A good coach can mean a lot to a child
Over the many years during which my three children had done extracurricular activities, there is one particular lesson I have learnt and would like to share. It is this:
There is a time in the life of a child when a GOOD coach, teacher or mentor (which is not you), can mean a lot to a child. Give your child that opportunity.
Maybe it is a sports coach, a club’s supervisor, a youth pastor, a music teacher, or another mentor of some sort. Any other adult in your child’s life who provides good input into his/her life, is a necessary ingredient to the overall education that forms your child. I would even go so far as to say, it is very necessary to have somebody like this in your child’s life at least once - maybe more. The challenge, however, is in finding one, because not all coaches are good! Some may even hurt your child, which is the risk you always take when choosing extramural activities.
As homeschool parents, we sometimes think that we can do anything and everything with our children, but alas, it is not true. In a sense, what a relief that we cannot do everything! So when you start with the process of choosing extramurals, choose wisely. It is important not to start too young. And do not do too many things at once! Choose one or two and first see how it goes; then evaluate after a while to see whether it is worth it or not.
As homeschool parents, we sometimes think that we can do anything and everything with our children, but alas, it is not true. In a sense, what a relief that we cannot do everything!
I have found that during my kids' younger years (8-12 years) that sports, music and other things were not yet very serious, so the specific coach or teacher did not matter that much. But when they got older - and particularly when they started doing really well (whether in sports or music) - the value of a good coach/teacher could not be underestimated! In fact, not only is it important for doing the specific sport well, but it is for safety reasons that you cannot just accept any coach. Let me illustrate with some examples...
In ballet, there comes a time when dancing on pointe is the next major milestone to achieve. Not only is getting the correct training critical during this phase, but also fitting and buying the correct pointe shoes. The wrong pointe shoe can negatively affect not only the child’s dancing, but also foot development. So only when a teacher from a different town observed my daughter one day and made a comment on her shoes, did we realize that we had to get different shoes. This was a major turning point in her dancing career, and one which I believe would have been impossible without this very observant teacher, who was not ashamed to highlight a problem. Even though the remark felt like an insult, and my daughter was in a lot of distress afterwards, a new fitting and different pointe shoes made all the difference. Her self-esteem, dancing posture and future vision took shape after that event.
My eldest son has done gymnastics, and since he was young it was a sport he loved and enjoyed. Although his coach was a very professional woman, there was a day when a young man started coaching their group, and what a different style he had! Suddenly it was as if there was a step-change in the development of my son’s skill level, and within months he was ready for serious competitions. The funny thing was that neither the young man nor my son is very sociable. But they somehow understood one another on the gymnastic equipment and so built a relationship with a lot of mutual respect, still valued to this day.
Lastly, my youngest son, who had always loved contact sports and therefore did judo and later kickboxing, was also influenced very positively by good coaches! Not only is the coach himself a professional kickboxer (and can therefore demonstrate and fight against the students himself), but his way of working with his students is something to learn from. He makes them feel special and valued whether they win or lose. He always treats them with respect and in return, they learn respect. As a parent, I don't really know what is imparted, but I see the way my child grows in his character as a result of partaking in this sport club. I do know this much – here is proof again of the value of a good coach!
Another thing we have learnt over the years is the importance of knowing when to change to a different coach. I have found with all of my children that there comes a time, especially if they are starting to specialize in some sport or activity, when a certain coach cannot help the child continue improving the same as before; so be sensitive when that time comes and the season is over. Don’t let your child suffer simply because of too much loyalty to a specific person.
I have found with all of my children that there comes a time, especially if they are starting to specialize in some sport or activity, when a certain coach cannot help the child continue improving the same as before; so be sensitive when that time comes and the season is over.
In closing, all my children have done many different things over the years, and we have been blessed by many good people - and also some extra special people. I am specifically grateful though, for the input of those ‘few’ excellent coaches’ input into my children’s lives. Their value is forever part of my children’s make-up as future adults, and I could not have given them these qualities myself.
This article was contributed by Willemien Kruger.
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