We are all well versed in the benefits our children gain from regular sport and physical activity. But how do we encourage them to love sport from a young age, and then sustain that enthusiasm?
Kevin Molloy, Director of Sport at Alleyn’s Junior School in Dulwich provides some top tips to help you and your child get the ball rolling.
MAKE IT FUN
There is plenty of time for learning techniques and tactics. Let children experience the thrill of moving and playing. As the great West Indian cricketer Sir Vivian Richards said, “Once they have experienced the thrill of smashing the ball to all parts, the pain of getting out will be enough motivation for them to seek you out and learn how to be patient and defend.”
Don’t jeopardise the fun element but do encourage the basics. Agility, balance, co-ordination and speed are attributes that will stand children in good stead. These core physical qualities, allied with the natural motivation to be active, mean your child is now well on the road towards being physically active for life.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
It’s important to recognise the value of participating in a range of physical and sporting activities. The transferable skills children pick up from an enjoyable and varied schedule will ultimately produce more motivated, adaptable and skilled performers over time.
KEEP THINGS CHILD CENTRED
It may challenge you, but keep your child at the centre of this journey. When they start to show some promise, it’s helpful to be aware of the potential slippery slope that can take parents to a point where success means more to them than it does to the child. Your child is driving, on this journey you can be the sat nav if they get a little lost!
“IT’S ONLY A GAME” (FOR SOME)
Bear in mind your child’s unique personality traits and feelings towards what they are doing. For some it is just a game but for others winning drives them. Results will matter to them, but help them learn to win with humility, lose with dignity and, most importantly, to respect their opponents, their team mates, their equipment and the officials.
FAILURE IS OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
The sports world is fantastic for providing chances to experience success and failure and learn from both. Your child will suffer setbacks along the way. Encourage them to be resilient enough to bounce back with lessons learned. You will want to protect and defend them of course but remember this is their journey. Don’t prepare the road for your child, prepare your child for the road.
To search for clubs across London, visit www.getactivelondon.com
Local neighbourhood sites like Around Dulwich (www.arounddulwich.co.uk/childrens-activities) are worth a look as they list fun activities and clubs for children and families.
The ‘Get Going’ area at www.change4life.co.uk includes tips and information on the benefits of activity, as well as another useful search engine to help find activities in your area.