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One of the most fun and exciting days of the year for Thai students, whether at grade school or a university, is Sports Day. But a Thai school Sports Day goes above and beyond sports competitions. In fact, we’ll say it’s more about the parades, marching bands, costumes, and the cheerleading!
Back when Chris and I were in elementary school, we were ecstatic when Field Day came around. We got to wear play clothes to school and spend an afternoon racing around outside, playing competitive games (water sports included!), and picnicking. It also signaled the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break.
Every Student Looks Forward to Their Thai School Sports Day
So it came as no surprise that my Thai students were beyond excited about their upcoming Thai school Sports Day.
I taught at a school that had Anuban (kindergarten), Prathom Levels 1 through 6 (elementary school) and Matthayom (junior high) Levels 1 through 3. Everyone, regardless of age, looked forward to this special day.
The Thai school I taught at separated its students into four houses with assigned colors – think the Hogwarts Houses in Harry Potter for a second. The students were assigned a color from the moment they enrolled in the school – red, yellow, green, or blue.
On Sports Day, the students competed against others in their same grade level but on teams based on their house colors.
And oh how cute they were! The younger students rode bicycles and tricycles, and the older girls competed in sprinting and long distance running. Badminton, volleyball, and soccer were played competitively, too.
Although good ol’ sports competitions were in the works, Sports Day truly seemed to be centered around the parades of flags, the marching bands, and the team spirit of the color-coded teams. Each team attempted to outdo each other’s spirit. Whoever could
scream cheer the loudest and shake their pompoms and noise makers with the most enthusiasm was the true winner!
The Thai and foreign teachers participated in the Thai school Sports Day, too. We were split into colored houses and asked to play a few rounds of soccer. I was randomly assigned to the green house. How did they know that (lime) green was one of my favorite colors?!
These pictures make me look way more athletic than I actually am. Go cameraman! For anyone who knows me, I’m horrible at anything that requires hand-eye coordination with a round object. But I’m really good at playing defense, er, getting in people’s way.
The foreign English teachers handed out medals afterwards to the girls who won in their division.
At the end of Sports Day, the girls from Matthayom put on a show. Each house spent an entire month designing homemade costumes and putting together a choreographed dance that showed off their team spirit.
And then a true surprise, Native Americans! I couldn’t resist a photo. I never figured out why the students dressed up like this, but I got a kick out of it!
Kids Will Be Kids
I learned a few things after participating in a Thai school Sports Day. For starters, it was a friendly reminder that my students are playful, creative, and incredibly enthusiastic children.
Two, they had more school spirit and pride than I ever remember having as a kid at my school. Not to say that the lovely little American country town where I grew up didn’t have school spirit, it was just less intense than what I experienced in Chiang Mai.
And lastly, games are key! As a first year ESL teacher in Thailand, I sometimes lost track of making sure my students were actually learning because I was so focuses on going through the motions of teaching. Making learning fun by incorporating games, team-building exercises, and interactive projects is better for the children. And ultimately, you’ll have every student itching to come to your class rather than simply being known as another foreign face to walk through the halls of a Thai school.