It’s that time of year again – new uniform, new class – with it often a new teacher – and for some kids September also means starting at a new school or even starting school for the first time. September’s always a busy time for mums and dads, getting their kids settled into the school routine after a long and lazy summer at home.
One of the things that comes as part and parcel of going back to school is the extra-curricular activities; helping kids choose out of school activities that they’ll enjoy and benefit from during the school year.
Today there’s a huge amount of choice for after-school and weekend activities, so you have to balance and make sure that the kids get to do what they want to do, along with how much time you can dedicate to the activities and also, not forgetting, that they get to have some completely free time to relax too.
Team sports are a great choice for kids for lots of different reasons. You may have a child who resists the idea at first, but that’s probably all the more reason to encourage them to give a team sport a go. They may fear not being good enough to play for a team, but the only way they’ll improve is by participating. They may not like the idea of being taught or coached by someone they don’t know – but it’s also good for them to interact with grown-ups who aren’t their teacher or parents.
Of course, playing a team sport has lots of benefits; here are just some of them.
Becoming a team player
By playing a team sport like rugby league, football, hockey or netball, children learn how to cooperate with others and how to work together. For a child who is a bad loser, a team sport like rugby league or football can really help them accept that it’s not just about whether you win or lose, it’s about how much you enjoy playing the game. Losing in a team isn’t as devastating as losing a single player sport – the child feels less personal ‘blame’ in the loss and if they see that other players aren’t too worried about losing, they’ll realise that winning isn’t the only factor in participating. Hopefully, this should make them better sports when they lose at a board game, too. And, of course, there’ll be plenty of times when the team shares the joys of victory.
This will also help in later life should your child turn into a sports fanatic and place the occasional bet on rugby league, union, football or any other sports – of both team and single player requirements. They will likely learn that winning isn’t the most important part and thus stray away from placing rash and regretful bets, opting instead to do the mature thing and bet what they can afford/want to stake.
Developing coordination skills
Playing a ball sport or any sport that requires hand/eye coordination will help all children develop better skills. Even if your child can’t catch a ball reliably, that’s no reason to stop them taking part in a team sport that involves catching and throwing, or kicking and dribbling a ball. Much of the time spent at practice will work on those key skills and all children will benefit from this extra practice. A child who has poor coordination will improve over time and you’ll probably notice that they become generally more physically adept away from the sports pitch too.
Feeling the fear and doing it anyway
Many children are naturally shy and don’t like joining in. In some ways, these are the kids who can benefit most of all from taking part in a team sport. After the initial session, they’ll see that joining in isn’t so bad, and actually, quite a lot of fun. Sports coaches are usually great at bringing the quieter kids out of their shells and making sure that everyone feels included. You may find that your child grows in confidence quite markedly from taking part in a team sport, and that the new-found confidence will show in other places too – such as in the classroom and on the playground.
It may be that your child starts one sport and realises that it’s not the one for them. There’s nothing wrong with them changing their mind, but make sure that they give each new sport enough of a chance before they decide to give up on it. Soon enough, they’ll find the sport that suits them best and who knows, they may turn out to be great at it.