Become a partner in selecting physical activities for your young child. First, share with your children your favorite activities. Children in elementary school enjoy companionship. If you like biking, jogging, or hiking, be sure to include them sometimes to enhance that family bond. If you take an exercise or yoga class, see if the instructor will allow a young visitor to participate.
Second, find out more about your child’s hopes and dreams. If your child dreams of becoming the next great football, soccer or baseball star, now is the time to find a neighborhood-sponsored team or league. Children at this age can develop talent for sports they can enjoy in the future. If your child is not interested in team sports, make sure she tries individual sports like tennis, swimming, running or gymnastics. Your child can participate in these sports as part of a team, too, if she likes the camaraderie of teammates.
Some children do not want to be involved in a sport, but they still need activity for health and fitness. Also, exercise spurs the cells that help the brain grow, and helps kids improve learning, memory, concentration, and emotional resiliency. So help even the uninterested or uncoordinated find something; look for community education or local fitness center-sponsored kick-boxing, martial arts, or dance classes.
Finally, give your child plenty of opportunity for trial and error. What he picks first may not turn out to be his favorite activity. Encourage him to complete the season, but next year, let him try something else he’s shown an interest in. Discuss the pros and cons of the activity so he learns to evaluate the effectiveness and the enjoyment level of different sports. Keeping that conversation going is a great way to stay involved in your child’s activities.