WE ALWAYS SUSPECTED that our little P would be interested in playing sports. Something about the way she ran at full-speed through parks… and shopping malls. Or the way she preferred the rock-climbing wall at the playground… shortly after she mastered walking.
So as her 3rd birthday neared, we began searching for options.
We tried one dance class, which ended up being disastrous.
Thankfully, just before her birthday, we stumbled upon an introductory Soccer class. It was only five weeks long. Was only one day a week of learning and fun – no games. And didn’t require a 5-year payment plan just to attend.
I CONFESS, I entered our first class with trepidation. After our ballet experience, I half expected her to throw the ball at me and run out the door. But I noticed things were going well when she actually let me put on her shin guards. I rubbed my hands together and cackled with delight when the coach spoke firmly to her that it was time to sit in the circle (because if I had done that it may have resulted in a complete meltdown). And while she wasn’t perfect – had trouble listening sometimes, kept using her hands, and preferred to clear the ball as hard as she could instead of dribbling – her laughter and excitement and occasional attentiveness told me we’d made the right choice.
She confirmed it even further when we finished class and she loudly proclaimed, “Mommy! I had FUN at my soccer class!”
Now, a year ago? I never would have tried it. Even six months ago I wouldn’t have wasted the money. Her personality, her focus on mastering more important skills – like talking and peeing – were taking precedence over her future athletic career. But as I watched her grow closer to three, I could tell that she was ready to step up her game (no pun intended). It was time to learn a skill. To listen to a coach. To practice following directions. And maybe, one day, work as a team.
AS YOU WATCH your little ones grow and develop, wondering what they will enjoy in a year or three years or ten years, keep in mind that your child is unique. They have unique gifts, unique interests, and unique personalities. Maybe they want to dance just like big sister. Or maybe they are overwhelmed by too much stimulation – equipment, other kids, ballet barres that look like jungle gyms. Maybe they are mastering some life skills right now and don’t need the added stress of a class or group setting. I believe if you don’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing, they’ll let you know when they’re ready.
And while there is no question that it’s great to start them early in an active and healthy lifestyle, interacting with other children and adults in an organized setting, the bottom line is this:
you know your child best.
SO TRY OUT the free classes. Dip your toes in the water of different activities. Go to the on-location birthday parties. And you just watch… watch what makes them squeal with delight. See what makes them light up. Wait for the excitement and the constant chatter about the next time we go to (fill in the blank). Then take the plunge.
They might surprise you!
Knoxville has some great, organized activities for children of all ages, starting as young as 4 months! Here are some of our favorites… we’d love to hear yours!
The Little Gym– Two Locations; gymnastics/tumbling, ballet, infant strength & mobility, starting at 4 months
Angela Floyd Schools– Two Locations; tumbling, ballet/tap, music funtime, starting at 2 years
Tataru’s– West Knoxville; gymnastics & tumbling, starting at 15 months
Gym Bugs– West Knoxville; gymnastics/tumbling & music, starting at 22 months
Cool Sports– Farragut; ice skating (3), hockey (4), soccer (2)
Knoxville Football Club– Various locations; soccer, starting at age 3
Knoxville Youth Sports– Various locations; t-ball (3), basketball (4), flag football (4), lacrosse (9)
Upward– Various locations; basketball, soccer, cheerleading, starting at age 3 depending on location
YMCA Knoxville – Various locations; basketball (4), flag football (6), soccer (4)
Premier Martial Arts– 5 Area locations; karate, starting at age 3