Back to sports and activities |

Back to sports and activities

Shelley Polansky
Better Business Bureau

A new school year often means a mad scramble by parents to find suitable after-school activities and programs for their kiddos. A variety of opportunities for youths of all ages abounds. In addition to extracurricular and community sports teams, students and parents can choose from an array of classes ranging from karate to gymnastics and from dance to music.

Where to begin? Start with the facility and staff. Is it clean and safe? Are the teachers and aides trained, and do they have proper certifications? Have all staff and volunteers passed background checks? Is the equipment safe? And how often is it sanitized? What is the staff-to-student ratio? What happens if a child becomes sick or injured?

Next, look for programs that provide opportunities in physical, cognitive and emotional development. This ensures that your child has fun and gains strength, balance and coordination — and develops social skills and self-confidence.

Be sure to check out the staff to ensure that your child will be around teachers or coaches who bring not only a solid knowledge of the sport or activity but energy, creativity and love for children. Are one-on-one connections encouraged? Are parents made to feel engaged?

The Better Business Bureau offers the following list of dos and don’ts:

Let kids have a say in what activities or sports they want to try. If it’s something they want to do, chances are they’ll stick with it.

Don’t use activities or sports as a baby sitter. Make a point of going to practices or rehearsals when possible, attend games or recitals, and get to know the coaches or teachers.

Be the example. Children pick up important cues from parents when it comes to good behavior. Show respect for all coaches, teachers and players. Do not belittle those who underperform, but rather let them know their efforts are appreciated.

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