Would you love your little one to get into sport, but don't really know which discipline is right for their age? Stay right there, I've got a few tips for you…Is your nipper climbing, jumping, crawling, and exploring all of their physical abilities, but struggling to channel their energy? Do they love computer games but struggle to stick to a particular activity? Joëlle Jolly, a sport and health instructor who knows all too well the benefits of exercise for children, has given me a few tips to help your kids take up a sport and have plenty of fun!
1. A Taste For Moving Around
You can still get your child to do physical activity each day without necessarily signing up to a sports club. "A walk in the forest, visiting the park, or even going up the stairs gives little ones a great playground for developing their motor skills," explains Joëlle. "Physical activity can definitely start at home. It's a great setting for giving your child a taste for moving around. Blowing soap bubbles, for example, is actually a great way of training their breathing!"
2. Their First Activities
Besides riding to school on a hobby horse or jumping between the white stripes on a zebra crossing, your child can go swimming from the age of four months if they are up to date with their vaccinations. Baby swimming classes are available everywhere, as well as baby gym classes, for kids aged two and up. "Baby swimming is a great chance to get them out of the house and enjoy a parent-child experience that gets them used to the water from an early age." Like with baby gym, which is designed to help tots learn motor skills, playing in the swimming pool helps them build their coordination and understand and control their body's physical abilities!
3. Give Them a Challenge
From age three and up, all sorts of new possibilities are on offer, from tennis to judo, team sports and agility sports. "Between the ages of three and six, children are still at a stage where they will choose a discipline to have fun. You shouldn't specialise them in a particular field. Instead, you should let them try lots of things," says Joëlle.
From the age of six or seven, they can start to focus on one particular discipline. "You shouldn't overload them with activities or put too much pressure on them. Sport should remain enjoyable," she explains. "Open days at sports clubs are a great way of letting kids find an activity they like. If they join the club, they need to understand how long their membership lasts (e.g. one year) to give them a sense of responsibility." If they don't seem particularly interested, get them to join the same team or the same club as their friends, who might persuade them to give it a try!
4. Are Competitions the Next Step?
If your child really loves one particular sport, from the age of eight or nine they could start taking part in competitions. "Not all children will be interested in going in for competitions, but it can provide a challenge that promotes self-esteem, an understanding of your limits and a desire to surpass yourself. Competition can be a real source of motivation for certain children." It's up to you to listen to your child and be their number one supporter! How old was your child when they started doing sports? What discipline did they get hooked on? Share your experiences with us!