Activity at School
Find out how much physical activity your child is getting each day at school and what sorts of activities they are doing in gym class or at recess. This will give you a better understanding of their overall level of physical activity.
Explore lessons and organized sports for your 6th grader. These might include gymnastics or ballet classes or soccer or little league. As your child grows and their physical abilities progress, they may express an interest in sports that even a year ago were too difficult for her. Expose them to as many options for physical activities and sports as possible. Community organizations like the local YMCA often offer affordable and kid-friendly yoga or Tae Kwon Do classes, for example.
Making Activity Enjoyable
If you are concerned that your 6th grader is not active enough, try to find ways to make physical activity more enjoyable for them. For example, inviting friends over to play outside might motivate her. Or suggesting that you exercise or do yoga together might spark their interest.
Walking to School
One reason that children are less physically active than in previous generations is that fewer and fewer children walk or bike to school. If doing so is a safe alternative for your child, encourage the practice.
Natural Athletic Ability
It is around this age that some children start to demonstrate natural athletic ability and inclination, while others resist physical activity and start to think of themselves as “not sporty.” Even if your child doesn’t seem to take to sports naturally, encourage them to try out different activities and to find one that suits her. Some children resist team sports but can excel at individual sports like tennis or track. Make sure you let them sample a variety of sports to find their interest, and think of non-traditional sports, like fencing or archery, that might appeal to her. Reward and encourage persistence, so that even if your child is not a “natural athlete” they learn to enjoy participating and pushing themselves to improve.
Selecting a Sport
With some children starting puberty and beginning to grow more quickly and become stronger than their peers, physical differences among children at different stages of development become more pronounced at around this age. Take this into account when selecting a sport or activity for your child and encourage them to be patient if they feel as if they aren't as strong or as fast as others. Assure them that their growth spurt is coming soon!
If your child plays a contact sport, they should wear a mouth guard to protect against dental injury and concussion.
It is important to send consistent messages about the importance of sleep. Try praising your child after a good night of sleep and avoid using an early bed time as a punishment or a late bed time as a reward.