What does he like? Is your child asking to play a particular sport? Is he the type of kid that likes to try new things and experiment? Or is happier when he sticks with something familiar, so he can practice his skills and learn new ones?
What is age-appropriate? Some sports and activities are too challenging for little ones to handle. When considering a particular sport or program, remember:
- Preschoolers have shorter attention spans and aren't ready for games or team sports with rules. Try individual activities like tumbling or swimming, and make sure each child gets lots of opportunity to play and move during classes. That means a low child:teacher (or coach) ratio so that kids don't sit on the sidelines waiting their turn for too long.
- Kids between 5 and 7 years old can begin to learn games with rules, but look for a program that strongly emphasizes sportsmanship and fun over winning. At this age, kids need to work on agility, strength, and hand-eye coordination. Non-contact sports such as skating, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, and T-ball are all good possibilities.
- Eight- to 10-year-olds are ready to play competitive sports. They are old enough to develop strong skills, understand rules, and be part of a team.
- Teens and tweens, with proper precautions, can play contact sports.
Is it convenient? Can you manage the practice/game schedule? Can you carpool? Will your child be able to keep up with his other commitments, such as homework, family meals, religious education, etc.?
Can you afford it? Remember that registration fees may be just the beginning. You may also need to purchase equipment, cover travel costs, or participate in fund-raising drives.
Are the staff, coaches, and volunteers properly trained? Do they know how to work with children? Have they had criminal background checks? Are they certified in first aid and other safety procedures?