Experts usually recommend you not start a child in sports too soon. The reason is that enrolling children in sports that are not suitable with their developmental ability can lead to early dropout and frustration. Therefore, you should choose age-appropriate activities to make sport safe and enjoyable by following the age and activity guidelines below.
Ages two to five
Children aged two to five usually have legs that become straighter with their stride length increasing. They also develop a more mature running pattern while their balance and attention spans remain limited.
It is best to let children practice movements through free play, such as running, tumbling, kicking, throwing, catching a light ball or pedaling with training wheels.
Ages six to nine
Children aged six to nine have developed better balance and posture and is starting to learn transitional skills, such as the ability to do two or more basic movements together like running and throwing. They can understand a little about teamwork and follow directions better. However, their attention spans are still quite short.
If your children are ready, you can consider entry-level softball, football, gymnastics, swimming, running, tennis, or martial arts. Any activity should have short instruction times, flexible rules, and minimal focus on competition. You should also buy proper protective equipment if required.
Ages 10 to 12
Commonly, children aged 10 to 12 have mastered the fine motor skills that are needed for some sports. They are also improving their transitional skills and have longer attention spans. Therefore, they are usually ready to understand more about the strategy and tactics of a sport.
Give your children the chance to explore different sports, including contact sports such as football or basketball. This is also the age at which children can get acquainted with competitive sports with the skill of keeping score and tracking wins and losses.
Keep in mind that each child matures at a different pace. Although they are physically and mentally ready, some children still need help to master the basics of a sport in a safe environment.