As the school year once again approaches, parents will be thinking about the kinds of extra-curricular sports and activities to enrol children in this year. It can be a tricky decision depending on the particular child, but we all know kids need to stay active. It’s important for their health and wellbeing now and as they get older, and will positively impact their adult lives.
Research also indicates that extra-curricular sports will benefit children in their academic pursuits, that encouraging their athleticism from an early age will help children maintain discipline, stay focused and engage more effectively in the classroom.
Beyond that, extra-curricular activities help teach children the importance of teamwork, community and social structures, and help them feel more connected to their school; improving attendance and increasing the likelihood of children staying in school to graduation.
Children’s brains are wired for play, so get them active and into sports.
Getting To and From School
One solution is to adopt a self-powered way to get to and from school: walking or bike-riding. Making this happen will depend on your schedules and distance from school, as well as the age of the kids, but consider the We Often Walk (or Wheel) option for a way to increase children’s physical activity. Even better if you can do it in a group with friends and neighbours. And don’t let the inevitable winter weather stop you.
Soccer, basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, t-ball, softball, rugby, field hockey, floor hockey and, of course, ice hockey. Any of these sports can grab and hold the attention of kids, and there is even financial support available (and here) to help help parents to get their children involved.
Tennis is fun and, in the city where free courts can frequently be found, inexpensive. With more Canadian champions winning tournaments every day – thank you, Milos Raonic – the inspiration is clear. Track and field can be a great way for kids to challenge their personal limits, and there are programs to encourage girls in particular to get out and run long distances. And in the gym there are plenty of options: weights, wrestling and martial arts are but a few.
The Kids’ Run Club is a great way to establish a lifelong interest in running, and lifelong cardiovascular health. The program – founded by Doctors Nova Scotia – helped thousands of kids get active last year alone.
Dance and gymnastics
Nova Scotian gymnast Ellie Black competed in Rio at the Olympics, and got there with the help of Gymnastics Nova Scotia. They have everything from the introductory Tumblebugs to more advanced programs, such as the rings, vault, and parallel bars. But if your child prefers a more creative expression, maybe dance is the way. There are a few options available.
If your child isn’t really interested in sports, there are still ways they can stay active in extra-curricular programs. Consider 4-H, the youth program that teaches kids active, practical and creative skills – including woodworking, crafts, photography and gardening, among many others.
Your turn: Share your ideas for great extra-curricular activities in the comment section below.