How to Choose a Sport for a Pre-schooler and Toddler?

Updated on August 02, 2011
J.K. asks from Savage, MN
16 answers

I have this question bothering me for a while. So I am posting it here so that I can get some ideas.

I am a mom of 3 1/2 year old and 2 year old boys . I am wondering how to choose a sport for my young kids. l see some of my friends have enrolled their kids (same age as my older one) into lot of activities. we didnt enroll him yet thinking he would go next year along with his brother to make use of the sibling discount and to save the time and effort in drop off and pick up. But are we doing any mistake just because we want to save some money? We are thinking of putting him into Soccer,Gymnastics,Swimming.
We take him to the swimming pool once or twice in a week and he loves swimming with floater.
Any ideas on where to enroll him for soccer and gymnastics in the twin cities. We live in savage. Thanks for your time!!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I don't think kids that age need an organized sport. I would give them swimming lessons as a safety thing, though.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

They are too young for organized sports. They first need to learn how to play cooperative games before they move on to competitive ones.

It is not good for children to be over-scheduled, as most of them are today. Children need simplicity in their lives. They need a rhythm to their day - every day. They need routine, and consistency. They will not get bored with it - it's good for them. They like to know what's coming next. It keeps them calm and on track.

And when they ARE old enough for team sports, limit them to one activity at a time. Remember, just because many other people are doing it to their children, does NOT make it good for them.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Don't feel pressured or in a hurry to schedule away your child's life!!! I think they're both young still. My son did a soccer session when he was 4, he cried the first few games because he didn't get the ball all of the time! Can't say that he really learned anything from that......Kids are now 7 and 9 and have been in martial arts classes 2x per week for almost 3 yrs now. It's plenty for us. I know in the next year or so, my older will want to do some other sport - football, basketball, etc but for now we like our free/down time!!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I wouldn't be in too much of a rush. He'll have just as much fun playing in the backyard at this point! We did t-ball this summer with my son, he just turned 5 a few weeks ago, and this was his first experience with organized sports. HE LOVED IT!!! And so did we....because he totally got the game. He learned the rules on the first day and was able to hit the ball really well. There were some 3 year olds on his team who the coach and parents had to literally walk through every motion during every single game. I personally would wait until the CHILD will actually understand and enjoy the game, not just the parents.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

... one thing is, don't feel you have to, be like all the other parents who may have their kids in everything.

Do what is appropriate, for your kids/you/the family/costs/etc.

At this age, it really is not a 'have to' that you have to enroll them in SO many classes!

I have 2 kids, who are 4 and 8.
My son, the 4 year old is not in anything. But he went to Preschool and will be going to Kindergarten soon.
My daughter, w ho is 8, takes Karate.
To others, this may seem like not much.
But for our kids and us, that is fine.
No biggie.
I do not enroll my kids in things, just because other parents are doing so.
They are not me and I am not them, nor my kids.

My son, is not ready to be in things. He even told us. Though he has many interests and abilities.

When my daughter was a Toddler, she took Toddler dance classes. This was what SHE wanted to try. So we did.
She also tried swimming. Then hated it.

For the Toddler ages, you need to go according to what your CHILD, is interested in.
I am not one, to push/force my kids into activities, unless it is THEIR interests.
Each child is different as well. Each child is an individual.

Keep in mind, that "sports" are not the ONLY options.
There are art or music based classes too.
Or dance.
Or marital arts.
Each type of class, will have their rules on what age a child can start.
Per developmental, reasons per age.

Kids at these ages, do NOT have to be, in ALL these things/classes.
Gosh, talk about being over-scheduled.
And once they are in Elementary school... homework, is a priority.

And when younger, I always had social things for my kids. And they had friends. It does not have to be, organized classes or 'sports.'
At this age anyway, Toddlers, are not fully into interacting... they still "Parallel Play"... and you need to know that.
Do not compare, your kids to other kids or what their parents may be doing with them.
It does NOT... make one kid better than the other.
It is NOT about keeping up with the Jones'.
It is about what is best, for YOUR child.
And not forcing them into things, just to keep up with the other parents.

The point is: to go by YOUR child's cues.
Not others.

They have many more years ahead of them... and at this age, many kids just need simply socialization... play groups.
Hanging out with Mommy.
Not their lives being all scheduled and hectic and driving to and fro from class to class and during the evenings.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

You mentioned your friends enrolling their small kids in lots of activities. So, are you wanting to do the same because they are, or do you really want your kids in activities? I would have them both do the swimming lessons, and that's it. They have plenty of time to do activities. I think kids at those ages don't really have the skills necessary to get through most group classes at that age. I think it's a huge waste of money, to have kids that age in lots of different classes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Don't rush it. Keep up the swim lessons, and wait a couple of years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I went through this exact same thing a few months ago. All of our friends had their children enrolled in some sort of activity and we didn't. It seemed very expensive to me for 8 to 10 sessions. After much consideration we decided to let our son choose one sport he wanted to try. He chose soccer. He loved to play in the yard with us and kick the ball around, however once we got to the field it was another story. He got so upset when the other kids got the ball and would walk off the field. He was 3 1/2 when he started, and had never seen a real soccer game. Our expectations were too high. If you want your boys to interact with other kids and have a good time you might want to consider it, however after our experience I think he was too young. I've heard of some YMCA offering a weekly sport activity. I think that's what we will do this fall. It's a different sport each week. It keeps them engaged and guessing.
Good luck with whatever you choose.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

Lots of times, there are sports classes for the 2-5 age range that introduce several sport skills in a one hour class. My son does one now where they do lots of activities every class...kicking soccer balls, shooting basketballs, batting off a tee, running, hopscotch, hula hooping, etc. It's great and the variety holds his attention. I really don't think they need to focus on one sport at this age. When he's 4, I'll enroll him in soccer because that's all there is around here, easy decision!

