Physical activity is vital to the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical, social and emotional health.
In today’s world of hectic schedules that parents have packed their kids with, little do they realize that their kids barely get time to exercise. Many parents (we’re not generalising) find the gadgets and television as an easier option to have the children occupied and entertained; not realizing the damage done in the long run.
Children in schools today are increasingly overburdened with academics. Most parents make all efforts to get them to excel in academics. However, going with the popular phrase, ‘all work and no play’ is not necessarily the best strategy to improve your child’s performance at school or even in life, at large.
For children to grow and develop into healthy individuals there needs to be a reasonable balance between work and play. Engaging in Sports/Physical Activity plays an important role in the overall development of children, thereby, improving their all round health, and building their stamina and endurance to take up many more challenges to perform and excel. As parents, we must remember that the best gift we can give the future generation is by giving them a healthy childhood.
Physical Activity can be as simple as moving around, climbing a tree, dancing, family activities, or free play. Everybody can be physically active regardless of age, size, skill, or ability level.
The Physical Activity Pyramid for Young Children provides examples of ways children can be physically active. The following list briefly describes each level of the pyramid:
Why Outdoor Sports for Kids?
Participation in sports helps children to:
- Maintain good health: Unlike academics, sport is both physical and cerebral. Involvement in sports helps children develop physically. The gross motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination need to develop to the optimum for basic daily life activities.
- Cultivate team spirit: Most outdoor games involve teamwork. Children learn to coordinate with peers to fulfil a common task or accomplish a common goal. This involves superior communication skills, the capacity to assess situations, and the ability to take immediate and critical decisions. Children will require these skills when they finish school and step out into the competitive and professional world.
- Become confident: Taking part in sports can boost children’s morale. Children who choose sports are known to display confidence in other areas of their life like academics, making friends, and building meaningful relationships with adults.
- Cope with failure: Sports is as much about winning as about losing. It helps children not just to accept failures, but also to learn from them. Participation in sports teaches children to cultivate perseverance and to single-mindedly pursue their goals.
- Surpass limitations: Sports is not just about beating an opponent; it is about surpassing individual capacities. Playing a competitive sport helps children to know their limitations and work towards overcoming them. It helps them to develop the spirit of continuous self-improvement.
Ways to encourage participation
In order to introduce children to sports, one first needs to find out which sports would be appropriate for them. Most children usually have natural preferences. They may be drawn towards team sports such as football or hockey, or prefer individual sports such as athletics, swimming, or cycling. Exposing them to different sports is a good way to determine their inclinations.
Age is also an important factor. Each age bracket would have its own preference of sporting activities.
Ages 2 – 4
Children in this age group are still mastering complex movements such as running and jumping. Activities that can engage them could be – climbing, riding a tricycle, bicycle.
Children at this age are confident about their movements and are keen to explore the range of movements they can perform. Dancing, skipping, tossing, and catching a ball, working on their eye- hand co-ordination and improving their foot work are the areas to be worked on for children in this group.
This is the apt age for children to start playing games such as badminton, tennis, cricket, football, volleyball, etc. We’ve had Saina, Sindhu who started badminton at the age of 8 yrs.