How Sports Can Aid Your Child’s Development
Guidelines recommend that preschool children who can walk on their own are physically active for three hours a day. There’s no doubt that physical activity in early childhood can greatly enhance young children’s growth and development and lead to a healthy body in adulthood, being associated with proper body posture, stronger bones and muscles, and better cardiovascular and respiratory function. It also kick-starts healthy habits that children can pursue throughout their lives (studies show that children with higher levels of physical activity in early life are more likely to remain active throughout their lives) and dramatically reduces the risks of a child developing obesity, or diabetes and heart disease later in life. On top, organised sports can contribute to psychological well-being, cognitive development (concentration), social skills and emotional maturity. What’s not to love? What are the particular benefits of team sports for preschoolers?
allow children to realise the importance of teamwork. There’s no “I” in team, as they say! No goal can be scored unless everyone works together. Even toddlers work out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and soon learn the benefits of coming up with the best plan for the team.
develop self-esteem. A compliment, a cheer, or even a simple nod of approval from a teammate or coach all build confidence.
promote good communication skills. Sports put young children in situations where they have to express themselves and because they are developing greater self-esteem, they are more likely to communicate with confidence.
help to form and maintain strong relationships. Team sports encourage a sense of camaraderie as well as a sense of belonging. Children meet different characters and learn how to socialise with them all.
teach respect. Children come to respect rules, as there may be penalties for bad behaviour and poor discipline. They also learn to listen to the coach or team captain and to take orders. A sense of fairness can develop, and children may start to respect someone not necessarily in their team. All are lessons that will be of use when they start school and in later life.
teach children how to accept disappointment. A lost game does not need to be something to cry about, the game can still have been fun. What's important is trying again.
teach leadership skills. Children grow to realise that a leader isn’t always the person who is best at something. It might be someone who is a role model.
However, whilst organised sports at the nursery or in clubs are great, informal activity can be worked into a preschool child’s everyday life. Here’s how…
Create active games between siblings, with friends or with yourself. Tag is always a good one, also musical statues, musical bumps, ping pong ball catch, crossing the room in as many ways as you can – skipping, rolling, hopping, backwards, crawling, etc.
Try regularly throwing or kicking a ball with your child to identify any natural skill!
Create an obstacle course in the garden or around the house – jumping over cushions, wriggling under blankets, zig-zagging between rolled up socks laid on the grass, jumping into hoops, running with rice bags on heads, walking on a string line on the floor.
If you’re watching television, get everyone busy during the adverts! We're talking star jumps, marching on the spot, squats.
Turn the music up and dance wildly together.
Hold some old-fashioned races: egg and spoon, bean bag, hopping, tricycle. You might even win!
Above all, lead the way and let your child see you enjoying physical activity and sport.
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