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Sport & Exercise As Part Of Pre-School Life

Mozart was playing the piano at five but infant prodigies are found in the sporting world too. Tiger Woods was teeing off aged three. Andre Agassi was a similar age when he received tennis lessons from Jimmy Connors.

Most parents will have neither the resources nor the inclination to place such a burden of expectation on their toddler but it’s never too early to encourage healthy activity in your child.

There are practical benefits too. Take swimming for instance. Obviously, being able to swim is a useful skill to acquire but it’s actually easier to learn the younger you are. In fact there is no ‘minimum age’ for swimming and many toddlers can swim before they can walk.

It’s also a good idea to start your child off in the water
before they experience any associated notion of fear. It won't do your own health any harm either.

It's only a game!
Let’s be quite clear about one thing though - we’re not talking competitive sport here. There’s plenty of time for that later on and you don’t want your child to be branded a ‘failure’ at anything before their first day at school.

Let's play ball
Soft ball games are good for your child as well. Apart from the sheer fun they’ll experience from throwing or kicking a ball around this is a marvellous way of developing hand/eye co-ordination.

By ‘soft’ we mean tennis or beach balls. Your kid may grow up to be a demon fast bowler but it’s not a great idea to let him get his hands on a cricket ball just yet!

Ball games are often ‘team’ sports. And while we don’t advocate organising two-year olds into eleven-a-side matches, they’re a great way to socialise by getting to know other toddlers.

And at this age games will be mixed sex too, thus encouraging your child to be at ease with children of the opposite gender. This can be particularly important if there are no other children at home or only siblings of the same sex.

An early start for an active life
Before your child goes off to nursery, ask what types of play they encourage. And always remember, at this age it’s PLAY not sport or PE. There’ll be time enough for that and you don’t want your child to think that physical exercise is a chore. It must always be FUN. That way your child will come to you demanding to play rather than the other way round.

It’s also important not to try and relive your own sporting fantasies through your children.

Of course if you do see your offspring landing a five-iron two feet from the flag or thumping an ace over the net then think about getting some expert coaching advice. But only if you also see a tiny face smiling up at you just after they’ve done it.



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