The Benefits of Sports for Gifted Kids
by Kelly Gray, Administrative Assistant
It’s common knowledge that kids can benefit from participation in sports: weekly exercise, the opportunity to make new friends, development of leadership skills, and much more. However, what may not be so well-known is that participating in sports can have an even greater benefit for gifted students.
From violin and painting to robotics and debate, gifted children have many interests and often very little free time, but here is why you should consider signing them up for a sport as well:
Having a Safe Place to Fail
Most gifted kids are used to excelling and don’t know how to handle not being at the top of the pack. Chances are gifted children will not be the best soccer players on the team, but that is ok. Missing a goal is not going to affect their chances of getting into the school of their dreams. What it will do, however, is teach them that they won’t always reach perfection in everything they do, and that is just fine.
Opportunities to Broaden Friendships
Playing on a sports team or taking classes such as tennis or fencing allows gifted children to connect with kids outside their regular peer group. They will meet students with varying interests and intellect and learn to communicate better with them. Surprisingly, they may find they have more in common with their new teammates or classmates than they would have thought.
Occasions to Let off Steam and Play
Gifted students can often feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and the pressure to be perfect. Participating in a sport allows them an opportunity to get outside, exercise, clear their heads, and focus on something completely different. In fact, at Yunasa and Yunasa West, IEA’s summer camps, one of the most popular activities is GaGa Ball, a variation of dodgeball. And, in IEA’s post-camp surveys, the kids always mention that they just love to get outside and play.
Studies have shown that the physical activity of a sport helps to engage the brain in forward thinking. Many gifted students find that participating in a sport calms their active minds and enables them to be more successful in their academic studies.
Learning to Work as Part of a Team
Many gifted students tend to prefer working independently. By participating in a team sport, gifted students must learn to work with their teammates in order to achieve success. This is such an important skill since teamwork is required for just about all aspects of life— school, business, and personal relationships.
In sum, gifted kids can benefit greatly from participating in sports. And, while it can be quite a time commitment for the whole family (hours of after-school practice and weekend games), gifted children should try a sport— at least once. It will give them a better understanding of themselves as well as other children, provide a sense of balance in their lives, and make them more well-rounded individuals.
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