With Arjun now at the age where he expresses preferences and desire to try things, we jumped at the chance when he decided he’d like to try football. We had tried when he was younger (about 1.5) but often found the lessons were unproductive as he lost interest midway through the lesson and also perhaps he just wasn’t ready.
We were recommended Sport4Kids by a few of our friends and decided to give it a go. They offer several types of sporting activity not only football which is brilliant if Arjun decides he’d like to also take up another activity. There are 15 venues in the area and over 70 classes to choose from including football, rugby, dance and cricket.
We attend the classes at the Langley branch with coach Karun, coach Raj and coach Dan who are sometimes joined by a junior coach. The thing I love most about the classes and the coaches is their passion and enthusiasm never seems to be running on a low tank! Their love for what they do really shines through.
The classes are structured predominantly by age – 18 months – 3 years, 3 – 5 years, 5 – 7 years and then up to 14 years in the academy where the children get to participate in the Sport4Kids tournament in their own team, the Langley Lions, in external leagues. There is a focus on progress and ability over the child’s age, therefore age is not a barrier to progression – classes are based on development. Each child has their own record book where progress is monitored and once they have achieved 80% of a particular level, they are awarded a certificate and are promoted to the next level.
As opposed to being a free play session, the lessons are structured and based upon a comprehensive curriculum for each sport. The classes have a set structure – parents get to do some free play at the start, then there is The Welcome Name Game, there is then a pulse raiser to get the children active quickly as a warm up, then a fun section where the kids get to practice counting and doing funny actions, this is followed by a technical section where the children learn a new skill, they then put it into action in an exercise and they finish the session with a game or scoring goals or tries and practice their celebrations!
The personal feel to each session is really nice – each coach knows the name of all the children present and they celebrate achievements with so much enthusiasm. They are so gentle with the children and help those that may struggle with a particular skill with so much patience. With the supportive approach they also adopt a disciplinary approach. For me, what differentiates this school from the others is the passion and love shown by the coaches – in turn it has a knock on effect on the children’s performance and love for the sport and desire to acquire a new skill. Their vibrant personalities are by no means a fluke, Sport4Kids coaches are carefully selected for their fun personalities and entertainment genes to keep the children involved and engaged all the time. All coaches receive a comprehensive 16 week training program to qualify and this includes the Sport4Kids University and in venue shadowing where they get to follow the senior coaches and feel part of the party atmosphere. The time and effort required in becoming a coach means that only dedicated and passionate ones exist!
“The Sport4Kids Way” takes world class technical skills from each sport and breaks them down into pillars to forma comprehensive curriculum. Each skills or technical movement is broken down further into mini and micro movements so they can identify the fundamental moor movements.
The Sport4Kids Way is to adopt some of the Montessori and child psychology and development techniques so that they provide the children with fun and games which teach them these mini motor skills. This is done as part of a story and through analogous learning techniques where children have fun and build up core muscle memory that helps them develop naturally. Having fun and engaging children builds their enjoyment and passion for sport whilst they learn the technical stuff. Children love mastering skills and this in turn builds confidence and progression. I love how the coaches think of creative ways to make the lessons fun and engaging for example using a football net as a fishing net and pretending the football is Nemo and asking the kids to “flick” (skill of the month) Nemo in to the net. Being fun and creative means children are more likely to stay engaged and will be learning without even realising it! 😉 I have already seen this in Arjun after 4 sessions.
Each child has their own record book which we call the Practice@Home Book. This has all the skills for a particular age group and grades their levels of achievement as they progress. Parents can see what their child is doing and helps them develop their own knowledge to help the child develop at home. Parents are involved as they teach the parents about Practicing@Home and helping their child develop their skills, confidence and passion for fun filled sport. After Arjun’s first lesson, he asked his daddy if they could buy a football and cones to practice in the garden – the energy in the sessions has definitely fuelled his desire to want to learn further.
Sport4Kids is a club so later when the kids get to be part of the Sport4Kids Teams parents can help manage the teams and are provided with comprehensive training and support all the way through. There is very much a family and friendly atmosphere.
When joining, you also receive a football kit – Arjun refuses to go to football without it on! I also often pair it with football leg warmers in the cooler months from Baby Brain Apparel.
Arj absolutely loves his football sessions and frequently practices what he’s learnt at home. He has come a long way in terms of confidence and skill and we look forward to watching him grow further!
Disclosure: This is a partnership post however all views expressed above are my own.