5 Reasons Sports Are Important for Childhood Development
There’s nothing cuter than a field full of tiny tots playing a sport. On the surface, it’s just a great way for kids to be active and have fun, but did you know that playing sports is an important part of childhood development?
Let’s look at five reasons why sports play such an important role in child development.
1. Valuable Life Skills
Being a part of a team encourages the development of life skills including sharing, cooperation, teamwork, and even the art of winning and losing gracefully. These skills are provided in the spirit of fair play, which helps them build their sense of morality and principles.
On a broader level, playing sports teaches children the importance of rules and gives them an increased ability to focus and pay attention to their world.
2. Increases Social Interaction
By interacting with other children on the team, kids will have access to other kids who share a common interest. Many times, these kids will forge friendships and bonds not just with team mates, but also with members of the other teams.
Your child’s coach may provide an inspirational role model for kids, giving them someone outside your family group to look up to and depend on.
3. Physical Benefits
Of course, playing sports is important for a child’s physical development as well. It’s recommended that older kids, between the ages of six and seventeen, receive an hour of physical activity per day while younger kids should remain active all day. Each week should involve a mixture of bone and muscle strengthening exercises as well as periods of aerobic activities.
Warm-up exercises, as well as on-the-field activities, keep your child active and healthy while encouraging them to develop healthy lifestyle habits that will follow them throughout their lives.
4. Building Self-Esteem and Confidence
A good coach uses words of encouragement to help players build self-confidence and esteem. Kids learn to rely on their own abilities and to trust in others to achieve goals. They gain confidence as they learn to improve their game and receive support from teammates and coaches.
Never allow the child’s self-esteem to be focused on winning or losing. Instead, encourage them to continue to play their sport and to find enjoyment in the gameplay itself rather than winning.
5. Improved Educational Performance
Studies have shown an increase in academic achievement among students who play sports. Generally, these kids have an increase in cognition, focus, and attention. Additionally, kids who participate in sports will also be better positioned to work cooperatively with classmates and demonstrate leadership skills in the classroom.
If that’s not enough motivation to encourage your kids to play sports, consider this: Kids who play sports are more likely to pursue higher education and receive a degree.
The Best Sports for Your Child’s Age
You don’t expect your five-year-old to be the guard on the local basketball team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy sports. Here is a breakdown of age-appropropriate sports for your child.
Under 6: Your child is still working on things such as balance and hand-eye coordination, and may not have the mental maturity to understand the nuances of team play. It’s best to introduce them to the concept of sports through unstructured play, such as swimming, dancing, running, and catching or throwing a ball.
Ages 6 to 10: Now your child is increasing their ability to focus and concentrate for longer periods of time. In addition, they’re becoming far more capable of following directions and learning how to maneuver objects for speed and distance. Your 6 to 10 year old is now ready to begin an introduction to organized sport such as tennis, football, soccer, gymnastics, or martial arts.
Ages 10 plus: Your child now has better balance and coordination, along with an ability to understand more complex ideas such as strategy, rules, and gameplay. At this point, sports such as volleyball, basketball, football and hockey can be encouraged in a competitive environment.
As you can see, sports can play an integral part in childhood development. Remember that your child’s preferences are fluid, and they may bounce from sport to sport until they find one that “sticks.” Encourage your child to explore all forms of sports during their developmental years.