Aug 06 , 2020
Sports activities are a great way to help your child get some exercise, learn teamwork skills, and build confidence. Even if your child isn’t ready for competitions and team sports just yet, you can still bond and develop critical physical and developmental skills simply by playing together at home or at the local park. Your child is sure to enjoy hours of fun and learn a lot when he gets the chance to engage in fun sports activities with parents, friends, and relatives.
When Is My Child Ready for Sports?
Kids younger than 6 might benefit more from sports classes than team sports as this will help them better learn to follow directions and work together with others. On the other hand, you may also want to consider enrolling your child in sports programs or leagues that accommodate younger children. If you aren’t sure of leaving your child in the care of coaches and other guardians, you can also build your child’s love of fitness simply by playing games at home. Children as young as 2 or 3 will benefit a lot from simple and fun activities like kicking a ball around or playing tag.
Your child’s temperament is another key factor that can affect whether or not they’re ready for sports. If your child has a tough time playing with others or dealing with separation anxiety, he or she might not be ready to do sports classes and team sports activities. But if your child is able to stay calm even while they’re separated from you, and if he’s able to share and be more patient with others, you can definitely test the waters and try enrolling them in a class.
Since rules and instructions are key elements of sports, you’ll also want to observe how good your child is at memorizing and following rules. Some kids may cope fine with abiding by simple rules, while others may have a tough time coping with a team-oriented environment. It’s also important to figure out whether or not your child is comfortable with audiences and coaches putting some attention on him during games. If your child is prone to being anxious in front of an audience, you may want to hold off classes and competitions for now.
Of course, it’s essential for parents not to pressure their kids into doing activities they aren’t that interested in. Before enrolling your child in a class or team, let him watch a few games and talk with older siblings first. This will help him be more aware of the nature of sports and give him a better idea of what to expect. You’ll also want to ask your child whether they’re comfortable playing in a team or doing something by themselves. Watching how your child reacts to questions and being familiar with their attitude towards competition will ensure they don’t feel stressed while doing a new activity.
What Sports Are Best for Preschoolers?
Preschool-aged kids may have a ton of energy, but they still need time to refine their essential gross and fine motor skills. It’s also best to give them plenty of time to understand rules and structure before enrolling them in competitions and team sports activities.
A low-pressure environment where kids get to build motor skills, coordination, and confidence is most ideal for preschoolers. Here are some great sports activities that you and your child can try out at home or at the park:
- Playing tag and running
- Games with lots of jumps, hops, and skips.
- Throwing and catching balls.
- Swimming in a safe, shallow pool.
- Tumbling on grass or padded ground.
- Exploring with a tricycle or bike
- Climbing and playing around with playground equipment.
If you’re more inclined to enroll your child in a sports class, you may want to consider sports that focus more on simple, individual movements than complex strategies or competition. Gymnastics, Swimming, and Karate are great individual sports that can help your child become fit in both body and mind. Soccer is also a great sport for kids who are more social and team-oriented.
Sports Safety Tips for Preschoolers
As kids become more and more involved in fun sports activities they become more prone to injuries and accidents. Fortunately, you can avoid serious situations during playtime by following these essential sports safety tips:
1. Wear Protective Gear
Athletes are required to wear proper protective gear in any intense sport. When your child becomes more involved in team games and practice, be sure to suit them up with the right gear for the job. Protective equipment like helmets, cups, and knee and elbow pads are the best pieces of equipment to use for injury-free play. You can also consult your child’s coach and pediatrician for additional protective measures your child might need to take.
2. Get Rid of Defective Gear
Heavily damaged helmets and pads won’t offer the protection your child needs during sports. As much as possible, check on the equipment your child uses for signs of wear and tear. Avoid making your child use tight or uncomfortable equipment as this may cause more injuries and discomfort during play.
It might be better to buy your child’s equipment yourself than relying on shared equipment at the gym to avoid any damage or accidents due to defects. However, if you have no choice but to let your child use shared equipment, keep in touch with his coach, and check for possible signs of injury daily.
