We are firm believers in kids trying all sorts of activities to stimulate their interests and find their passions. One of our main purposes in the business of Parks and Recreation is to provide a wide variety of introductory opportunities for people of all ages to experience, learn and grow! Summer is an opportune time for parents to dip their children’s toes into the water of multiple activities, and one area where diversification is becoming increasingly important is sports. We asked Brett Gardner, owner of our local Skyhawks Sports Franchise to share her thoughts on this topic.
Much has been written over the past several years about specializing in one sport vs. letting kids play as many sports as possible. There is all this literature that benchmarks what age kids should be when they specialize. I come down firmly in the camp of NEVER. Unless your child is an elite gymnast or dancer, there is no argument to be made for specializing in a sport. Ask professional athletes how many of them “specialized” in the sport they now play. I’d hazard a guess that the answer is none.
But, sports have gotten really out of hand thanks to the business model behind competitive sports. Coaches are hired to develop players for college sports programs. That’s what they are paid to do. I hear parents talking about this even with a team of eight-year-olds!
If you are reading this and you have teenagers, I hope you’re nodding your head in agreement. Parents of younger children, read on. Sports is not a career for your child. It’s an activity and it should be one of many.
But, more importantly, not all kids like sports. As the parent of two very athletic children and the owner of a company that runs sports camps, I should be shouting from rooftops about the benefits of sports. But, I have also seen what happens when kids are pushed too hard.
I am a big believer in the “try everything” model of parenting. You never know what’s going to stick. When my kids were little, we tried it all — from ball sports to gymnastics to theater to martial arts to dance. Some of it stuck and much of it didn’t. The questions we asked our kids were, “was it fun?” and “did you learn anything worthwhile?” Next, we asked them if they wanted to do that activity again.
With child number one, the answer was invariably, yes. With the other one, it was almost always, NO! Different kids, different interests. Even though child number one seemed to like everything and child number two seemed to hate most things, I still think the try everything model was good for both of them.
With limited time during the school year, we often used summer camps to let our kids try different activities. Many families didn’t understand why we would do this. If my daughter was “an athlete,” why weren’t we sending her only to sports camps? She plays ball sports nine months out of the year. Does she really need more sports at age eight? We thought it was far more important for her to experience different things. So we encouraged her to try science camps, cooking lessons, etc. She loved some of them and was less enthusiastic about others. But, she got to try something new, which was the most important thing.
As summer is looming, think about things your kids have never done before. It could be a new sport, like flag football. Or, it could be dance or robotics. Try everything. You just never know what will stick!
To sign your child up for one of Brett Gardner’s Skyhawks Sports Camps in Redwood City, click here. there are full day and half day camps available. Many are scheduled to coincide with Bridge Care and After Care. For registration info visit www.redwoodcitycamps.org
About Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner considers herself a bail-out from Silicon Valley after having been involved in the early stages of several companies. She is a coach at heart, having both played and coached soccer and basketball for several years. She currently owns Skyhawks Sports for the Peninsula and spends her Sundays with 70 of her favorite preschoolers teaching t-ball, soccer and basketball.