In this digital era, we don’t get to see as many kids playing in the park or climbing trees anymore, compared to our childhood days. Taking time away from your child’s academic time for sports is a challenge. Taking their attention away from their iPad and TV to sweating and getting tired is a hard sell. And it’s an uphill battle for almost every parents to take time out from their busy schedule to bring their children for sports and accompanying them.
Benefits of Sports for Children
Whether you like it or not, parents need to know that physical activity and sports are essential and critical for children’s development, especially their overall physical and mental well-being. Their benefits include:
- Improves cardiovascular health.
- Helps the development of motor skills such as movement and coordination of arms and legs which support children to perform basic tasks like writing, walking, running, showering, etc.
- Improves flexibility, coordination and physical strength.
- Improves posture and reduce risks of slouching and spine problems.
- Improves concentration and cognition. Studies have shown that physical activities improve children’s learning skills and academic achievement. This is because exercising improves blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, hence stimulating the brain to work at maximum capacity.
- Boosts children’s confidence, self-esteem and positivism.
- Encourages teamwork. Children will also learn to develop social skills and value friendship through team sports.
- A fantastic way to relieve stress and anxiety as it increases levels of endorphins. It also promotes relaxation and improves sleep, hence improving your child’s overall health and well-being.
- Improves sensory processing – Vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch.
- Maintaining a healthy weight and reduce the likelihood of your child being overweight or obese.
What Type of Sports Suits your Child Best?
Month 6 to Age 2
As long as your baby is more than 4.5 kg, one of the best sports parents can send their babies to is swimming. Now, as the awareness of the benefits of swimming such as improved coordination and the immune system grows, there are more and more baby swimming schools in Malaysia, making this sport more affordable and accessible. Many parents have given positive feedback that swimming helps their babies sleep longer, stay relaxed, reduce crying and emotional stress.
Besides swimming schools, there are also other enrichment centres such as EduTalent, Gymboree, Tweedlewink and Heguru that provide classes for babies such as dancing, ballet, yoga, and baby gym through music and games. These activities help children to develop their senses, motor skills and ability to listen to simple instructions. Some of the classes offered also tackle linguistic development, exposing children to simple concepts and words. Read here for a list of recommended swimming schools and enrichment centres for your children.
Age 3 to Age 5
At this age, unstructured free play is recommended as children do not have the motor skills for organized sports. Their vision and ability to balance and focus are still very limited. Hence, play-based sports are more recommended. These activities should also focus on basic skills and allow them to explore, experiment and imitate others instead. As kids at this age have a very short attention span, instructions should be limited and parents are still encouraged to participate together with your child. The activities that are suitable for them include:
- Running & Jumping
- Ball Games
- Messy playing
Age 6 to Age 9
By the time your child reaches 6 years old, they should have the basic motor skills for simple organised sports. They may not be ready for sports that require more complex hand-eye coordination, quick decision-making, strategies and teamwork, but letting them participate in some simple sports at basic level will definitely build their skills. Sports must be played at a basic level and rules have to be flexible for children at this age. Find out your kids’ interest from the below-recommended list:
- Martial Arts
Age 10 to Age 12
Most children are ready for more complex sports when they reach Age 10 to 12. Their motor skills, maturity level and cognitive ability allow them to be able to play sports that require strategies, coordination, and teamwork. As children at this age group may be starting puberty and physical changes may be different between children, parents have to choose sports that suit your children’s physique change best. Some boys may be taller and stronger earlier than others while some only mature later on, giving them a slight disadvantage in playing sports. Also, do note that growth spurts can temporarily affect balance and coordination, so avoid getting frustrated if your child isn’t performing well. Here are the recommended sports options for your child to choose from:
- Martial Arts
Parents, to ensure that your child grows up to be a happy, healthy and active adults, let your children have at least 30 minutes or more of daily exercises. However, do take note that unless they are clueless, it is very important to let your child choose the sports that appeal to them and at the same time, age-appropriate. Do not force them to participate in a particular sport that they are not interested in or set high expectations for them to adhere, as this will only discourage and repel them.
Read our article “Top 7 Enrichment & Sports Centres for Your Child in Kuala Lumpur” for a list of recommended swimming schools, enrichment and sports centres for your children.
Parenting in the Digital Age
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