07-27-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
Every four years the world comes together to watch athletes from all over compete in the summer Olympics. The Olympic Games bring Americans together as they cheer on their favorite athletes and ultimately root for Team USA.
The Olympics are a great activity for families to watch together and can also offer a number of valuable lessons for kids. The experts at Dayton Children’s encourage parents to use the Olympics as a time to get kids interested in exercising, learning about goals and talking about winning and losing.
Five ways to use the Olympics as a learning opportunity for your kids!
1.The importance of exercise-The percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Although many factors contribute to this epidemic, children are becoming more sedentary. In other words, they're sitting around a lot more than they used to. The Olympics are a great time to expose your children to some new ideas for exercising and to encourage them to choose an activity that they might enjoy. After your kids finish watching the athletes on TV, encourage them to get off the couch and start moving!
2. Goal setting-The Olympic athletes have spent many hours and many years training in their sport. They didn’t become world-class athletes overnight but rather through a lot of training, perseverance and goal setting. Talk to your kids about setting goals for something they want to accomplish. This could be within a sport or in a different activity such as getting good grades, excelling at a musical instrument, or learning to paint. They don’t have to be an Olympian to be successful, but these athletes can definitely serve as good role models for your kids on what it looks like when you set your mind to something and persevere.
3.Sportsmanship- Obviously the goal of the Olympics is to take home a medal for your country. However, not everyone can be a winner and this is an important lesson for kids to learn even at a young age. It is also important for them to learn how they can still treat their opponents with respect. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially their parents and their coaches. Kids who see adults behaving in a sportsmanlike way gradually come to understand that the real winners in sports are those who know how to persevere and to behave with dignity — whether they win or lose a game. Watch how the athletes in the Olympics react to winning and losing and how they treat their opponents and use this as an example for your kids between good and bad sportsmanship.
4. Diversity and acceptance- Today, more than ever, kids interact with people of differing ethnicities, religions, and cultures. But how do you teach them to embrace and thrive among the planet's many cultures? One of the best parts of the Olympics is how countries from all around the world come together to share in their common language of sports and athleticism. Parents can use this as a starting point for conversations on embracing other cultures. Parents should help their kids prepare to live, learn, and work in communities that will become even more diverse. Teaching tolerance is important because the person who learns to be open to differences will have more opportunities in education, business, and many other aspects of life.
5.The Paralympic Games- The Paralympic Games are a major international multi-sport event where athletes with a physical disability compete; this includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy. These are held after the summer Olympics and will take place August 29-September 9 this year. Watching these games in addition to the regular Olympics games is a great learning experience for kids because it shows how people with disabilities can accomplish activities that they might never have thought possible. Once again this showcases perseverance, goal setting and offers another opportunity to talk to your kids about accepting people who are different than them.
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