Keeping score, so much more than competition

This week a number of sessions in schools and at our golf club sessions have involved the children keeping score. Always a firm favourite of theirs, and ours. 

So often scoring is linked with competition and winning, but during our sessions in schools we have a number of different ways to introduce children to keeping score. Interestingly seldom do the children talk about who wins! 

Introducing scoring to children normally begins with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. We are then interested to see what they do, what do they write and what does it mean. Whatever framework the children are given they are usually brilliant at figuring things out for themselves. 

Reflecting on this weeks sessions where we kept score in lots of different ways got me thinking how much else went on. As mentioned, scoring is often linked with competition and seeing who is the best, and that maybe the case at certain stages of people’s lives. But for the children we see the role of competition will vary dramatically. For this reason, and at this stage, we rarely talk about it. And we certainly do it impose it on them. 

A couple of things I noticed…

Firstly, children always love the fact they are being given stuff! A clipboard, a prince of paper and a pencil and the children are always so excited and grateful. This extra bit of equipment engages the children in a different way and changes the dynamics of the session. 

We will always give the children just enough information to get started but never enough where they know exactly what to do. This is because we want the children in their groups to fill in the blanks and come up with their own unique way of playing and scoring, and they rarely disappoint. 

Keeping score allows children to collaborate and cooperate with their playing partners. They have to work together because there are lot of decisions to be made, because we kept the instructions to a minimum. While working together they will not always get on, so they will have to deal with disagreements and fall outs. This then leads to new rules and changing the games/challenges. Fair play being one of our golden rules, I feel children naturally know how to play fairly. 

As they begin to keep score their mathematical skills are challenged, an added bonus for the teachers 😉 Adding up their score can sometimes be tricky and again this provides another opportunity for children to work together. 

“They cheated” can sometimes be heard from some groups, always a difficult one to believe as we seldom set “rules” although obviously the children in their groups might. Again, another opportunity for the children in their groups to deal with disagreement and conflict. 

Just a few of things we noticed when asking the children to keep score during our sessions. What do you see? Would love to hear your experiences and thoughts, comment below. 

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