Many sports programs begin introducing preschoolers to the activity at the age of 3. Some programs, like swimming and baby yoga, encourage parents and babies to attend together as early as 6 months old.
You might be asking yourself: What is a good activity for my child? How do I encourage her without pressuring her to participate in too many activities?
A good place to start is local community education or YMCA programs. When beginning a sport at this age, preschoolers should be less concerned about winning, rules or competing and more focused on trying new things. As preschoolers, children don’t understand the concept of keeping score. Introducing a sport is more about finding out if your child likes or dislikes it. It is essential that parents and coaches make the activity fun for children so they don’t get turned off to all sports later in life.
The main emphasis in any activity class should be learning how to follow directions and listen to the teacher. At their age, preschoolers won’t be learning the intricacies of the sport and most likely won’t understand its small details. Instead, they should learn how to take turns, use equipment and try new skills. Children at this age should mostly practice skills like running, kicking and possibly catching.
To motivate your young athlete, be a good role model. Encourage your child to try and not give up. Don’t allow your child to say “I can’t.” Instead, motivate him by showing him what he is good at and praise him when he tries something new, even if he doesn’t execute the skill perfectly. Preschoolers should be encouraged to have fun while practicing the new skills they have learned.
It’s also important to realize that preschoolers are still learning coordination as well as fine and large motor skills. Some kids in class might be able to execute a kick or run perfectly while your child isn’t quite there. This is OK. Encourage your child to develop at her own speed and on her own timeline.
Some of the best sports for children to begin as preschoolers include running, gymnastics, T-ball, dance, soccer and swimming. These sports are non-competitive for youngsters and teach them to follow directions. Adults should try to find coaches who are encouraging rather than strict. You can also play sports at home to teach your child.
Sports can be fun and rewarding. Take time to introduce your child to a variety of activities and sports. Allow him to choose which ones he likes and which ones he doesn’t.
Remember to follow his lead and you will have a sportastic experience!
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2012