There's nothing cuter than a bunch of preschoolers playing T-ball or soccer, but is it the best way for them to be active? Probably not.
Team sports offer a chance for preschoolers to meet each other and get some exercise, but can be too complicated. Even simple rules may be hard for a 4- or 5-year-old to understand. If you've ever watched your child run the wrong way during a game, you already know this.
The average preschooler has not mastered sports basics such as throwing, catching, and taking turns. This can be frustrating and may discourage future participation in sports. If you do decide to enroll your child in soccer or another team sport, choose a peewee league that emphasizes the fundamentals.
The coach's attitude and the way other parents approach the game are also important. Above all, a team activity should be fun, not upsetting. If your child isn't having fun, ask why and try to address the issue or find another activity.
If you haven't signed your child up for a team sport yet, don't worry. Myths persist about how kids need a "head start" if they want to be competitive when they're older. But kids who learn the fundamentals and like being active can readily catch on to sports when they're a little older.
If sports aren't a must, what should be on a preschooler's schedule? Engage your child in activities that are fun and challenging, but not beyond his or her abilities. Preschoolers are learning to hop, skip, and jump forward, and like to show how they can balance on one foot for a few seconds, catch a ball, or do a somersault.
They also may enjoy swimming, hiking, dancing, and riding a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels. All of these activities help develop skills and coordination. It's important for preschoolers to engage in a variety of activities to encourage a wide range of movement and skills.
The National Association of Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that every day preschoolers should:
Adult-led activity means that you can get involved. Kids love seeing their parents play. Doing so also shows that being active is part of the normal routine for your family. Running, playing, and practicing basic skills, such as throwing, catching and kicking balls in the backyard or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family.
Other activities to try with your preschooler (or for preschoolers to do together):
Kids who enjoy physical activity tend to stay active throughout their lives. And staying fit can improve self-esteem, help maintain a healthy weight, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2011
|Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) YMCAs also offer camps, computer classes, and community service opportunities in addition to fitness classes.|
|National Youth Sports Safety Foundation This organization offers a newsletter with helpful safety tips and facts about sports injury prevention.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|Fitness and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Staying fit can help improve kids' self-esteem and decrease the risk of serious illnesses later in life.|
|Home and Away: How to Keep Toddlers Active Toddlers naturally enjoy doing what is healthiest for them - being as active as possible. Here are tips to help keep them moving.|
|Is Your Preschooler Too Active? Preschoolers need lots of physical activity, so it's best to work with their high energy levels by keeping them safe while giving them opportunities to play.|
|Safe Exploring for Preschoolers Kids ages 3-5 have tons of energy and are eager to walk, run, dance, and play. It's a great age for exploration too.|
|Fitness for Kids Who Don't Like Sports Some kids aren't natural athletes and they may say they just don't like sports. What then?|
|Raising a Fit Preschooler Preschoolers have a lot of energy, and the physical skills and coordination to ride a tricycle or chase a butterfly.|
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