The Olympics have us all smiling with pride as we watch the United States compete. The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team winning the gold this past week was especially thrilling—such a commitment to excellence. There have been so many teachable moments to seize while watching the games, and I hope that you are enjoying the Summer Olympics with your children.
Even if your child is very young, pay particular attention if she shows an interest in a certain sport or sports figure. Young children love repetition! Record the sport she likes so she can watch it over and over. Go to the library and find a great book about the sport of the sports figure. Fostering your child’s natural interests allows you to flood her environment with literacy and enjoy her discoveries together.
If you have school-age children, there are so many great discussions that naturally occur from watching the triumphs and defeats. Here are some conversation starters that you might find useful.
- “Wow! How do you think he felt getting that close and then losing? Have you ever tried really hard to do something and felt bad because you didn’t make it? Did you try again?”
- “See that big smile on her face? She reached her goal of earning a gold medal, and she’s probably not thinking about all those hard days now. I bet that feels good. You must keep on trying to be able to smile like that one day about your success.”
- “It takes commitment to be good at anything. How many years do you think she worked to earn that medal? Let’s go look it up to see.”
- Some of the Olympians lived away from their families so that they could practice their sport with the right coach. That means they missed out on a lot of fun things that other children were able to do. That is called sacrifice.”
- “Most athletes talk about their ‘passion’ for what they do. You should love your sport, but that doesn’t mean that you will love doing it all the time. If you want to do something well, you must have a real passion for it. What do you really like to do? Should we try some new sport or activity that you think you might really enjoy?”
- Children need affirmation daily from those closest to them, and the Olympics provide a great opportunity to remind them how important they are to us. Encourage them with words such as: “Every athlete out there had someone who truly believed in them—typically a parent or a coach. I want you to know that I believe in you, and I am here to help you be the very best you. I am your number one fan, and I know you can do whatever you decide to do.”
Seize the teachable moments in life—especially during the Olympics. There are so many great opportunities to teach our children about our country, team spirit, the strength that lies within each of us, and the amazing accomplishments of those who love what they do.
Congratulations to all of the U.S. Olympians. We celebrate your success with you!
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.