By Hannah King
I had a conversation with friends recently about finding a balance between introducing our children to a variety of activities and over programming them.
We talked about when was a good point to start narrowing our children’s focus on one or two key activities. The question is how much is too much, and how do you encourage children to find a sport or interest that they are passionate about?
Not surprisingly, this topic is often discussed here at parks, recreation and culture.
The idea of exposing children to a variety of movement skills and fundamental sport skills as a part of their early development is referred to as physical literacy. The benefit of physical literacy is that children ultimately enjoy a more active lifestyle.
Your local recreation department is one of the key agents available to you to help foster your child’s physical literacy.
The Canadian Sport for Life group has identified four skills that are core to physical literacy: agility, balance, coordination and speed. These skills should be developed in four environments: on the ground; in the water; on snow and ice; and in the air.
If during early development years children are exposed to different activities in a positive setting, they become open to exploring other new things as they age.
A recreation department fosters physical literacy by providing a variety of programs lead by qualified instructors. The focus of recreational programming should be on creating active people not sport specific athletes.
Nanaimo parks recreation and culture offers a number of programs that focus on the fundamentals of sport development for children. Through actively engaging in a variety of sports or activities, children develop skills such as flexibility, strength, stamina, focus and discipline which are the foundations of maintaining an active lifestyle.
Experts suggest there are seven stages of development for a long term athlete. From ages 0-6 the focus should be on introducing your children to activities that let them explore movement and balance.
There are a number of great resources available to parents around the topic of physical literacy, but to get you started check out www.activeforlife.ca.
As a parent or caregiver, look for programs that offer your child the chance to develop a number of skills and allow your child to try a variety of introductory courses.
As always, it’s important to remember that children learn the most by what they see around them. So spend some time outside playing catch or tag or taking a walk through a park.
Helping your child on the path toward physical literacy is as simple as child’s play.
Hannah King is a marketing and communication specialist with Nanaimo parks, recreation and culture.