Why Soccer is awesome for Preschoolers!
In an age in which kids get hooked on video and computer games, and childhood obesity is on the rise, how can getting them running around with other toddlers kicking a ball be a bad thing? Add in that many public schools and daycare centres have had to cut physical education and sports activities because of tight budgets, now is a great time to enrol our toddlers in soccer programs.
Whether team or individual, soccer is a great way to encourage fitness in your preschooler. Not only that, but they help develop important skills – social and motor. On the field, your preschooler will start to learn what their body is capable of. They also learn persistence and determination.
"Sports today are competing with technology, so let's get them on the fields," says Len Saunders, mother, author, coach and phys ed teacher. "As long as the sport is not being rammed down the kids' throats, it really is not harmful. We've gotten feedback that the kids go on and have an edge when they start in league sports at age 6,"
Many Sport organisations are enrolling kids as young as 4 months old up to 5 years in programs aimed at increasing mobility, with the ultimate goal of teaching them specific sport skills and scrimmaging against one another. When designed correctly, these classes can be fun, challenging, and teach children coordination.
Allowing children to participate in outdoor extracurricular activities, such as soccer, helps them explore and develop skills which are considered beneficial throughout their lives. By participating in soccer, children are exposed to various mental, social, emotional, physical and educational benefits. Some of these benefits are:
- Separation. Learning to leave your parent or caregiver in the lobby or on a sideline when going into class is the beginning of learning how to separate before a child goes to school. The ability to adjust to new situations is an important part of a preschooler's education.
- Following directions and rules. Soccer teaches kids to follow multi-stepped directions. Recalling which part of your body is allowed to touch the ball in soccer and which direction you need to kick the ball is more than just learning the strategy of a sport.
- Patience. No one likes waiting, especially 3, 4 and 5-year-olds! Practicing standing in line for short periods of time and containing your excitement as you wait for your turn to have shot at goal are just a couple ways soccer teaches patience.
- Working cooperatively. From partner drills to playing a game together, soccer teaches kids to work together for a common purpose.
- Safety. Soccer is a popular sport at grassroots level due to its enjoyment but also its safety compared to other competing sports.
- Responsibility in cleaning up. Learning to put the balls, cones or bibs into a pile is an important skill and one that many parents and teachers will be grateful to have their preschoolers and future students master next time there are Legos all over the floor!
- Conflict resolution. It's not easy when you don't get to be first. Or you don't get the pink soccer ball. Or you are unable to stand next to your favourite friend in line. Soccer teaches these lessons and helps children learn appropriate ways to resolve their conflicts.
- The value of effort. Sports are not easy. However, if children try hard, they will see progress. Therefore, they will begin to understand the relationship between effort and success and are well on their way to fostering a growth mindset.
- Resilience. A 4-year-old falling down and getting back up while trying to master a soccer skill or who misses shots over and over, but tries again all while maintaining an "I can do it" attitude is learning resilience and the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
- Developing Self-Esteem. Kids who play sports have been proven to have higher self esteem and confidence than kids who don't. Kids become confident in their own bodies and mind.
- Social Skills. Kids become more social by interacting with kids and coaches outside of their usual social circle which gives them confidence in their own skills for the future to build relationships and maintain friendships.