NEA Parents' Resources

Applying Lessons to Your Child’s Favorite Sport

Hitting home runs, scoring baskets, shooting goals. Showing team spirit, cheering in support, demonstrating good sportsmanship.

These are the joys of sports. In addition to increasing happiness, sports are tied to several benefits. Sports participation is often tied with happier families; increased communication and trust between parents and children; and social, educational and health benefits.

But how do you translate what your child learns in the classroom to what they enjoy on the field?

Read on to identify ways to help your child have fun participating in their sport of choice and learn academic (and life) lessons along the way.

Score big with math. Every sport keeps score, be it the number of points, runs, goals or baskets achieved by an individual or team. Help your child put their math to work, or play, with fun math games tied to popular sports milestones. Check out these games that you can do with your child at home or suggest to their educator.

Explore the science of sports. Your child may be able to name baseball players or their favorite soccer star, but can they tell you what way the ball curves or the geometry of a goal kick? Science and sports may be a surprising pair, but one that can help your child better understand science-focused subjects like physics, biology and chemistry. Discover the science behind sports with these ideas and projects.

Teach the importance of leadership on and off the field. Being a leader in the classroom—following directions, being respectful of educators, and serving as a peer tutor and mentor—is a role that your child can bring to their team sport. Sports can provide leadership opportunities, even despite the competitive nature..

Use teamwork as a life lesson. Many extracurricular activities have the benefit of bringing kids together to achieve a common goal, like working together to win a basketball game. Talk to your child about the bigger picture of a team. Ask them how they feel about teamwork when they win and lose. They will have to work together with others throughout their academic and professional careers, and sports can help them realize that sharing in success and failure is one of life’s greatest lessons.

Underscore that commitment is crucial. It can be hard for your child to understand the meaning of commitment when they sign up for their first Little League or school team. Make it clear that participation is for the season, and while they won’t like everything they try, it’s important that they stick with it. A new sports season will come and that’s when they can try something new. Your child will learn responsibility and the meaning of perseverance.

Your child can love sports, develop academic skills and build character at the same time. There is no one benefit to being an athlete—or being on the path to become one. Teach them to love the game and the lessons the game has and will teach them. They will thank you for it as they journey throughout their academic career and even after that, whether they eventually become a professional athlete or not.

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