Oct 11, 2009

Do's and Don'ts

A few years ago I attended a lecture by Dr. Gloria Balague (pronounced Ba-la- whay), a Clinical and Sports Psychologist with U.S. Olympic Gymnastics, U.S. Olympic Track and Field and a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Balague spoke about different learning styles, age-appropriate teaching and coaching self-confidence. According to Dr. Balague, figure skating instruction helps develop not only skating skills in a child, but also cognitive and emotional skills, including “learning how to learn,” dealing with competition, external and internal motivation and confidence building.

Using a technical metaphor, she spoke of each child’s “hardware” and “software.” She defined hardware as natural talent and motivation. Software, a more complex concept, was defined as “affective knowledge,” meaning a child’s knowledge/learning of movement and her/his understanding of how to move his/her body through space. In other words, the child’s own self-knowledge of how to affect his own movement, and his ability to ask “what can I learn?”

Dr. Balague also presented some brief suggestions for "Do's" and "Don'ts" for parents and coaches. Here are the ones for the littlest learners, toddler through kindergarten. I'll post the other ages in additional posts.

• Set limits
• Be considerate
• Allow child to explore
• Play with your child
• Show Excitement

• Keep it fun and simple
• Short duration
• Show enthusiasm

• Be punitive
• Let the child rule
• Limit participation to a single sport
• Shame your child
• Use guilt to make your child behave

• Focus on competition
• Drill only a few skills
• Expect full attention at all times

What do you think your role as a parent should be? What do you think you do well? What have you seen a coach do well? Let me know in the comments.

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