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There’s no comparison of the benefits of sports, when it comes to extracurricular activities for kids. Indoor or outdoor, joining a sports team helps children stay active, practice and learn sportsmanship, improve social skills and concentration, and develop a healthy hobby they can enjoy for life. Of course, not all sports or children are created equal. To match your child with the right sport, consider her size, age, skills, abilities, and above all, her interests. Begin with casually exposing your child to a variety of physical activities and let the child's response and enthusiasm act as a guide to further commitment. Also, look at how your child spends their playtime. What do they enjoy playing with and how do they enjoy playing with it? Your child may have a natural inclination toward a specific sport and you can determine what that is by watching them play.
Once you figure out what your child is interested in, determine if your child has the physique, coordination and temperament to play that sport. Your child may become frustrated if you enroll them in a sport that they are not physically capable of playing well. Likewise, if your child does better playing by him or herself, enrolling him or her in a team sport may not be the best idea. Consider activities like swimming, gymnastics, golf or tennis if your child prefers to compete by him or herself.
Consider what is age-appropriate? Some sports and activities are too challenging for little ones to handle.
When considering a particular sport or program, remember:
Preschoolers have shorter attention spans and aren't ready for games or team sports with rules.
Try individual activities like swimming, and make sure each child gets lots of opportunity to play
and move during classes. That means a low child: teacher (or coach) ratio, so that kids don't sit
on the sidelines waiting their turn for too long.
Kids between 5 and 7 years old can begin to learn games with rules, but look for a program that
strongly emphasizes sportsmanship and fun over winning. At this age, kids need to work on agility,
strength, and hand-eye coordination. Non-contact sports such as skating, soccer, swimming, martial
arts or gymnastics are all good possibilities.
Eight- to 10-year-olds are ready to play competitive sports. They are old enough to develop strong
skills, understand rules, and be part of a team.
Teens and tweens, with proper precautions, can play contact sports.
Be careful not to overwhelm your child by involving them in too many sports. A good rule of thumb is to only involve your child in one sport per season. It’s important to expose your child to many different sports so they can discover what they really enjoy doing. As they get older, your child should focus on one or two sports, but when they are young, allow them to explore the many different opportunities available to them through different sports. During this process of introducing your child to sports, be careful not to put too much pressure on your son or daughter to do and be what you want them to do and be. Your child is a unique individual with his or her own interests and may simply not be interested in playing the sport that you love to play. Therefore, it is very important to support your son or daughter’s interests and allow your child to explore.