Many of us turn our attention to our health and fitness goals in January and it’s a great time to take up new sporting activities. If you’re trying to persuade your children to leave their games consoles alone and participate in youth sports, however, you could have a challenge on your hands.
Here are five fantastic children’s activity ideas to help you to inspire your family to become more active in 2017.
1. Football – Taking Part in the Beautiful Game
Whilst it’s difficult to find a definitive list of the most popular youth sports in the UK, football is frequently cited as being at top of the table. It’s a firm favourite on the British school curriculum and, in 2015, the government announced that the Premier League School Sport initiative, which uses football to “develop skills and ambition both on and off the sports field” would be rolled out to every primary school by 2021. The F.A. also launched a programme for secondary schools in 2015.
89% of primary schools and 90% of secondary schools that took part in the Youth Sports Trust’s National PE, School Sport and Physical Activity Survey (January 2015) said they offered it as an extra-curricular option, so your child’s school may run after-school sessions.
Many local youth teams participate in regional leagues, while most professional football clubs offer courses for kids in the holidays, so check what’s available in your area – and never underestimate the health benefits of a simple kick-about in the park.
2. Athletics – Getting Youngsters on the Right Track
Athletics remains a school curriculum staple and household names like the recently honoured Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, have given budding track and field stars plenty to aspire to.
54% of primary schools and 78% of secondary schools who responded to the 2015 Youth Sports Trust’s National PE, School Sport and Physical Activity Survey said athletics was amongst the extra-curricular activities they provided, so your kids may be able to participate after school.
Many local athletics clubs provide dedicated sessions for youngsters. Parkrun UK also organises 2k timed runs for children throughout the UK and participation is free of charge.
3. Swimming – Encourage Your Kids To Take the Plunge
More than 2.5 million adults in England swim at least once a week, making it the nation’s most popular sporting activity. It’s a superb option for anyone who wants to keep fit, but knowing how to swim could save your life too.
According to the government, all children should be able to swim 25 metres unaided by the time they go to secondary school. Unfortunately, however, figures released in 2014 showed that not all primary schools were meeting these targets, so you can make a real difference by taking your children to the pool regularly.
If you aren’t confident in your own abilities to teach your child, contact local swimming clubs to see what tuition options they offer. The Amateur Swimming Association includes some handy information for parents on its website and runs a Learn to Swim awards scheme.
4. Climbing – Enjoy Getting in Peak Condition
Competitive climbing is a serious business, with many prestigious trophies available. Last year, the International Olympic Committee even announced that sport climbing would be included in the 2020 Olympic Games. However, climbing is also the ideal activity for families looking for something fun to do.
Climbing can help your child to become more confident and improve their motor skills, coordination, flexibility and muscle strength.
There are indoor climbing centres in towns and cities across the UK, where children – and adults – can learn to scale walls safely with the correct equipment. If you’d rather be out in the fresh air, however, try outdoor rock climbing. The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) offers a number of courses, including residential options for teens.
5. Cycling – Pedal Your Way to Fitness
Want to get fit? Get on your bike! No, seriously, it’s true. Not only will cycling reguarly improve your children’s fitness levels, it will also get them out and about, and make them feel independent.
Cycling is a wonderful family activity and you should be able to find a range of routes to explore with ease. When planning a bike ride with children, make sure you are well-stocked with drinks, snacks and bike repair tools, however. Adjust your pace to accommodate the slowest member of your party and try to avoid busy roads.
Sustrans, a UK charity, has some excellent resources for budding cyclists on its website, including features about family-friendly cycle routes.
How can we increase participation levels in youth sports in the UK? Do you have any children’s activity ideas to recommend? Let us know below.