'I've been a teacher for 8 years. Some of our most important lessons happen outside the classroom.'

Thanks to our brand partner, NRL's AMPOL LITTLE ORIGIN

“These kids have just learnt absolutely everything there is to learn, my work here is done." 

That's something you’ll never hear a teacher say. 

We may in fact dream about it, but when it comes to kids, there is always more for them to absorb and strengthen their skills on. And, in the context of the classroom, not always enough time to do it. 

That's why as a teacher and a mum of three school-aged kids, I see so much value in the learning that takes place outside of the classroom, in ‘real life’ (or IRL, as the kids actually say). The added bonus? Much of this outside school learning has such a positive impact when they land back in the classroom. And you know, life beyond school, too.

I've been a teacher for over 8 years, and here are the 4 crucial skills kids learn outside of the classroom that can help them reach their full potential as students (and future adults).

1. Decision making.

Decision-making skills are employed on a daily basis outside of the classroom in *the real world* – even our youngest students are flexing their decision-making skills likely without even realising it. 

Take, for example, the usual morning madness before school starts. Our kids make decisions about what version of their uniform to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what they need to pack in their bags, and, for older students, what equipment they may need for extracurricular activities like music or sport, before even leaving the house. 


They're constantly computing all the resources available to them and information taken from their environment to make the best decision for their circumstances; a skill that they can then transfer to the school learning environment. 

Encourage your kids to make decisions for themselves when and where they can. This allows them to be active participants in their own lives and helps build their confidence in their own decision making, a skill that will continue to strengthen as they get older.

2. Teamwork and fairness.

For many kids, weekday or weekend sport is a rite of passage. Team sport gives kids the chance to spend time with their mates and enjoy the competitive and social aspect of sport, while also teaching crucial lessons about teamwork, fairness and good sportsmanship. For many kids, organised sport may give them their first taste of what it feels like to win and lose, and how to react to each context accordingly. 

It may also give them important insights into what being a good teammate or team player looks like as well as introducing them to a whole host of positive role models to look to. 

Opportunities like NRL’s Ampol Little Origin 2023 experience builds on these lessons, and will see Year 5 and Year 6 students from ten lucky schools win the chance to don a Blues or Maroons jersey at the Ampol State of Origin and Women’s State of Origin series to live out their rugby league dreams. Think gold category tickets to the game, taking to the field at halftime, a hands-on skills clinic with a variety of NRL legends (including Sam Thaiday!) and a $5,000 cash grant for their school and their health and wellbeing program.


Initiatives like this can have such a positive impact on kids' sense of pride and achievement outside of the traditionally academic part of their schooling, in having them work in their peers and school team to come together and work towards a common goal.

3. Conflict resolution.

Within the school environment, conflict resolution is generally handled by the adults. 

Friendship dramas and in-class squabbles are mediated and resolved largely by the teacher. This is, of course, important in creating a happy and safe learning environment, but also means that conflict resolution skills amongst the kids themselves aren’t always honed. 

It's one of the most important skills they're going to learn in and out of the classroom to help them move through life.

Having kids participate in extracurricular activities and sports that involve interactions with others are both important ways that kids develop their own conflict resolution skills. Particularly: learning how to unpack and solve issues in a way that is fair and equitable for everyone involved (with the safety net of an adult should the need arise). 

Knowing how to defuse a tense situation, restore calm and meditate when necessary are incredibly important skills for our kids to develop, especially as they get older and move into high school and adulthood. Giving them the chance to practice these skills outside of school in a safe environment is a great way to build confidence.


4. Problem solving.

Sally wants to go to Jenny’s house after school. Both girls' parents have okayed the playdate but Jenny has dancing at 4.30pm and lives quite far away from the dance studio which will cut into play time. What can the girls do to ensure the maximum time for playing is available? 

This is the kind of ‘real world’ problem that probably seems incredibly trivial at surface value, but that our kids should be encouraged to ‘solve’. Problem-solving skills don’t just apply to maths and science but in pretty much every aspect of life. 

Working out which birthday present they can afford with the money saved or allotted budget, how much cash they need for ice block day at the canteen, and playdate logistics. Many day-to-day scenarios involving your kids can have an element of problem-solving, allow them to flex that muscles and see their solutions play out in real-time. 

(And, in case you were wondering: Sally and Jenny decided to go to Sally’s house because it was much closer to the dance studio which meant they could maximise their time playing together and then walk together to dancing at 4.25pm! Genius.)

Back for its third edition, NRL's Ampol Little Origin 2023 offers NSW, QLD & SA schools a once in a lifetime experience to be a part of Ampol State of Origin. Applications from schools close April 6.

Feature Image: Getty.

Rugby League loving kids dream about emulating their sporting heroes to don the jersey of the Blues or Maroons on the big stage at State of Origin.
At Ampol, we want to turn these dreams into reality by giving kids the opportunity to be a part of the biggest show on earth, Ampol Little Origin. Not only does Ampol Little Origin provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for future rugby stars, a $5,000 school grant helps to provide the much-needed funding required to support grassroot community initiatives and improve the quality of education for young children.