Parenting: Benefits of team sports
March 23, 2012 (WPVI) -- My six year old son, Luke, just finished his second session playing roller hockey.
He wasn't the top scorer, fastest skater or best at handling the puck but he got countless benefits out of his experience playing on a team.
First and most obvious, is the exercise. "Activity Guidelines for Children" indicates the need for at least 60 minutes of physical activity for children and up to several hours per day for pre-adolescents.
If you ever watch roller hockey practice or a game, you see the children working up a good sweat (and loving it.)
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports says the personal rewards a child gains from playing sports can last a lifetime. A child can benefit from simply playing a game he enjoys even if he does not always win the game.
Organized sports can teach children the value of working hard to reach a desired goal. Sports can also teach children the importance of learning new things in order to have the ability to compete against another team.
Finding an age-appropriate sport is key. "Kids Health: Signing Kids up for Sports" states that there are sports programs designed for preschoolers. However it's not until about age six or seven that most kids develop the appropriate physical skills or the attention span needed to listen to directions and grasp the rules of the game.
While preschoolers can throw and run, it takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. It usually isn't until kindergarten or first grade that kids grasp concepts like "taking turns" that are crucial to many sports.
In addition, athletics teach children good sportsmanship and how to be a contributing member of a team. My son had to follow directions from the coaches, including stepping off the ice immediately when asked and accepting a penalty, even if it's a "bad call."
My favorite part of every game was at the end, when they would shake the hands of the opposing team members . Learning how to respect others on the rink or the playing field, can spill over into other aspects of life.
cecily tynan parenting reports, holidays, parenting, cecily tynan
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