9 Steps to Getting Kids With Learning and Attention Issues Involved in Sports

By Erica Patino

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Getting your child involved in sports may take a little detective work on your part, as well as some honest discussions with your child. Here are nine practical steps to take.


Consider your child’s skills and interests.

Which sports interest your child? Ask a gym teacher, relative or someone else who knows a lot about youth sports to suggest options that might be a good fit for your child.


Think about time.

Some sports involve a bigger time commitment than others. Factor in homework and other activities to help decide how much sports time your child can handle each week.


Check out options.

Ask the gym teacher and other parents which sports programs they recommend. And try to look for coaches who have experience working with kids with learning and attention issues.


Visit the playing field.

Before the first practice or tryout, walk around the playing field or facility with your child. Show her where the bathroom is and discuss other logistical details that can make her feel less anxious.


Prepare for tryouts.

If your child needs to try out for a team, help her find out what to expect. Urge her to seek advice from kids who have tried out for the team. Help her practice important skills.


Go over the schedule.

Make sure your child understands she’s expected to attend each practice and be on time. Find out what kind of equipment she needs. Help her learn the sports vocabulary so she can follow along.


Talk to the coach.

Tell the coach about your child’s learning and attention issues before the season starts. Explain how those issues may affect her behavior and performance.


Help your child set realistic goals.

Work with the coach to help your child focus on certain skills. Be specific when praising your child for making progress in those areas. Offer to help her practice at home.


Assess after the season.

When the season is over, discuss the experience with your child. What worked and what would she do differently? Does she want to play again or try something different?

About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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