It's becoming more and more common for school sports days to provide participation medals for every student, even if they didn't actually win anything. Some people see this as a negative, but there are actually plenty of reasons why participation medals make sense. Here are just three.
1. Places Emphasis on Effort
Many people reason that giving out participation medals means that it doesn't matter whether children win or lose. This leads to the argument that it teaches children that they can receive rewards no matter how hard they try or well they perform.
However, giving out participation awards doesn't mean that you need to stop giving out other medals for Gold, Silver, and Bronze places – those can still be provided for the winners. What it does do is reward making the effort to compete. If you've run a marathon, you'll probably have been given a medal just for completing the race, no matter your position. That's because even running the slowest time is better than not running at all. Competing in a sports day, even if a child doesn't win, really deserves as much admiration as winning it.
2. Provides a Sense of Community
Sports days often provide a welcome break from lessons, but they'll still usually require children to help out while everything is being set out. They'll also be cheering for their house or class and trying to properly get into the day itself.
All of this encourages a community atmosphere; this is an annual event that the whole school should be proud of participating in. With that in mind, participation awards are a great way to reward children for taking a role, even if they don't win their event. Doing so will make this event feel like it's less to do with winning and losing and more to do with coming together as a school.
3. Improves Self-Esteem
Ultimately, children need to learn to feel good about themselves more than they need to be told how important it is to win. After all, this is not the Olympics. Some children are never going to be athletically-gifted enough to win 1st place, and that can be tough if you're forced to compete no matter your actual skill-level.
By providing a participation award, you'll prevent children from having to feel bad about failing to win when they tried their hardest. Improving self-esteem in the long-term is just as important as rewarding success.
Participation medals can improve self-esteem, establish community spirit, and let children know that their effort is appreciated, so it's well worth giving them out at your next sports day.