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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

The Summer Olympics – A family learning experience

July 27, 2012

Let the Games begin... Peace!

Eight years ago (how’s that possible?!) I was hired to create lesson plans for a middle school advisory program. For those unfamiliar with “advisory,” typically it’s a weekly class  in which small groups of 6th-8th graders come together with a teacher for conversations about social-emotional challenges. Topics might include: body image, peer pressure, conflict resolution, etc. Since that year’s school calendar coincided with the start the ’04 Summer Olympics I created a couple of Olympic themed lesson plans. I was reminded of them this morning and thought you might like to use some of these ideas this evening as you and your family enjoy the opening ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Olympics Part 1
Educational objective – Understand a bit about the Olympic games as a historic tradition and appreciate them as a model for goal setting, team work, international goodwill.

Some background to share with your kids: Greece was the home of the first Olympics more than 2500 years ago. In the ancient Games, only free men who spoke Greek could compete. Today’s modern Olympics are open to male & female athletes from all over the world. Ask your kids: How is that an improvement over the ancient form?

Watch the Opening Ceremonies on TV and see how many different countries are represented in the Parade of Nations. Find as many as you can on a map.

In ancient times winning athletes received a crown made from olive leaves and they were treated like sports celebrities. ASK: What can Olympic athletes win today?

Ancient Olympic events only included foot races, boxing, wrestling, discus throwing. This year’s Summer Olympics will include 26 sports with 36 disciplines and about 300 events (including archery, weightlifting, Tai Kwondo, volleyball and or course, all kinds of track and swimming events) Women’s Boxing has been added for the first time. ASK: What’s your favorite Olympic event? Talk about why each person in the family likes the sport you do.
EMPHASIZE: All Olympic athletes have short & long term goals. In the same way that each of us has goals, during the summer and throughout the school year. Athletes also have a Game Plan that includes: Daily practice. Work with coach. A support network.

Part 2

Educational objective – Increase awareness of the personal achievements of individual athletes who’ve made it to the Olympics through perseverance and the support they get from coaches, family, teammates.

To make it to the Olympics, you need 2 things. Perseverance is one. ASK: What does perseverance mean?  (Steady and continuous work toward a goal, despite difficulties or setbacks.)

ASK: What does this quotation mean to you? “Constant dripping hollows out a stone.” (Lucretius)  (Keep at it and you will make progress.)

EMPHASIZE: All the Olympic athletes worked very hard for years. It takes perseverance to achieve a goal. So even if they don’t win a medal, they have achieved an impressive goal of getting to the Games.

The other thing the athletes need is support. ASK: What does support mean?  (To give active help and encouragement.)

EMPHASIZE: Perseverance can only come from you. It’s your effort that will help you achieve your goals at school and in life. Support is the help you get from others. ASK:  Who are your supporters, at home? At school?

I hope this helps you bring something extra to your family’s enjoyment of the Olympics. Let the Games begin!


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