Getting your kid involved in local youth sports programs offers many tangible benefits and rewards--not just for your kid, but for you, too. Youth sports programs run the gamut from soccer to gymnastics, and they are a worthwhile investment of time and money for the whole family.
Let's begin by looking at the benefits these programs offer to your child:
Increased physical fitness is the most obvious benefit to participating in a sports program:
- Kids who regularly participate in sports show increased coordination and better overall health than their peers who do not get involved.
- Increased physical activity allows for better weight management as well.
Participating in sports will help your child build her social skills:
- By working with others on her team, your child can understand the concept of teamwork and hones her leadership skills.
- Your child will learn about sportsmanship and treating others with respect.
- Finally, your child will also learn about the concept of success vs. failure, and about the dedication it takes to achieve success.
Participating in sports is just plain fun for kids:
- It allows them to enjoy time spent with their friends.
- It also encourages them to make new friends.
Sports programs offer these obvious benefits to your kids, but they also offer benefits to WAHMs. Some of these benefits include:
- The WAHM can use the time her child is involved in sports as valuable work time. Of course, if your kid has a big game or meet coming up, work can wait while you cheer!
- Because scheduling rides and pickups can get tricky, you and your husband (hopefully) learn the fine art of time management.
- While working out schedules, rides and pickups, you and your husband also increase and improve your communication skills.
While your kids are playing sports, you can take the time in the bleachers to get to know other parents:
- Offer to share rides and pickups, or arrange playdates.
- Use the time to network with other WAHMs. Learn what they do and if possible, support them in their endeavors. For example, if you run a photography business and you find a WAHM who offers part-time bookkeeping, you may decide to enlist her services.
- Keep in touch with what's going on in your school and your community. Other parents are a rich resource for keeping abreast of the latest news--something you might miss out on if you spend all your time in your office.
Strengthens Your Parent-Child Bond
The best benefit youth sports programs can offer you is a chance to bond with your kid:
- Watching your kid play sports can help you modify your expectations. No one wants to be that parent yelling at the umpire--watching your kid learn to win and to lose is a valuable lesson in control for you, too.
- It makes your kid feel special. After all, who doesn't want to have someone cheering them on?
- You may decide to get more active. If your kid has taken up a sport that looks like fun, have her teach you some moves over the weekend, or join an adult league!
Sports programs offer benefits that go way beyond physical fitness. They can be a fun learning experience for the whole family, so find a sport your kid adores and go for it!
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.