Organized Kids' Sports Start Too Young
Can't kids just be kids?
After this past week’s record-breaking temperatures, I became “heated” in more ways than one.
What value is there to having a group of 7- and 8-year-olds play baseball in 98-degree weather when warnings have been issued for poor air quality?
I was disturbed to think the coaches were so set on these kids playing, that their health and safety weren’t a consideration.
“If they drink lots of water, they’ll be fine,” someone said.
Well, my son (who has asthma) just might not be “fine” if he’s pushed to play catcher for two hours in 100 percent humidity at those record-breaking temperatures.
Fortunately after some debate with the other coach, our coach had enough sense to postpone the game -- just to “play it safe.” Bless him for standing up for the safety of his boys.
I’m sorry, but this is not the World Series. Life WILL go on if these little guys miss one game due to an extreme weather situation.
Is it worth it if one of them has a severe asthma attack or falls over from heat exhaustion? Not in my opinion. But maybe that’s the tender heart of a mom talking. Isn’t this all fun and games at this point? Perhaps not to some parents.
I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but it got me a little fired up this week. The situation led me to thinking about organized activities in general.
So many kids these days are scheduled into one thing or another, even as toddlers. I’ve known parents who sign up their 18-month-olds for gymnastics, soccer, swimming and other costly lessons.
Not only do I not have the money for this, I have a hard time understanding what it’s worth at such a young age.
I’m not sure what has driven our society to feel we have to get our kids involved in these structured activities when they're only 1-, 2- or 3-years-old. I’ve seen kids as young as several months old going for swimming lessons or 2- year-olds on the tennis courts.
Perhaps it’s the fact that so many people live in suburban developments offering little to no open space for kids to play freely. Maybe people are afraid we’re falling behind other countries. Or maybe it’s just a standard of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Whatever it is, my husband and I are happy to say we’ve stuck with our gut on this.
We waited until our oldest son asked us to get involved in something. When he turned 6, he expressed an interest in joining scouts. He loves the outdoors, learned about cub scouts, and knew he wanted to give it a try.
It was HIS choice.
We never did T-ball, but allowed him to play baseball when he wanted to. He might have been the only kid on his team who had never played T-ball, but guess what … he’s not so bad.
Piano lessons were just recently introduced after he turned 8 – an age, we were told, when children can quickly and effectively learn the techniques.
For as long as we could hold off, he was allowed to be a kid with no hardcore schedule – a rarity these days. We’re just now getting into this concept of having a “kid schedule.”
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to sound judgmental by any means. If you're the parent of a 2-year-old who attends "The Little Gym," I'm sure you and your child enjoy it very much.
I’m just wondering why some of us feel so much pressure to go with the flow and pump our kids full of scheduled activities when they’re so young.
When I was a young girl, I lived in a rural area outside of Emmaus.
For fun, I would play in the creek across the road, build forts in the woods, ride my bike to the corner store, and have friends over to play “orphans,” where we’d pretend we were living off the land and make ourselves onion grass soup. We played board games, tried to perform magic tricks and caught unusual creatures in the nearby pond.
At some point, a letter was sent from the local township offering a summer kickball program. I was about 8 years old, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. I still remember the red t-shirt I was given.
It was the beginning of my “kid schedule,” and I was ready. Piano, softball, and track and field soon followed.
Life as a kid was good. I was free to use my imagination, I had time to play with friends, and I was able to be creative in my own ways. I think I turned out OK.
I often wonder when things changed.
I don’t remember having friends who went to soccer lessons. They kicked the ball around with their siblings or friends. There were no Sunday games. Instead, we went to church and spent time with our families.
I knew no one who had tennis on Tuesday, soccer on Wednesday, and gymnastics on Thursday with swimming lessons somewhere in between.
So, certainly times have changed. To each his or her own, but are we getting to the point that parents are afraid to let kids be kids?