Colleen Stewart is our guest columnist and the author of this article.
Supporting your child’s interests can have a profound positive effect on them well into adulthood, which is why getting involved early on is important. Participating in team sports can be beneficial for kids of all ages, boosting their self-esteem and helping them make social connections. However, keeping up with all the equipment, fees, and uniforms can be costly, especially if you have more than one child. The good news is that you can use several budget-friendly tactics when it comes to supporting your kids with their sports interests. Look for online resources that will give you tips on finding the right equipment and learning more about the sport itself. T-Ball America is a great place to start.
Use this guide to get some insight into how to support your kids’ interest in sports without breaking your budget:
Teach some important lessons
Being supportive of a child’s activities is about more than showing up for games; it’s also important to teach them how to get the most out of the sport by learning and applying the important lessons that go along with it. Communication, for instance, is an essential skill that every team member must learn. It’s also important to understand that failure is inevitable at times and that these are the moments we must learn from rather than getting upset or pointing fingers. Winning is always nice, but understanding how to be a true team player and work around setbacks will help your child for years to come, well into adulthood. Remember to model these behaviors when interacting with coaches and other parents.
Learn all you can about the sport
In order to teach your child more about the sport they’re interested in, it’s important that you have a good understanding of the basic rules as well as the team-specific policies. Watch professional teams battle it out on television, head to local games, and brush up on the terms associated with the sport, including positions and plays. You can also practice at home with your child, even if you have a tight schedule; grab a ball and have a quick game of catch after dinner, or head to the park on the weekend and utilize the equipment there for a little one-on-one.
Set up a great space at home
You can also set up a wonderful area at home for your child to practice and play in, which will both instill the benefits of working on their skills and show them that you’re invested in their chosen activity. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on creating such a space; take a look at your backyard area and get a feel for how you can make a few changes to ensure your child’s safety. Altering the landscaping is one of the easiest choices, but it’s a good idea to look online for customer reviews to find the right contractor for your needs and budget. You can also look up any active deals that local landscaping services are offering.
Network with other parents
While turning your backyard into a safe, fun space for your child to practice in is a great way to keep them motivated, it’s also a good idea to network with some other parents on the team in order to make mutually beneficial connections. You can offer the use of your practice space on some days in exchange for the use of theirs or use an app to set up carpooling schedules that will allow you to save on gas. Having the support of other parents can be extremely advantageous when it comes to saving both time and money, and they can also be helpful as you’re learning the ins and outs of being involved in the sport.
Don’t overextend yourself
Many kids find that they enjoy their chosen activity so much, they want to try more. While that sense of motivation is admirable, it will only overextend you and add to your stress levels–and budget–to take on more than one sport at a time. Create some limits with your child as far as their extracurricular activities are concerned, and consider making a deal with them regarding trying something new, such as allowing them to change things up after a year of commitment. You can also offer to have them try a sport they’re interested in via a video game. While it’s obviously not as involved as the real thing, it will at least give them an idea of the basics before making a commitment. If you have more than one child and they’re both interested in trying a sport, sign them up for the same activity. This way, you can get more use out of equipment by handing it down.
Look for deals
When it comes to equipment costs, you can explore all your options in order to save money. Look for secondhand deals on Facebook Marketplace, at garage sales, and in thrift shops, keeping in mind that you’ll need to know how to spot damage before purchasing. You can also try shopping at stores that specifically sell used sports gear or waiting until the end of the season to get what you need for next year. Finally, when choosing an activity with your child, look for sports that aren’t equipment-dependent or that don’t have many required supplies.
Another great way to save money on sports costs is to volunteer your time as a coach or as an organizer for fundraisers since these jobs typically come with discounts for the kids’ fees. Not only that, it will allow you to spend more time with your child and will show them how involved you are in their interests. Work with the team’s leaders to find out more about the game schedule and what your responsibilities would be in order to ensure that you can commit.
Supporting your child’s interests is instrumental in boosting their self-confidence and empathy and can even help them do better in school. It can also help you develop a stronger bond as you learn more about their chosen sport and take an active role in helping them build their skills.
Interested in learning more about t-ball? Check out the resources available at T-Ball America.
Colleen Stewart loves giving her two kids a healthy example to live by. Her passion for community and wellness inspired her and her husband to team up with their neighbors and create a playgroup that allows the adults and their kiddos to squeeze in a workout a few times a week. She created Playdate Fitness to help inspire other mamas and papas to make their well-being a priority, and set a healthy foundation for their little ones in the process. Her web site is: https://playdatefitness.com/
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