For children to grow and develop into healthy individuals there needs to be a reasonable balance between work and play. Sports play an important part in the development of children.
Benefits of sports
Participation in sports helps children to:
- Maintain good health: Unlike academics, sport is both physical and cerebral. Involvement in sports helps children develop physically. Outdoor sports encourage them to be out in the open air. The discipline associated with sports teaches them healthy habits such as right eating and exercising.
- Cultivate team spirit: Most outdoor games involve teamwork. They teach children how to coordinate with peers to fulfil a common task or accomplish a common goal. This involves superior communication skills, the capacity to assess situations, and the ability to take immediate and critical decisions. Children will require these skills when they finish school and step out into the professional world.
- Become confident: Taking part in sports can boost children's morale. Children realise that being selected to represent their school in a tournament is an honour and a responsibility. Their ability to fulfil this responsibility instils confidence in them. Children who are into sports are known to display confidence in other areas of their life, such as academics, making friends, and relationships with adults.
- Cope with failure: Sports is as much about winning as about losing. It helps children not just to accept failures, but also to learn from them. Participation in sports teaches children to cultivate perseverance and single-mindedly pursue their goals.
Surpass limitations: Sports is not just about beating an opponent; it is about surpassing individual capacities. Playing a competitive sport helps children to know their limitations and work towards overcoming them. It helps them to develop the spirit of continuous self-improvement.
Ways to encourage participation
In order to introduce children to sports, you first need to find out which sports would be appropriate for them. Most children usually have natural preferences. They may be drawn towards team sports such as football or hockey, or prefer individual sports such as athletics, swimming, or cycling. Exposing them to different sports is a good way to determine their inclinations.
Age is also an important factor. Each age bracket would have its own preference of sporting activities.
Age two to four
Children in this age group are still mastering complex movements such as running and jumping. Playing on swings, sliding boards, and see-saws is ideal for them. They can also be allowed to play about in a shallow pool of water, though always under parental supervision. They may also learn to ride a tricycle or a bicycle with supporting wheels.
Age five to seven
Children at this age are surer about their movements and are keen to explore the range of movements they can perform. Dancing, skipping, tossing, and catching a ball are typical activities they will enjoy at this age.
Age nine to twelve
This is the right age for children to start playing games such as badminton, tennis, cricket, football, volleyball, etc.
These are some tips to help you foster the sporting spirit in your child:
- While introducing your child to sports, it helps to start early. Watch your child as he develops, for clues on where his aptitude lies.
- It is important that your child enjoys the sport he plays. Forcing a child into sports may put him off the idea of playing completely.
- Look for a coach who can inculcate a passion for the sport in his students. Such a teacher is better than one who emphasises winning at any cost.
- Take an active interest in your child's sporting achievements. Ask him questions, attend some practice sessions, and be there at tournaments to applaud his efforts.
- In case, your child prefers some other extra-curricular activity—such as art, music, or theatre—in preference to sports, accept his wish. The important thing is to understand that it is his involvement in these activities that helps him develop into a balanced individual.
Image Credit : Daily Health