In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that we don’t start our kids in sports until they’re 8 years old, which is 2nd grade. Every time I mention that idea either on the blog or in person to friends or acquaintances, I always get some questions. This is not a philosophy I try and push on anybody else because it is quite personal, but for us it was very deliberate.

Steve and I are both very interested in sports – we both competed in a number of sports, so this is not a lack of being athletic or understanding sports. But when Hallie was young and all of her friends started sports, it didn’t feel like the right time for her or for us. What I found interesting was the number of parents complaining about the sports their kids were participating in. They complained of the evening practice, the Saturday games, having to entertain younger siblings in the process – they complained of the rush and the busyness.

As I observed others participation in sports with young kids, I realized we could probably give our kids a similar experience in our backyard without having to participate in organized sports. Although Steve would have been fine starting kids in sports a little younger, he was supportive of waiting a little longer.

Our family backyard games began. Sometimes it was Steve throwing the ball with Hunter. Sometimes it was shooting baskets with Hallie. Sometimes it was coach pitch baseball or 2 vs 2 soccer. It was unstructured, not to mention it was flexible, free and fun. But it was deliberate.

As Hunter got older – his experience in the backyard was valuable and before long we had parents asking why Hunter couldn’t be on their son’s teams – they would take him and bring him home. But I felt good about our decision and even with someone taking him and bringing him home – he would be gone at dinner and again on Saturdays. Don’t get me wrong – I’m okay with this…eventually. I get sports are consuming and it takes hard work and effort to truly improve – all of which I’m okay with. But for me the benefit the young kids may or may not get from an organized sport does not outweigh the cost.

We’ve found that by introducing and playing sports with them at home they are not behind or unable to keep up with their peers who may have been playing for several years at that point. Like I said before – its a personal decision. I love being home. I love unstructured play time for my kids and they enjoy it. It’s a decision that works for our family and for what we value most. Could that change down the road? Absolutely. My philosophy is it works until it doesn’t!