When my oldest was in pre-k, we signed him up for soccer through the local YMCA. The season was a bit of a mess, but he had fun and learned a (very) little. A year and a half later, in the midst of COVID and virtual first grade, we decided to try soccer again. I’m so glad we gave it another go. Growing up in a sports-loving family, I always wanted sports to be a part of my children’s lives.
In addition to the obvious benefits of exercise and teamwork, my husband and I discovered five additional benefits of participating in team sports in early elementary school and thought we’d share with you!
When my kids are on the soccer or baseball field, mom and dad are on the sidelines. As a result, they need to learn to help themselves.
They are responsible for bringing their own equipment to and from games and practices. They need to have their uniforms on correctly and their shoes tied. If they haven’t learned these skills yet (like shoe tying), then they learn to advocate for themselves and ask for help from a coach or other adult.
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When we started soccer the second time, we were placed on a team of kids we didn’t know (most of whom were older than my son). Through several seasons and multiple sports, we’ve built an awesome community of neighbors and schoolmates. We see each other at school, at the park, and out in the neighborhood. When my second son started kindergarten last year, he not only knew his big brother, but his brother’s teammates and their siblings as well.
Suddenly, the big, intimidating elementary school was filled with familiar faces, and those vast hallways looked a lot more friendly.
Do my kids always want to go to practice and games? Of course not! We use these moments of resistance as an opportunity to remind them of the commitment they made. A coach, a team, and an opponent are all counting on them to show up.
It is important to us that our kids honor the commitments they make to their teams and put forth their best effort throughout the season.
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No one likes to lose. Sometimes we struggle with this even as adults. Participating in team sports in elementary school gives our kids the chance to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
Over the course of the season, we can point to instances of poor sportsmanship (in both adults and kids) and use them as an example of what not to do.
Participating in team sports gives our kids a lot of opportunities to interact with adults. They have new coaches, referees and umpires, teammates’ parents, and other spectators at their games each week.
While we might not always agree with the decisions of a referee, official or umpire, we’re teaching our kids to respect the sport and the adults who are out there helping them.
Do your kids participate in team sports? What has been the most surprising benefit your family has experienced from team sports?