There’s a natural excitement that comes with the Olympics. You can use that excitement to encourage positive learning experiences and give your child the chance to explore new interests and activities.
Here are 5 ways to help your child get the most out of the Olympics:
1. Watch the Olympics together.
Watch your child’s favorite event or events and maybe an event that’s new for your child. For toddlers and older preschoolers, you could have some Olympic-inspired activities set up on shelves in the room where your family watches television. That way your child could enjoy watching some Olympic events with you but not feel forced to watch events he or she isn’t interested in.
Even if you feel the stories of the athletes are sometimes “fluff” pieces, those are often the most interesting and inspiring for children (and people like me). They’re a good springboard for character-building discussions with your child.
2. Do some Olympic-inspired educational activities.
There are SO MANY great Olympic activities you can do to help prevent the “summer slide” if your child is still on summer vacation. And whether or not you’re still on summer vacation, the Olympics are a great way to refresh or continue your child’s excitement for learning.
You and your child can read Olympic books, check out lots of online Olympic resources, make Olympic crafts, make an Olympic scrapbook, learn about different countries, study the history of the Olympics, learn about different sports….
There are too many great educational activities to even begin to list them all here. I have an Olympic Unit Study Pinterest Board where I’m pinning Olympic posts, websites, and activities of all kinds and for all ages.
The number of activities available can seem overwhelming, but I recommend just choosing some you feel drawn to. You can even have your child help you choose activities he or she would like to do. I also have a Montessori-Inspired Olympic Unit with activities you can choose or you and your child can choose together. I’m adding to both my post and Pinterest board throughout the Olympics, so keep checking back for new ideas. Note: If you’d like an Olympic creed word art freebie (and information on the Olympic creed and Olympic motto), I have that here: Olympic Creed Word Art Freebie.
I’m also excited to be participating in Kids Bloggers Go Olympics, where you’ll find activities and ideas throughout the 18 days of the Olympics! I’m pinning each of those posts to my Olympic Unit Study Pinterest Board, too. And I’ll have an Opening Ceremony post at Living Montessori Now tomorrow!
3. Encourage your child to try out a new sport.
Whether or not your child has discovered a favorite sport, now is a great time for your child to try out something new. It could be a one-day activity that may or may not lead to something exciting. My husband and I tried to give our children lots of opportunities to find what they loved. You never know what might spark a new interest or even a new career.
For our son, a cub scout activity in which he worked to earn medals for trying various sports led to both our kids’ careers as adults. For Will, it was a one-day skiing activity that showed his natural talent at skiing, which led to ski racing, which led to our moving to Vail, Colorado, which led to our kids discovering figure skating, which led to lots of great family trips to competitions, which led to international competitions (and Christina living in Great Britain and representing Great Britain in ice dance), which led to both of our kids having successful careers in skating.
Whether your child is interested in sports just for fun or as an intense part of his or her life, there are many character-building benefits to sports when they’re encouraged in a healthy way.
4. Hold your own family Olympics or an Olympic-themed celebration.
This could be a fun way to encourage movement and physical fitness, promote family togetherness, and/or just have a fun celebration. The Olympic-themed event could be a party for neighborhood kids as well. You’ll find lots of ideas for family Olympics and Olympic parties on my Olympic Unit Study Pinterest Board.
5. Get caught up in the excitement of the Olympics, but remember that it’s all about the journey.
Allow you and your child to feel the excitement of the Olympics. It’s okay if your child has Olympic dreams after watching the Olympics (whether or not your child will actually ever compete in the Olympics). I have more about following those interests in my post “Raising an Elite Athlete.” One of the links in that post is particularly relevant to a lot of parents’ worries about allowing those dreams: “What If My Child Doesn’t Win the Olympics? Is It Alright to Dream?”
What’s most important in this excitement is truly following your child’s interests. Your child’s Olympic wishes may foreshadow an exciting sports career. Or they may be stepping stones leading to something else which is exciting in an entirely different way. Just trust that following your child’s interest will lead to something wonderful. And be careful that you don’t get your own Olympic dreams mixed up in your child’s.
The Carl Lewis quote is one that my family always found helpful for keeping things in perspective: “It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.”
Have fun, and enjoy the excitement of the Olympics! I’d love to hear how your kids are involved!