Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Do Basketball and Social Skills Have in Common?

One of the big problems with working in an urban area is the lack of enrichment activities for the students. We have no music program aside from one semester per year of general music (although our new music teacher rocks and is trying to expose the kids to more), we have no clubs or activities aside from a fall cross-country team and a winter basketball team, and we have a very limited art class, which is also only for a semester. My principal is trying hard to get the kids out on field trips to local colleges, the theatre, and to see the city orchestra, and she's bringing in a lot of before and after school tutoring programs.

Our gym... go green team!
Today, I stayed after school not to write IEPs or reports (as is the norm lately with the program review I'm wading through), but to go to the boys' basketball game! Some of my 7th and 8th grade friends have been trying to get me to go, so since today was their last home game, I couldn't pass it up. It was a blast! The boys lost by 2 points, but they played hard and enjoyed themselves.

The benefits of extracurricular activities, especially sports, is so incredible for kids. Not only do they learn routines, expectations, rules, and how to follow directions, they increase their social skills. Kids learn about turn-taking and sharing, good sportsmanship, how to deal with upsets and challenging situations, friendship skills, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Research has also shown a positive correlation between participation in sports and academic achievement. Hmm... sounds like all of the "desired behaviors" I write on my Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs)!

Watching the boys working together, congratulating one another, and cheering each other on was fantastic. The majority of the team is self-contained special ed. students from the 15:1 classes in junior high, who need some social skills training, so this is an excellent opportunity for them. I wish that we had more sports teams for our school. Maybe it would keep me from having to write so many BIPs! ;)

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