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Do your students struggle to demonstrate good sport behaviors? Do they truly understand what it means to be a good sport?

Many students think they know, but when I ask them, they can not explain it. That’s why I teach this concept explicitly in early elementary and to targeted small groups of upper elementary, as needed.



Good sportsmanship is so important in all facets of our student’s day. Whether it be working on a classroom assignment with their peers, playing a board game during in-door recess, an activity in P.E, or engaging in a class discussion. Good sportsmanship is a must, if we are to get along with others and make/keep friends.

Students with special needs often struggle a lot with this skill. Many of my students have a difficult time taking the perspectives of others and therefore feel they should always get what they want. This does not usually go over well with their peers.


How many times a day do you find yourself saying,


“Be a good sport.” 


It may be time to back up a bit and teach your student(s) exactly what it means to be a “good sport.” When you break it down, it is actually quite complex. It really does require many different skills on the part of the student(s). This is especially true if they are in the “losing” position. 

So what does it mean to be a good sport?

It means that you behave in a kind way, while playing/working/interacting with others whether you lose, or win.  Whether you get what you want, or not.


So what are these 'kind' behaviors?  

Here is a list of behaviors that I think are critical.


1. Play fair

2. Play the whole game

3. Try you best

4. Have fun

5. Keep your emotions in control {positive and negative}

6. Accept the rules

7. Say things like, “good game”

8. Stay positive 

9. Support your teammates

10. Win or lose respectfully


How To Teach These Behaviors


I like to teach each of these behaviors by discussing them one at a time. I start by showing my students one of my Good Sport Reminders Posters. 

First, I ask them what it means to be a good sport. If they do not know {and they usually don’t}, I tell them. Being a good sport is using kind behavior when you are playing or working with others, whether you win or lose, get your way, or not.

Next, I read each of my Good Sport behaviors and talk about each one. It is important to give examples and role play each one. As you can imagine, this takes some time to do, so plan to have a good chunk of time to do this, at least 15-30 minutes, depending on how in depth you get.

Give examples from things you have seen in your classroom or group sessions lately. Use examples of issues that have come up for some of your students. 

After this is done, you can help your student gain a more solid understanding with some worksheets to help them with what they have just learned. I have created 12 differentiated posters and worksheets to help students improve their understanding of how to be a good sport. 

The set provides support for teachers who want a quick reminder to hang on a bulletin board as well as enough materials to address this skill over several sessions and with a wide variety of learners.


Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids


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