Extracurricular activities are an investment for the whole family. As a parent, you’ll spend a pretty penny over the years helping your kids participate in baseball, violin lessons, or scouts. For your child, the way they spend their time may alter their social skills or even impact their brain! If you must choose between sports and music when it comes time to pick a new hobby, there are a few things to keep in mind. Of course, your child’s natural interests are an important factor — they may be more likely to remain committed to their practice if they’re passionate. You should also consider which parts of your child’s development you want to prioritize: sports and music have some unique benefits.
Benefits of Sports
From softball to football, there are specific benefits to participating in some on-field action, especially when it’s a team sport. On top of helping kids maintain physical health, there are several social and mental skills that tend to develop when young people are engaged in sports from an early age. The benefits particularly unique to participating in sports include:
- Teamwork: Learning to coordinate with teammates toward a mutual reward is a natural part of being on a soccer, football, or other sports team. Being able to put heads together and problem solve is a skill that will remain necessary later in life.
- Coping with loss: You win some, you lose some, as the old adage goes. And it happens to be true. Participating in sports means competing against other athletes and learning to deal with a loss (and be a gracious winner).
- Finding a place on the field: Not everyone is skilled at everything — and that’s quite alright. Being part of a sports team can mean trying out for pitcher, being awful, and finding a sweet spot in the outfield. Being engaged in sports from a young age can teach kids to keep trying until they find the thing they excel at.
Benefits of Music
Learning to play music has its own special benefits. While there are few fitness-related advantages to being great at the cello or piano, that doesn’t mean the brain won’t grow strong in the process of learning music. The benefits specific to music lessons include:
- Language development: While reading music is a language of its own, studying it also helps students with their regular language development – especially between the ages of 2 and 9. Music helps students grow the part of their brain that decodes and masters language. It can even increase overall academic performance.
- Emotional development: Music can also help kids tap into emotions in a way that physical activity does not. Because music lessons are a gender-inclusive activity, they offer an opportunity for boys and girls to gain emotional intelligence points equally.
- Improved creativity: In a world that is becoming increasingly driven by technology and innovation, expanding one’s creativity is always a good thing. And mastering the art of music can do just that for a young brain.
Some benefits of sports and music overlap. They may manifest in very different ways, but these benefits can be reaped whether your child straps on a pair of cleats or strums a guitar:
- Honing discipline and focus: Whether your child is involved in music or athletics, they will require focus to improve their skills. Likewise, it takes as much discipline to master the clarinet or hit a particularly challenging note as it does to have perfect form and make a free throw on the first try.
- Building personal responsibility skills: Children will learn a lot about personal responsibility in both sports and music. The band requires each student to do their fair share of practice and come with the piece memorized, and the basketball team needs every athlete to arrive on the court ready to give the game 100%.
- Identifying goals: Maybe it’s memorizing the last ten bars of a song and maybe it’s winning the championship – but goal setting is important. No matter if your kid is in music or sports, they will learn to set and strive for the milestones that matter to them.
A well-rounded child can turn into a strong and compassionate adult, but there are multiple roads that lead there. Both sports and music have their advantages – which is right for your child is up to you!
What have you learned through the dedicated practice of athletics or music?