Parents know that physical education is important for children’s physical and mental health. The problem is: How do you get kids up, moving and engaged?
The British International School of Chicago-Lincoln Park tackles this issue head-on by taking a proactive approach to athletic programs from day one. “Our key principle is helping children get comfortable being physically active,” says Adam Webb, the school’s Director of Athletics. “We want them to associate movement with fun, so we make sure that their class time with us is a positive experience.”
Getting active early
The youngest BISC-LP students, such as the Pre-Nursery children ages 15 months to three years, work on building simple physical development and gross motor skills. Preschool children learn games and build eye-hand coordination.
As students continue to Year 1 (kindergarten) through Year 6 (fifth grade), they explore more challenging activities such as fencing, rock climbing, archery and soccer. Students also have the opportunity to become part of the Games programs such as Soccer Club and Bulldogs Basketball, teams that are open to anyone interested.
Children are encouraged and supported as they explore different activities, and Webb believes this leads to student enthusiasm and increased participation. “Parents tell me that their little ones were easy to wake up this morning because they knew they were going to spend time in Athletics today,” says Webb.
Unique athletic programs and partnerships
As a British school, part of the student experience at BISC-LP is gaining exposure to games such as cricket. “Not a lot of the children have tried cricket when they come to us, but this is something we offer that makes us stand out from other schools,” says Caroline Gordon, P.E. Specialist and Primary Curriculum Director.
Adam Webb is one of the founders of the school’s Cricket Club. “Our club began three years ago with 8-10 children participating, but now we have at least 30 members who enjoy competing in this traditionally British sport,” he says.
In addition, BISC-LP offers students external coaching opportunities through a series of partnerships with local organizations. These include professional sports teams such as the Chicago Fire soccer team as well as Northside Archery Club, Lil’ Sluggers, Windy City Fencing and the Lakeview Lakers.
“All students benefit from our partnerships, whether they want to prepare for competitive sports down the road, or simply want to enjoy the fun of playing,” says Webb.
The biggest event of the BISC- LP school year is a British-style Sports Day, which takes place at Montrose Park and welcomes not just students, but their families and friends.
Gordon says the turnout is impressive and the atmosphere festive. “Our school building is closed for the day and all of our 600 students, ages 15 months up to Year 6, along with their parents, participate in this annual tradition.”
Sports Day activities include competitive events such as javelin and the high jump. However, lower-stakes games such as sack races and the ever-popular egg and spoon race are also featured.
“Games provide a sense of community, not just for athletes, but for everyone,” Webb says. “Plus, sports are a big part of the British culture and we love to share this with the children!”
Gordon believes that the breadth of P.E. and Athletics opportunities at BISC-LP offers benefits beyond physical health and fitness. “We see our students build confidence, cooperation and belief in themselves through the years,” she says. “It’s rewarding to see our older students cheering on their teammates and telling them ‘You can do this.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
Find out more at nordangliaeducation.com/bisc-lincolnpark