With every rushing minivan, loaded snack cooler, and stray soccer ball that passes, the question beckons: “Is my child ready for organized sports?”
The answer is more complex than one may think. Some parents eagerly scribble their child’s name on the nearest sign-up sheet while others simply resolve to wait until next fall, but the decision on whether or not to embark on the path of organized sports is full of pros and cons. All of these require careful consideration.
PRO! Opportunity for much-needed exercise: It is recommended that children get one hour of exercise per day. According to the Get Kids in Action organization, “Children who get the appropriate amount of daily exercise also enjoy the ability to sleep better as well as reduce stress levels.” Kids, on average, spend 5½ hours per day on media-driven activities. While participation in an organized sport can’t singlehandedly check off the “exercise” box on the to-do list, it’s a good start.
CON- The schedule dilemma: Obviously, organized sports can put a burden on the family’s schedule. The chaos of numerous practices, scrimmages, and games can be overwhelming. If you decide to pursue a sport, you can limit this by organizing a carpooling schedule and a rotating snack plan to relieve some of the burden. (SignUpGenius can help!)
PRO! Values Learned: Playing a sport is a great way to instill values like working as a team, winning and losing gracefully, giving your best at all times, and so many others. Sports also give your child the opportunity to bond with other kids her age who share similar interests. You can keep life simple by planning team parties with the help of SignUpGenius to help further develop those friendships made on the field.
CON- The money dilemma: Many club sports demand significant amounts of cash before handing over the uniform. For families who don’t have the dollars on hand, organizations sometimes offer scholarships or multiple sibling discounts. Another option is to check out rec or community center programs that tend to be less expensive. Talk to parents in your community who have children currently on a team to find the most ideal programs.
Organize team snack schedules and carpools for sports games with sign ups. Learn HOW.
PRO! Safety first: Unlike a neighborhood pickup game, organized sports have set safety guidelines in addition to rules geared toward the protection of each age group. Competitors are matched evenly and games are equipped with coaches, referees, and necessary, standard-meeting equipment.
CON- A child under pressure: Studies show that children have never before experienced such full schedules, and adding a sport into the mix could add undue stress. Before signing the consent forms, take a long, hard look at your child’s schedule. Does the sport need to be crammed between other extracurricular activities? Is your child facing a year with more homework than normal? Then taking on an organized sport may not be the best option at this time. Ask your child what she thinks. If you aren’t completely sure how she’ll do with another activity, her reaction may help you decide.
PRO! Parental Support: Enrolling your child in a sport and making an effort to attend games will serve as a source of encouragement for him. If you can control your competitive urge and set reachable goals for your child, he’s going to appreciate your support. Helping children through the triumphs and trials of organized sports has the potential to strengthen your family to face other life obstacles, too.
IMPORTANT~ Maturity matters: This is perhaps the most crucial aspect to consider. Observe the level of your child’s development both physically and psychologically. Is he ready for some level of competition? Does he enjoy working with a team towards a common goal? While sports can help a child grow in these areas, you want him to be at a place where he’s ready and able to grow instead of become discouraged. If you aren’t sure about your child’s physical readiness, consult with your pediatrician.
Whether you decide to sign up your child or have her sit this season out, remember that SignUpGenius is ready to help you organize carpools, snack rotations, and parties of any kind when it’s game time. Play on!