How to Determine if Your Child is Ready for Sports
Tips on Finding a Youth Sports Program for your Child
Individual sporting activities and “non-traditional” team sports lead to wonderful learning experiences for children. Keeping your kids active and interacting more with peers are both valuable to a young child’s development. I was a competitive figure skater growing up. I competed individually and as part of a team so I had the best of both kinds of sporting experiences.
The Dallas / Ft Worth area has numerous options for all kinds of sports-related activities. Whether it is a program with lots of structure or a more casual atmosphere, you will find diverse choices such as swimming, dance, martial arts, gymnastics, ice-skating and more.
My almost 6 year old daughter takes ice skating lessons and has also tried Fall outdoor and indoor soccer. My now 3 1/2 year-old son played early Spring soccer as his first team sports experience. He loved it and it really started to set the basis for playing with other children and learning to follow directions as well as listening to a coach. We registered for Spring T-Ball (although it felt more like Summer with the heat). He definitely took to T-Ball and is anxious to start the Fall season. My kids were ready when we started, but for many kids that are 3 or even 4 years old, sports skills classes, group activities (and especially team sports) can be overwhelming. That is why it is so important as a parent to “listen” to your own child.
Before you get your kids involved in any kind of activity you need to ask yourself: is your child ready to enroll in a sports class? Secondly, you need to find the right class/location for you and your child, and make sure that the program and teachers fit your expectations.
Here are my tips for finding the right place for both you and your child. These tips are based on my 15 years of experience as a Skating Programs Director and, more importantly, as a mom of two youngsters!
Many classes start at age 3 (and potty trained) – but just because they start children that young does not mean it is right for YOUR child.
Ask yourself these questions before you get started: If you answer yes to them, your child is probably ready; if you answered no to any of them, you might want to wait 6 months and re-evaluate. (With that thought in mind, before you enroll, check the refund/credit policy of the class or ask if they offer a ‘try it’ class or a shorter session of lessons so you can see if your child likes it before you invest too much money in the activity).
- Can your child take direction from someone other than their parent?
- Has your child expressed interest in the particular sport (at home, watching TV)? When you ask if they would like to play a sport or take a class, what is your child’s reaction?
- Does your child do well taking turns?
- Does he play well with other children and as a general rule know how to share?
With so many businesses offering kids classes it may seem overwhelming at first. Here are my tips on narrowing it down and finding a good, quality program.
- Get a referral! Find a friend, acquaintance or co-worker that has had an experience at the location. Truly there is no better way to learn about a class/location than through someone that has had their child participate.
- Check out their website and Facebook page. Do they have information that is helpful and useful to you? What kind of content do they post? Are they informative and trying to connect with their customers?
- Read their program brochure for the rules and policies and the coaching/teacher credentials and bios.
- Visit in person! See for yourself. Is the place clean? Are you greeted by friendly staff members? Do the staff members care about your business and the well-being of your child?
- If you have specific questions pertaining to your child, speak directly to the program manager. The response should be courteous, helpful and timely.
- Observe a class in session. Watch the teachers and how they interact with the students.
- Consider the location relative to your house, work, or school.
- Can you get your child there on time?
- Is there convenient parking?
- Do they have a lobby or waiting area for parents?
Don’t forget … it is important to ask yourself, are you ready ? Do you have the time to commit to classes, games, practices. Even something that happens one day a week, you need to make sure it fits into your family schedule! Getting your kid involved in sports or activities should not be stressful experience.
In the end, don’t be afraid to go with that gut instinct you have as a parent. Even if you have had some great referrals, if it doesn’t fit YOUR expectations or if it doesn’t seem like the right place for YOUR child, try some place else. There are plenty of choices out there.
Check out some of our great clients that offer programs for young children. Activities Directory