By Beth Pinyerd

School starts back soon but over these next few weeks, families can share inspiration and togetherness as we see life lessons being displayed in the hard work and practice it takes to be an Olympic athlete. We sit on the edge of our seats as we watch athletes display what years of practice and endurance have produced.

Young children may ask “What are the Olympic Competition and Games.” Simply explain that this is a time every four years that people  from all over the world come together to celebrate hard work, different sports, unity and teamwork. This is a time that the world comes together in one “big friendship” with respect for each other in sportsmanship! This is an opportunity to show the whole world to your young children on a globe or map. Show pictures of people all over the world. Children love to sing the song “God has got the whole world in His Hands.” To view the Olympics is a wonderful visual for children to see people come together all over the world.

Even though the cauldron was lit to begin the summer games last Friday, July 23 in Tokyo, Japan, there are so many lessons your child can learn from this time that the world comes together called the Olympics. Explain to your child that a torch was run through many countries as a “relay pass the torch” kind of activity. Show your child a globe and the countries this torch has gone through. You and your child can do a “pretend torch” carry  with a flashlight as a family activity.

The Olympic games provide social ideas and lessons to learn. The Olympic games teach us about people participating fairly in sports, playing and working together in peace and friendship which brings the world closer to your child’s understanding and makes it a better and beautiful world.

Express to your child that people from countries get together to play games and celebrate care, friendship and unity in different sports every four years. Use a math lesson in explaining and pointing out the years Olympics fall. Children can learn about shapes as your family makes an Olympic flag. The flag has interlocking rings of blue, yellow, black, green, red on a white background. The Olympic flag colors represent all colors which are found in nations all around the world. As you go back to the globe, tell your children the rings represent the five major land areas of the world. We see the interlocking rings show the unity and friendships of nations around the world. At opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics we can witness the world come together as the world celebrates patriotism for each county. Children will absolutely love drawing and coloring their Olympic flags! In fact, children love to march. Why not have a family Olympic parade in your home or outside? Put on music about the world, such as “We Are The World” by the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie as well as “It’s A Small World” by the late Robert B. Sherman. 

Mention to children that the games originated in Greece. Visit the Olympic games website and point out some neat pictures about the Olympic games and their origin.

Ask your children what sports interest them the most. It could be swimming, diving, cycling, gymnastics, track and field events, canoeing, beach volleyball or table tennis. Try to find out the schedule of the sports your children are interested in. Children love to cheer the athletes on to a win. Your older children will enjoy viewing the background stories of the athletes that are shown. These stories truly encourage children to pursue their dreams and that it is possible with hard work and persistence to fulfill these dreams.

After your child views the summer Olympics, they will want to do it too. Think of some creative and safe ways to do “pretend Olympic Games”. Children love to do running races. Races can vary with hopping and skipping. They love the race of putting the ball between the knees race where they hop to the finish line. Too, children love water play whether it be in a pool, baby pools or sprinklers. The summer Olympics can be celebrated by music and dancing.

As a craft, children can make Olympic Medals with simple paper circles and ribbons. Let them decorate their ribbons with crayons, markers or stickers. Explain to the children that the athletes they see on television at the Olympic Games win medals for their country and for themselves. Point out to your children individual wins as well as team wins. Explain to them that the different countries’ national anthems are sung after they win as the country’s flag is raised. In your family or community games, let the children know that they are all winners as they see and learn about friendship all over the world.  This provides a good time for your family to talk about good sportsmanship as they witness this in the Olympics. Ask the children how they witnessed good teamwork. 

Over the next few weeks really enjoy the Olympic games. With your children, it’s not who wins but how they play the game. Who knows, you might have a future Olympic Star in your family.

Beth Pinyerd
Classroom Observer