of the children truly are endless and this is something we discovered first-hand from the moment the tournament started and we started to incorporate the World Cup into our weekly planning.
It is not just football we actively encourage the children to get involve in and understand, last year for example we placed huge emphasis and focus on Wimbledon as our chosen tournament and arranged our own tennis session at our local tennis club.
This year however, we started our World Cup celebrations and activities a few days before the tournament started in order to capture and develop the children’s interests in the upcoming tournament prior to the event; we did this by setting up our own ‘World Cup’ area within our play room with our own ‘pitch’ (a large piece of astro-turf), football trophies, shirts (clubs as well as countries!), a soft ball, football board games, football memorabilia, flags and newspaper clippings.
The response we had to such a simple an open-ended introduction was phenomenal and even our youngest children were instantly captured; the children immediately wanted to put on football shirts and kick the ball around and so we took their interest and developed it by showing them the National Anthem as we explained what the tournament was and how it would be played, we discussed the routine of the game (singing each countries National Anthem at the beginning of each game) this then lead to the children deciding they wanted to learn the National Anthem and so we had this playing frequently and as the children began playing their indoor football games they lined up together and began to sing the National Anthem.
The children’s interest in the tournament developed with the tournament and our after school children were keen to get involved too with games of table football and taking responsibility for filling in the scores on our World Cup timetable as well as running our own sweepstake where each child picked a team to support throughout the tournament.
As a result of this unexpected interest, we decided to provide the children with the opportunity to visit a real football stadium and play football on a real pitch as we are firm believers in bringing learning to life and so we organised an event with our local football club Worthing FC and invited along members and mindees of our local childminding network for a morning of football practice, skills, penalty shootouts and a tour of the stadium and changing rooms – we even had oranges at half-time just like real football players too!
We had never imagined that such a huge tournament would capture the interest of children so young but we were amazed by the sheer volume of learning opportunities that we were able to offer the children and how much new knowledge and skills they took from it and applied in their child led play. Not just the physical skills from playing football, but the team spirit, turn-taking, compassion, understanding and patience with each other as well as the understanding and awareness of other countries and their cultures and traditions; was something we truly hadn’t accounted for and we are so glad we placed so much emphasis on the tournament as the benefits to the children and their learning and development have truly been phenomenal .
You can read the media coverage of our event with Worthing FC here.