3. Be Informed
Read up on guides and information regarding first-aid and avoiding serious injuries. Since your child will most likely be in the care of coaches for most of the day, you’ll need to stay vigilant for injuries that coaches or teachers might have missed. It’s also best to consult your child’s teacher or coach regarding plans and procedures for accidents during practice or games.
4. Keep Your Child Hydrated
Your child will be more prone to constant sweating during games or practice. To prevent any heat-related illnesses and dehydration, make sure to pack enough water in your child’s bag before practice. You can also check up on sports facilities beforehand to make sure they’re cool and properly ventilated.
5. Be A Good Role Model
Your child's attitude and temperament during sports activities will depend on what he observes. When it's time to play at home, wear protective gear to teach your child the importance of safety. Make sure to avoid any aggressive behavior at home, too. This will ensure your child doesn't encounter problems with anger or selfish behavior while playing with his teammates.
Sports Safety During COVID-19
Sports centers, gyms, and after-school sports programs are slowly reopening around the world. Many parents, coaches, and athletes will need to follow proper safety procedures as more and more kids resume their participation in sports during the global COVID-19 Pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created a guide that families can follow in order to lower health risks and mitigate the spread of disease among young athletes. Here are some quick reminders to keep in mind when it’s time for your child to return to sports. You can also click here to read the full guide.
Should My Child Get A COVID-19 Test?
The CDC does not recommend antibody testing and COVID-19 testing for kids who haven’t been exposed to anyone infected with SARS-CoV-2. Your child won’t have to deal with these tests before practice and competitions as long as he practices proper safety protocols and avoids exposure to any infected people.
However, if you believe your family may have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, you’ll have to report to local health care authorities and keep everyone at home until the CDC-recommended quarantine period has passed. Informing coaches, fellow athletes, and other concerned people is also vital as this will ensure proper testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols are followed without delay.
How Do I Lower the Risks?
The CDC advises parents, athletes, spectators, officials, and coaches to comply with key safety procedures to ensure health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some measures that should be taken during practices, competitions, and events include:
- Prioritize activities where proper social distancing can be maintained, such as drills and conditioning.
- Wear cloth face masks and coverings during activities where social distancing cannot always be maintained.
- Enforce regular handwashing and other proper hygiene practices, as well as proper respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing into a handkerchief and wearing a mask at all times). Handwashing stations and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should be available to everyone.
- Practice in small groups to limit any risk of outbreaks. Remind athletes to stick to assigned groups instead of mixing with others during practice.
- Minimize out-of-town travel as much as possible.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Limit the sharing of equipment, as well as the use of locker rooms and other communal spaces.
- Avoid practicing or competing in poorly-ventilated and compact areas since the risk of COVID-19 transmission may be higher. Open doors and windows, as well as fans, should be used to increase ventilation whenever possible.
- Discourage athletes from sharing food and drinks. Instead, make sure everyone brings their own snacks and water bottles.
When Should My Child Wear A Face Mask?
Coaches, officials, spectators, and volunteers should wear a cloth face mask or similar face coverings at all times. Since social distancing isn’t always easy to follow in gyms, stadiums, and other sports facilities, everyone should wear proper coverings while attending practice and competitions.
Athletes have to wear a face mask when they aren’t participating in rigorous exercise. Keeping your face covered during intense physical or water-related activities isn’t recommended as this may cause injuries due to obscured vision or problems with breathing. Kids who are younger than 2 years old are also not advised to wear face coverings. It’s best to consult local health authorities, coaches, and officials in case you need to make any special considerations for your child.
Should Parents Attend Games?
Parents, friends, and relatives may attend games as long as they follow safety regulations and wear face masks at all times. Outdoor events may be safer since outbreaks are less likely in areas with wide spaces and ventilation.
Anyone exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend any sports event even as a spectator. People with high-risk health conditions should also avoid attending events where proper social distancing can’t be maintained. Watching live streams and recordings of events at home is much safer for anyone at risk of health problems.