If you have children, then you may be thinking that this is a natural things they do, explore sports, but I’m not talking about them being on a team for a season. What I’m talking about is allowing them to explore several kinds of sports in their free afternoon activities that will allow them to learn the rules of the game, see if they can figure out how to play with family and some friends, and how they may enjoy the different sports.
As our older children were growing, we were often pressured for them to join different youth teams because they seemed to have talent in one area of sports, or in our son’s situation, most sports he tried.
Our philosophy for children and how they explore sports may seem more old fashion than what you may expect today, but it holds true to the Charlotte Mason method that our family has loved to implement into our homeschooling and it has proven to be crucial for out oldest son.
When I first began to focus on providing options for our children’s free afternoon activities, I looked for tools, like I would curriculum, for them to use and learn skills with, in order to further their love of learning and encourage independent learning. Sports was no different.
When we found tennis rackets at yard sales, we bought them and would spend a few weeks learning what we could about tennis through books, and then we headed to the tennis court to see how to actually implement how to play this sport.
We did the same for football, softball, basketball, golf, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, canoeing, paddle boating, fishing and anything else that would come to our mind.
The memories of our family heading to the ball field, with a picnic in toe, to improve on skills for a sport that caught our attention, to only see our children working on it during the week on their own are priceless.
One of these sports caught on to our oldest son, Micah, and he would continue to grab the used golf clubs we would find at yard sales, along with the balls we collected on our hunts as well, and practice this skill.
Book after book were brought home from the library, and my struggling reader turned non-lover of books, would pour hours over golf books to learn the techniques for the different types of strokes needed for this sport of golf.
He began asking to record a show called the Golf Fix and watch one in the afternoon, followed by a few hours outside practicing what he just learned from the show.
Next thing we know, he wanted to take all he learned to the golf course to see how he did with his independent learning, and although my husband wasn’t a golfer, he took him happily and invited a friend that did golf, and his son.
When they returned, my husband told me that our friend was so impressed with Micah, who did better than his son who has been coached and in lessons for a while. I shouldn’t have been shocked by this, knowing how much I trusted the Charlotte Mason method of education, but we are talking about sports here and it still worked.
Right after that, my son wanted to go to the golf course as often as our budget would allow. After about a year of our family going to the golf range to enjoy just hitting the ball and getting Micah more practice within our budget, he told us that he wanted to be a Professional on the PGA tour.
So at age 16, we looked for him to begin competing with youth his age, to see if this ‘dream’ was something we backed up or if his interest would die down when he would lose a few games. Although his first few competitions were hard, as he was working on his nerves and the stress of competing, we continued to spend a season of Saturdays on the golf course watching our son learn how to compete.
During the two years of the competing season, Micah placed first many times, several second and third places, even a few with out metals, while competing against others his age that he coaches and were on golf teams, getting far more practice on the course than he did.
He was hooked, and so were we, but we knew we needed to do something to get him even more practice because golf isn’t a cheap sport. Once he was ready for a job, he applied for a job at the course of his desire and he got the job. Now, he plays for free and can work on his game anytime he wants to and that includes teaching us, as a family, for free as well.
We know that his goal is to play in the PGA, and we know that if he continues to work hard on it, he can and will be successful at it, however we also see that if God has a different plan for his life that he is very skilled at being a golf instructor and the course he works at would be thrilled to have him fill that position for them.
We had no idea what life had in store for our son, when we added sports to our free afternoon activities and that first time, I picked up some golf things from a yard sale and said, “Golf may be fun for the kids to play around with.”
Don’t forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series…