Sports for Kids: Why and How Much?
Sports for Kids: Why and How Much?
To many parents, sports may seem to be a natural solution if you have highly active children that need to work off all that boundless energy. But whether your child is more athletic or just active, or even neither of the two, there are many benefits to encouraging your child to participate in a sport. Benefits apply to both individual and group sports, and it is not necessary for your child to be able to excel in a sport or participate competitively.
A good sport
Rather, playing sports is fun! And fun is paramount to all children’s enjoyment. But beyond just another form of play, sports have the advantage of also teaching children to understand the following of rules and building of discipline. Group sports, especially, provide a greater opportunity for children to make more friends, and further develop their social skills. They get to pick up on the value of teamwork and maybe a little extra on leadership skills. Above all, they have the chance to learn what it is to be a good sport.
Healthy body, beautiful mind
Picking up a sport does not just foster motor skills and keep children healthy, it also encourages them to continue being active, and exercise regularly throughout their life. It helps to instil in them a healthy body image, and the practise of healthy lifestyle habits, such as staying away from smoking and drugs. Sports are also great for de-stressing and letting off steam in both children and adults alike.
If you follow the Harvard theory of multiple intelligences (MI), then sports have the ability to help develop several MIs at the same time, such as bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences (more about MIs here in our article about learning to play music).
What kind of sports are available for kids in Singapore?
Here in Singapore, we are fortunate to have such a vast array of sports available for children to explore – everything from badminton to basketball and bowling, from swimming to soccer, tennis to taekwondo, and then some like rock-climbing, horse-riding, sailing, go-karting, golf, or fencing. Recently, two Singaporean teenagers even came out tops in indoor skydiving at the 2016 Bodyflight World Challenge in the UK.
Is 5 too young?
But how much might be too much and how young might be too young? Some health experts feel that organised sports may not be suitable both physically and mentally for children under the age of 5. Children below that age are still developing the fundamentals of movement and coordination. Hence, keeping them in free play might be better to allow them exploration through unrestricted movement as compared to the fixed rigours or routine of any particular sport.
For those who feel otherwise about starting earlier on sports, the key then could be to ensure a non-competitive environment for the child to safely explore, and have activities adapted accordingly to fit each age and development level.
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Singapore Teens Top International Indoor Skydiving Competition (The New Paper, 10 Apr 2016)
10 Reasons Kids should Play Sports (Huffington Post, 11 Mar 2015)
10 Benefits of Playing Sports (Families.com)
Sports for Preschoolers: How Young is Too Young? (CBC/Radio Canada, 19 Feb 2015)
Barely Walking Yet, but Kicking a Soccer Ball (ABC News, 29 Jul 2011)