By Joanne Foster
The world is getting ready to celebrate the 2012 Olympics and 2012 Paralympics in London. It’s a time to harness and also build upon the enthusiasm generated by the athletes, and learn from the demonstration of unity showcased by these representatives from countries all across the globe. Let’s cheer not only their accomplishments but also the pride they convey—in their strengths and abilities, their training and efforts, their nations, and their camaraderie.
The Olympics and Paralympics are not just about athletic achievement. They’re about accepting one another’s strengths, weaknesses, and differences. Moreover, each course of events is a celebration of diversity. All of the athletes, regardless of race, colour, gender or sexual orientation, convene excitedly and share two common goals. The first is to strive to do their best. And the second is to unite in the spirit of fellowship.
The 2012 London Games are a time to showcase understandings of harmony, diversity, and good will. There will undoubtedly be many opportunities for children to watch the events unfold, and to learn the meaning and value of these important attributes. However, what else can children learn from the events? They provide a wealth of summer brain-strengthening opportunities—at a time when young brains may not be getting enough of a workout. Schools are out, so it’s really up to parents to carry the ball, if they so choose. Here are some practical suggestions.
Encourage discussion about the merits and drawbacks of competition. Have kids find out ten things they don’t already know about a particular sport or athlete, and then share their findings. Any similarities? Differences? Or suggest that children try and learn something about another country’s training regimen for a sport, and then compare it with their own country’s training program. Talk with kids and work out interesting “I wonder…” or “What if….” or other sorts of questions together, and then look for answers. Possible trigger words that can act as springboards for inquiry and learning about the Olympics and Paralympics include sponsorship, motivation, challenge, technology, tradition, media, practice, and perseverance. Children can make a list of other words and think about why they matter, and how they might apply to their own efforts in one or more areas.
The Olympics are a time to showcase understandings of harmony, diversity, and good will, as well as excellence on many fronts. There will be opportunities for children to watch the events unfold, and to learn the meaning and value of these virtues—and more. Hopefully these lessons will be remembered well past the concluding ceremonies, and spur children to be all they can be, in various kinds of arenas, and beyond.