Kids, like adults, need a certain amount of physical activity every day to stay healthy. According to Kids Health, 6- to 12-year-olds need around 60 minutes of exercise a day. This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights. It could look like running around in the yard, climbing in the park with friends, or participating in a traditional sports league such as soccer, basketball, or baseball.
Think of ways to encourage your child to be physically active, but be careful not to relate it to the child’s weight or growth. Even children in their pre-teen years can be sensitive about the way they look or how much they weigh — even if you don’t think they have a reason to worry. Aside from developing a healthy body, participating in sports offers several benefits for children and teens:
- Improved cognitive skills through their school years
- Better control of their bodies
- Learning to work in a team environment if they play a team-based sport
- Higher self-confidence and self-esteem than their peers who do not play sports
- Better vision and fewer vision problems overall
If you’re struggling to pay for expensive sports camps or find budget-friendly equipment for your child’s favorite sport, don’t worry. There are ways to encourage your child’s love of sports as well as encourage his or her physical and mental development on any budget. Presented by the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, check out the three ideas below before whipping out your credit card to finance that new lacrosse stick.
1. Find Affordable Equipment and Practice Spaces
Think about asking friends and family members to borrow sports equipment they or their children no longer use or offer to pay for it at a lower price than you’d see in stores. You can also check secondhand shops and rentals, and ask your child’s school about additional options.
Encourage your child to practice the sport at home rather than pay for gym fees or transportation to fields. Consider hiring a lower-cost lawn care service to turn your yard into a place to practice. Typical homeowners pay about $30-$80 for lawn care. As always, check online reviews at sites like Angi.com and get word-of-mouth recommendations to make sure the professionals are qualified and licensed if necessary.
2. Commit to One or Two Sports at a Time
Encourage your children to pick one, or preferably two, sports they like and to stick with them. Kids will naturally fall in and out of love with many activities throughout their childhood, and it’s important to give them as many experiences as you can — but maybe not all at once.
3. Ask a Friend or Family Member for Coaching Help
If your daughter loves cross-country running and your father was a champion runner in his day, he may not be able to run like he used to, but he could definitely give your child some tips. Ask around in your social circle for individuals willing to give lessons for a lower cost than those who advertise at your child’s school. You may find people who want to help for free, too.
There’s always a way to turn a costly sport into a budget-friendly adventure that works for every member of the family. Consider letting your child join the sports league of his or her choice, focusing on one sport per season (or year), and finding gear through your social network before putting your child’s passion on hold.