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Tuesday, February 22, 2005


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Very interesting, especially the quote from the Junior Sport Policy.

We will be thinking about this issue in relation to Harry in years to come: like Olle, Harry is very well co-oridinated and has exceptional ball skills.

We are not fans of martial arts, so that's not on the agenda for Harry, Molly or Sally.

I'm interested in Olle's dancing and your encouragement of it, because I have the opposite inclination in terms of my daughters. I worry that ballet and gymnastics send the wrong messages to girls, particularly in relation to body image (eating disorders being rife in these sports). I find it a bit scary to see girls as young as 4 and 5 dressed in pretty pink tutus with their hair just so.

My preference is for activities that are about freedom and strength. In the next couple of years I hope the children will continue to enjoy swimming. We'll be encouraging Nippers and sailing, and see how they feel about ball games and team sports when they get older.

I do think that sports and organized sports helps to give children interpersonal skills that can't be found elsewhere and when older it helps them prepare to deal with ups and downs of life. So while piano and what not are great, some kind of organized sport (dare I suggest baseball) is a good resource and skill builder.

Lucinda, I know what you mean about the girls in tutus. It is ridiculous that there is such strict genderisation of children doing ballet. I never did ballet myself as a child (I did do 'physical culture', which is apparently still around). I have friends who do dance and movement as adults, all of whom are critical of ballet in terms of how rigid it is as a form of movement. Nevertheless, I put my son into it - partly because it was the only type of dance class easily accessible to us (most dance schools want kids to do ballet before they start jazz or tap)(I did once come across an ad for a more radical form of dance movement for children - I can't remember the name of it now - but did not investigate as we had already started ballet) and because we had already been at that particular dance school for a year, had made friends there and liked it. Ballet is very different for a boy - not in terms of what they do physically in the early stages, but as a concept and as an expression of the child's fantasies/ideas. I notice the girls have fantasies about being ballerinas etc, whereas the boys seem to like it for the physicality and expressiveness. I also wanted my son to do something which involved music. I think it's been very good for him in terms of self-control, gracefulness, musicality, athleticism. So far he seems to enjoy it and wants to continue.
The more I think about it, the more I agree with you that team sports are for an older age, nine plus.

I think team sports are important for children even though they are the antithesis of my own physical interests (I like solitary walks and lap-swimming).

My daughter does dancing, drama, swimming and softball. One Saturday morning when she wasn't feeling too well I suggested she stay home from that day's scheduled softball game. C said to me, "Oh no, Dad, I have to go, I can't let the rest of the team down!"

I was pleased with that attitude and hope she carries it with her throughout her life.

I think it depends on the child, we started last year with soccer for Elliot and he was in a team with some boys who were quite confident and talented, he was able to hold his own with them. I think he learned alot about winning and losing and about being responsible i.e. going to training and the game every week to support a team effort.

He is doing it again this year and it will be different again, he is likely to be the player with confidence and talent and there will be newcomers who will learn from him. I wanted him to have a year where he could build on his newly gained skills. He seems to be enjoying it.

Scarred by my own childhood experiences which equated most kinds of sport with pure hell on earth, I'm glad my kids are willing to do anything and if they enjoy it, more power to them. For the boys it seems to be football. My daughter has now started yoga. But whatever it might be, all of it is useful in the physical sense. If the social aspect works, marvellous, for I fear that's where it all went wrong for me. My oldest son in particular really enjoyed his football in the first year, although they lost every match by a wide margin and (between you and me) he's far from being the most talented player. He even insisted on going to the xmas party that first year when he was new, though his two classmates in the team couldn't go. Maybe I'm not setting my objectives too high, but I reckon the sports are pretty interchangable. The issue is whether the whole set-up delivers the expected results. I'll only get angry if his role model is Wayne Rooney.

It sounds like you and your nephew have been very unlucky with soccer, personally I wouldn't start a child at team sports until the age of eight.
My son really enjoyed soccer and met some good friends, all of whom would have been given a thumping playing the AFL code. We have also found tennis to be terrific, I learned a lot about teamwork watching the boys planning strategies on the court. It is also usually a game with a lot of adult supervision and kids can learn a lot about good conduct on the court, sportsmanship, etc. if you find a good club where the junior convenors are well supported.Good luck. And tell Olle to please keep up the dancing, that sounds fabulous.
My daughter performed in 'Hot Mikado' with a terrific tapdancer this year - 17 year old from a Marist Brothers school, she thought he was the ants' pants.

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