I only enroll my son in these classes because he LOVES them, I think as long as your son is having fun you can't go wrong. Soccer and gymnastics are both great sports to start with!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Are they expressing an interest in activities yet?

I only say this because once it starts, it happens fast and furious!
I wouldn't be in a rush...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Do YOU play sports? If not, maybe you should. Kids love to play with mom and dad. Even if it learning "catch" in the driveway. Take them to the beach and teach them how to swim yourself.

Active parents inspire active, well-directed kids. If we are couch potatoes, our kids are less likely to see any reason to do sports.

I'm betting there are some awesome beaches in/near Savage. Enjoy the hot weather! When winter comes, sledding is always free!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would enroll them in swimming lessons. I am a former lifeguard and I think it is an important life and safety skill to have, especially in our land of lakes. Other than that, wait until kindergarten or they express an interest in a particular sport. Starting them too young can backfire and their interests can change. Most cities in Minnesota have a youth athletic association for sports like baseball and soccer, but they need to be in kindergarten to enroll. Other than that, city parks and recs offer classes and t-ball. Heads up--organized t-ball can be really boring. Your boys might enjoy you buying a T for them to hit off of and just playing with you and your husband in the yard. I have two baseball players, ages 11 and 15, so we've been through this. We pretty much let them take the lead with the sports they are interested in and after trying baseball, hockey, wrestling, soccer, track, cross country and football, we are a baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter family. I also firmly believe in ONE SPORT at a time. We've made limited exceptions to that rule over the years for special circumstances, but otherwise they get over scheduled and their bodies don't recover either. My older son has so many friends who already have repetitive stress injuries that may affect them the rest of their lives and they are only 14 and 15 years old! Good luck.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Soccer seems to be the busiest sport, with no standing still. Tball there is lot of standing still.


answers from St. Louis on

We put my daughter (almost four) in gymnastics with her best friend 10 weeks ago (10 week session). Now that it's almost over, I told her that dance (with another good friend) will start in a few weeks. She seemed nervous but said she wanted to do it. I told her that she will know her friend and if she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to continue to go. Then she followed up by telling me she didn't want to do either. Problem solved!

I think I'll ask again a few months about dance or gymnastics and then when she's in school, they do soccer in our town (and maybe tball?). I would like her to try Girl Scouts (something I never did but would like to do with her. Hubby will try Boy Scouts with our son) and then I hope that she will choose some sport in school to see if she likes it. I played basketball and soccer in elementary school as well as dance and gymnsatics but gave them all up because I didn't really like them. I started cheerleading in 4th grade and continued that until I was a junior in high school (along with gymnastics).

I say give it a try - just choose one thing for now (we won't put our almost two year old into anything until he's 3 or older though and probably will do football or soccer or tball). The two year old boys may be a little small for a class like that. Swimming would be good because it's short (only a few weeks). Soccer and gymnastics are longer but gymnastics classes are usually offered in 'sessions' so you can have them try it out for 10 weeks and if they like it, continue.

I also think that some places have classes for the younger boys - but they are more geared towards playing (parents involved). You could maybe do this and also have your older child in an older class...but at our gym, they classes are one after the other so unless you have hubby go with you, what would you do with her during their class (and vice versa).

Good luck!



answers from San Antonio on

We picked sports with a life time impact...martial arts and swimming.

With martial arts (which our kids will be in until they are black belts or 18) will serve them well to protect themselves and others. They get great discipline and working as a group...then a small bit of competition as there isn't much sparring involved.

With swimming...well being able to swim is important as it can save their lives. we want our kids to be able to swim very well, as a life skill.

All other sports to me aren't as important and if our son or daughter wants to play them later we will look into it...but unless they show an interest we will not pursue it.


answers from Dallas on

There is a mommy and me tumble class that can be fun for little ones. I don't see how that could hurt. Once my boy was 4 and showed an interest, we started joining teams at the ymca. They space them apart so, you're never doing more than one sport at a time. They have basketball, tball, and soccer, with swimming in the summer. We only practice one day a week with one game a week. No one keeps score. It's fun, and its very relaxed. It's just a chance to meet new people and learn to play on a team. We work on skills, but mainly its just fun. We take lots of pictures and they get a trophy. I can tell you that if your kids have sensitive hearing, steer clear of basketball. It's crazy loud in the gym and can be overwhelming for the little guys. ooohhhh by the way - there is no drop off and pick up. You are expected to stay.

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