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Tips to Knowing if your Child is ready for Sports Activities

Submitted by on September 14, 2011 – 10:36 amOne Comment

by Liz Mangelsdorf

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 and we think PSA offers great choices for your kids. Whether it is a program with lots of structure or a more casual outing, you will find diverse choices, such as swimming, dance, martial arts, gymnastics, ice-skating and more.

My almost 5 year old daughter takes ice skating lessons, is gearing up for Fall soccer, and just began ballet/tap this month (Yes, I know – probably too much – but soccer is only 8 weeks away, and after that ice skating and ballet will be our focus until next summer!)

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 important, as a mom of two preschoolers!

Most 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).

Can your child take direction from someone other than their parent?
Have they expressed interest in the particular sport (at home, watching TV)? When you ask if they would like to play a sport/take a class what is their reaction?
Does your child do well taking turns?
Does she 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?
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 and we encourage to start with your community organizations like PSAPlano.org.

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