Are My Kids Old Enough for Certain Activities?
As a parent today it is often felt that an early start for children in sports and music is necessary so that the child can be as competitive as possible. A parent wants his or her tot to have every advantage in the ever increasingly competitive landscape of athletics and music. What activities are there for kids ages 2-10? How young is too young for certain sports and instruments? Below is a large, but non-exhaustive, list of activities for kids. Below each activity is a brief discussion of what age a child should be to start the sport or musical instrument.
Unstructured Free Play
Credit: MorgueFileAs the name implies, anything goes here. It is all about maintaining an active disposition for a given amount of time (15-30 minutes). Playing in the backyard, kicking some balls around or playing catch me if you can; these are all types of unstructured free play. This question of age readiness is the easiest to answer; once a child starts to walk the toddler is old enough to play around in what can be deemed unstructured imaginative free play.
Structured Free Play
Little Gym, Gymboree, etc...
These are all structured classes, but still have a lot of free movement within the structure. They start as parent-child classes providing for bonding with the parent and learning experiences that allows the parent to help the infant to learn how to socialize with other toddlers. These types of classes begin as early as 4 months.
A child can begin to learn how to swim through parent participated swim lessons as early as 12 months. It is never to early to start to get the toddler used to water, however, by incorporating swimming ideas in the bathtub; blowing bubbles, kicking while supported on hands, running water over head and face, these bath activities will help the infant start the tadpole stage. As far as how old a child needs to be to attend a swim class without a parent, the child must be potty trained and age 2.5-3 is a good rule of thumb so the comprehension is there to listen to and obey the instructor.
Shake, rattle and roll
Credit: MorgueFileThe required age for a child to attend dance class is very similar to that of swimming. The child needs to be toilet trained so that accidents will not occur. The ability to follow an instructors orders is also a must, though with dance it is a little less rigid as dance at young ages is more of a free-flowing form of getting the body to learn different movements. In this respect, 2-3 is an age that a child can enter into a dance class with or without a parent. 5 years old is the age that a child is best suited to become a student of dance in the respect of making a more competitive go at it.
Fore! Might be a little to young...
How old do you need to be to start playing golf? At 3 a set of kids clubs is great for the child to whack balls around the back yard. Any type of competitive play or lessons should wait until 5-7. Golf is a game that requires a lot of focus and moving parts that require the necessary control. It is best to wait for a bit of concentration to develop before expecting greatness from the toddler.
Never to early to take to a ballgame!
At the age of 3-4 there are T-Ball leagues that a child can enter. These are more for learning social skills, learning the rules of the game and having fun! How old do you have to be to play baseball in a competitive fashion? That is better left until 6-7. At this age the players will have enough strength to get the ball from base to base, as well as have a basic understanding of the game.
Ice Skating or Roller Skating
Credit: MorgueFileAt the age of 4 -5 a child can begin to learn to skate. A toddlers co-ordination will have developed to a necessary level by this time to help him or her maintain balance on the ice, as well as the know how to help brace themselves from the inevitable falls.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Credit: MorgueFileA child of 4-5 should be old enough to hit the slopes and learn to ski (bunny hill that is). The main reason for the wait is that a hild won't have the necessary balance until around this time and the equipment creates an instability that younger children may find difficult to control.
aka "Bunch Ball"
Credit: MorgueFileThis is everyone’s favorite sport to enroll their children into. It has become a right of passage and soccer is used to get children used to interacting with others and meet friends before schooling has begun. A child can start soccer at the ripe age of 5 (sometimes a tad earlier). This early “bunch ball” soccer is more like a hive of bees swarming the soccer ball.
Credit: MorgueFileThe age to start basketball is similar to soccer in the respect that younger kids will get together and play, though many of the rules will need to be thrown out the window. At what age are basketball leagues found; by age 5 (maybe even a little younger) there is some sort of organized sport. At this age a child will begin to under stand and follow directions.
Credit: MorgueFileAfter the little tike learns to skate, the next best thing would be to put a stick in his or her hand to learn to shoot a puck. 5-6 is a good age to start to play hockey as the necessary skill of skating will have been learned by this age and the hand to eye co-ordination should be developed to a level sufficient for the sport.
Along with dance, gymnastics helps the toddler build balance and co-ordination. While using gymnastics gyms for unstructured free play at any age is a wonderful idea, a foray into a more structured competitive gymnastics should be held off until 5-6 years old. It is a very demanding sport on the muscles and the mind. The child needs to be able to handle the stress and intense nature of the sport or they will surely give it up.
Credit: MorgueFileGetting children interested in music and musical instruments at an early age is essential. Building their awareness and love of music will only help in the transition to learning to play an instrument. The age that you should enroll in a piano music class for toddlers is 5-6. At this age the child will be able to comprehend better the ideas behind notes and scales. Their body will also be bigger and hands better suited to the keys on the piano.
Credit: MorgueFileFor almost the identical reasons as the piano, a child should wait until the ages of 5 or 6 to take up guitar and start lessons. It can be very frustrating and if the child is too young to “want” to play the guitar he or she will not have the patience to put in the required effort.
Credit: MorgueFileAt the age of 6 or 7 any child can take up tennis as a sport. At age 6-7 strength and co-ordination are sufficient to make solid contact and return balls across the court. A child's mental development is at a level where the rules of the game can be learned and understood.
Not in the sense of body building, but at the age of 7 or 8 children can start to weight train. Weight training is beneficial for many of the sports that they will be encountering at this age. Weight training at this age will help them to learn the proper technique and help to prevent injuries.
Can your child stand still?
8 is the recommended age to start martial arts training. The reason for this is that martial arts are all about discipline and obedience. Not many children are capable of this much before the age of 8.
Credit: MorgueFileLast but not least! Parents are always asking how old their child should be to play football. How young is too young? This is by far the most controversial sport when it comes to the age to begin. The most conservative parent may want to wait until 12 years of age to let the body develop. However, the age of 8 is old enough to enroll children in pee-wee football. This will give the child a chance to learn the rules, get a sense of how to use leverage and properly play the game.
How Young is to Young to Play Sports and Music?
These are some basic guidelines regarding activities for kids. The article above presented in a loose guideline the ages that a child should be to start sports and music. All kids are different and mature in differing manners and at different times. The bottom line is if your child shows interest in a sport, music or hobby it is best to try to do something sooner than later. Most importantly, do not push children into any activities to early. The over-riding aspect of sports for children is that the sports and musical instruments are supposed to be fun!