Agility, balance, strength and fine motor skills should be developing more and more as your child grows up, as will their preferences for different skills and activities. Take a look at this list of basic skills from Active for Life, and then have fun trying out different hobbies together!
For more information on physical literacy, visit Active for Life
Striking is the act of hitting an object — such as a ball — with either your hand or a tool, such as a racquet, bat or stick. As a skill, it demands the ability to track an object in the air or on the ground. It’s an essential skill for sports such as baseball, hockey, volleyball, tennis, badminton and many more.
TIP: With minimal investment in basic equipment, you can introduce your child to simple striking activities at home (like a plastic ball and bat, plastic street hockey stick and so on). See which types of activities might appeal to him, and then consider registering him for introductory programs in sports such as tennis, hockey, baseball and volleyball.
Dribbling skills are key to sports such as basketball, soccer and hockey. In each instance, dribbling refers to the ability to manipulate and redirect the movement of the ball or puck with small, controlled touches of the hand, foot or stick. Dribbling is really about fine motor skills, and these skills only develop through practise and repetition.
TIP: Your child can practise dribbling skills at home with his own basketball, soccer ball, or hockey stick and ball. When selecting an introductory program in one of these sports, make sure that the program emphasizes the development of these skills. At this age, skills are far more important than winning.
For pre-adolescent children, gymnastics remains one of the best activities for overall development of agility, balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. It incorporates a wide variety of movement skills to make it perfect for “one-stop shopping” in physical literacy.
TIP: Children’s gymnastics programs don’t usually feature competition, and your child doesn’t need to aspire to compete at the Olympics. Most kids have fun with basic gymnastics, and if you want one program that develops a wide range of core skills, gymnastics is it.
Skiing costs more than most activities, but if you are able to manage it, this is the age to get your kid to the slopes. Children between six and eight learn quickly as their low centre of gravity makes it relatively easy for them to balance on skis. Skiing could also be your child’s gateway to getting involved in a variety of other winter “sliding” sports such as snowboard, cross-country and luge.
TIP: Ski resorts offer low-cost introductory one-day ski programs for kids that include the cost of their lessons, equipment and lift ticket.
If you started your child in introductory swim lessons in preschool, hopefully he has kept up with swimming either through school or with subsequent lessons at your local recreation centre. Again, it’s not necessary to be aiming for an Olympic gold medal. Earth’s surface is 75 percent water, so he’s sure to find a use for those swimming skills sometime.
TIP: Keep your child in swimming lessons until you’re confident he is safe in the water. If he decides to chase an Olympic dream, that’s nice too, but it’s not a decision you need to worry about.
Like swimming, skating continues to be a good core skill set for the average Canadian child. It doesn’t matter whether or not your child pursues figure skating, hockey, ringette or speed skating. His skating skills will allow him to forever enjoy an activity that promotes fitness, balance and coordination, whether on ice skates or rollerblades. Skating is also a great social activity for children and teens in rinks across the country.
TIP: Like swimming, look into beginner skating programs at your local recreation centre, and take the family to occasional public skates at the rink to practise your skills. And, of course, have fun!
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