There are many reasons for Nassau County and Suffolk County parents to get their children involved in sports. Sports keep kids active, fit and healthy. They teach kids social skills, responsibility and how to be part of a team. Sports also offer an outlet outside of the classroom setting.
To help find local sports programs for kids on Long Island to keep them active and happy, Your Local Kids offers parents an Education and Enrichment Guide that lists a wide variety of sports – from baseball, basketball, football, soccer and ice hockey to fencing, gymnastics, golf, tennis, figure skating and cheerleading – in both Nassau and Suffolk.
Sports can help children do better in school, as well. In fact, there are many studies – especially in the past decade or so – that have linked physical activity in children with performing better academically. For example:
- In 2010, Science Daily cited, in a report, a medical study that was presented at a conference for the American Heart Association that showed that “for students who remain fit throughout their schooling years there’s a better chance of increased academic achievement.”
- A 2005 report by the California Department of Education cited evidence that “healthy, fit children are more prone to attend school and perform better than their sedentary peers.”
- The School of Journal Health studied a group of students during the 2004-05 school year and found that for standardized math and English tests, “children achieve more when they are able to pass a number of fitness tests.”
Another more recent study by the American College of Sports Medicine found it takes more than just participating in physical education classes several times a week for students to achieve higher grades. And the grades of students who played sports, such as soccer, baseball, football, basketball and softball, outside of school, tended to be higher than those students who didn’t.
So how do parents get their children physically active and involved in sports?
It starts with encouraging kids to become active at a young age. Kids are naturally full of energy, so it’s a matter of directing that energy into physical activity, and when they enjoy it, they want to do more of it.
According to an article by KidsHealth, “Toddlers and preschoolers should play actively several times a day. Children six to 17 years should do 60 minutes or more physical activity daily. This can include free play at home, active time at school and participation in classes or organized sports.”
So be sure to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Try different activities and take notice of which ones they seem to enjoy. Parents can then focus their kids’ attention and interest on a sport, and get their kids involved in league play where practicing and becoming accomplished at a sport will build their confidence.
Being aware of the type of athlete a child is will further help parents focus on the sports and physical activities that fit their children’s ability and interest level. While some kids want to achieve excellence in a sport, others might be perfectly happy as casual participants.
And even if your child is a non-athlete, there are still ways to encourage physical activity through family time and other types of exercise that involve the whole family, such as biking or hiking through the park, swimming at the pool or beach or sledding on a winter’s day.
The trick for parents, really, is to help their children stay active, and that, in turn, will help them grow up to be healthy, active adults.