My siblings and I spent every summer of our childhood on my grandfather’s small farm: one pig, one milk cow, a dozen chickens, and 10 acres of crops. Ninety per cent of our days were spent outside. We walked, ran, and climbed endlessly with only breaks for food and wash ups.
When our playmate Jerry got a new pony we all ran several miles to see the animal at the Baxter Farm and we ran back to gramp’s afterward. Our enthusiasm lifted our efforts. If we tired then we slowed, or sat for spell to throw stones, or pick flowers, etc.
All of us played organized sports in school and my older brother continued playing in college. Our young lungs, hearts, and legs developed with the plentiful exercise in the country. The physical effort in a regular sports game was much less then that consumed by our play time in the wild.
The lessons learned during my formative years were applied to my two sons during their childhood. There was no longer a farm upon which to turn them loose. There is however fine alternatives in which my sons participated.
First, a young child should be capable of more strenuous play about the age of seven. Preferably, this physical development is undertaken by a parent or at least under the watch of a parent for all the obvious reasons.
Once they reached second grade, I introduced my children to swimming, baseball, soccer, basketball, and football. This began during family play time. After several months with dad in “training” the child begins to show a preference in achievement and favored interests among the sport options. The children began to request more of one sport then we began to turn them loose for longer periods of physical activity under supervision.
We asked them to choose two (2) sports to play in an organized league. Here the discipline of the game and learning to deal properly with adult authority added to their over all growth. Never did we force their participation in any activity. We only supported their efforts with positive comments on their efforts as well as for their team mates, coaches, and officials. The whole idea is about good health and good fun in sportsmanship!
The key to acquiring athletic skill starts with running and overall body fitness. The childhood eagerness for fun drives this achievement. The coordination and balance comes from energetic play with other children.
The main difference among athletes is more heart and mind issues. This is character building. Good parenting, and good coaching are essential here. Here the children must be lead by example.
So about second grade or so get them active outside the house. Expose then to several sports over a summer. Allow the child to be free in such activities with peers while under responsible watch. Let the child’s interest and ability direct them to organized team play. Then support, encourage, and reward positive behavior. This is proper athletics.
You’ll be proud and the child will become most confident in general society.
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