The One Thing To Look For When Choosing Activities & Sports for Kids


As parents, most of us want our kids involved in sports and activities. We want them to do gymnastics, play an instrument, or join scouts. We hope they will be enriched or maybe learn some new skills. Being involved in sports or activities may even keep our kids out of trouble, especially as they get older. So we sign up for a soccer team or a summer camp.

team, activities, one thing to look for when choosing team for kidsAfter seven years of signing my children up for various activities and sports, I have learned an important lesson.

When I look back at all the swim lessons, soccer games, and scouting events we’ve experienced, they weren’t all the same. Our experiences were either positive, negative, or just so-so.

Once we had a cranky soccer coach that rarely showed up to practice. When he did come, he would tell the kids they needed to work on a specific skill because they “really stunk at it”! (Definitely a negative experience and not very encouraging.)

The next year my son joined a new soccer team and his coach was also his Boy Scout leader. It was such a positive and rewarding experience. We knew most of the boys on the team and loved cheering them on each week. All the parents would chat, and the kids would practice and play, and it felt so right.

We have also had our “so-so” experiences. Every summer we take swim lessons. It goes well, but I always ask myself if it is worth signing up for again. My daughter has feared swimming and putting her face in the water, and she wasn’t making much progress. Until one magical summer, she had a great instructor that made her feel safe. She finally felt comfortable and learned to put her face in the water. (That was a big win!) So, of course, I did sign her up again for more swim lessons.

As I look ahead to the new year and try to figure out where our family will spend our free time and energy, I realize what I really want for all of us.

Every truly positive extracurricular experience had one thing in common . . . a sense of community.

As parents, we looked forward to soccer games even more when we were cheering on our kids with other moms and dads we know and trust. Our kids were also more excited when they played with a coach they trusted or maybe had in the past. My daughter screamed with excitement when one of her good friends joined her soccer team.

The whole idea of being part of a team or group is important to me. I want my kids to feel like they belong to a group that makes them feel proud. Sometimes our kids are placed in a group of random strangers, all put together to form a team. If the group clicks and the kids are comfortable, that’s when I see they have really become a team. If my children don’t know anyone in the group, I’ll try to encourage them to make new friends and feel comfortable with their team.

From now on I will look for a sense of community in the sports and activities we choose. Feeling part of a team is not only a good experience for our kids but for us parents, as well. I think it’s important for everyone to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Originally published February 2018


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