What the Olympics Teaches Our Kids

BlogHer Original Post

Raise your hand if your kids are sleepy.  Mine are.  They've been staying up entirely too late watching Olympics, and who am I to stop them?  I was 12 years old when Mary Lou Retton won her gold medal, and I remember having my nose firmly glued to the TV.

The Olympics are, of course, about so much than entertainment (though they entertain well).  Discovering Dad has written a great post about the real lessons our kids learn from the Olympics, including embracing diversity, hard work is rewarded, and teamwork requires putting others before yourself:

Victory is achieved through the ability to harness collective efforts, as well as individual members knowing when to lead and when to support each other.  Kids can witness a different dimension of teamwork at the Olympics, something more easily to relate to than professional sports where everything seems to be about money, fame and getting your own sneaker line. 

Kids and families all over the globe are enjoying these summer games together.  Kathie Shoop writes of how it lights a fire under her kids:

Yes, my daughter was crafting a floor exercise by the bed while Shawn Johnson performed hers and I resisted the urge to say "Get in bed right now, lay still go to sleep…because I couldn’t stop the feeling of "Oh, yes, do your routine Bethy, create something great, fall in love with gymnastics, go ahead, there’s nothing like your first side aerial." (Meanwhile Jake takes advantage of this late night by playing STAR WARS which is not yet an Olympic event–though he gets high marks for passion).

Really, I let them stay up so they can understand that making your dreams come true can be so much bigger than American Idol.

ReadySetMom talks about how much her family enjoyed the spectacular opening ceremonies:

All the press about the Olympics in China and the opening ceremonies piqued the interest of this family. In so many ways the phase "made in China" has become derogatory, and it was very enjoyable to all sit down together in our cool basement, and watch the spectacle of the opening ceremonies on TV together Friday night. It was stunning. Like Cirque du Soleil.

Kerry of No Matter What is the mom of two daughters adopted from China.  She has used the Games as a backdrop for a themed playgroup and BBQ:

In preparation and anticipation of 8-8-08 we celebrated by having our own Playgroup Olympic Games and BBQ! It was a beautiful day full of fun, a bit of competition, and friends. We spent a little time talking to the kids about the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, what they mean and why this year will be special.

Remarkably, National Geographic is hosting a 12-year-old American boy (living in China) at their blog.  He's covering the Games from a kids' perspective.  He explains, delightfully, how many Chinese cities are getting involved:

Everyone knows that these are called the Beijing Olympics. But that's not all. Since Beijing doesn't have enough stadiums and facilities to host all the events themselves, they've enlisted the help of other cities. These cities are called the "co-host cities" The co-host cities are: Qingdao ("q" is pronounced like a "ch" in English), Hong Kong, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao.

Discovering Dad wonders if this multi-media age will allow the Olympics to capture our kids' hearts the way it captured our own:

I wonder if my kids will have the same types of memories about the Olympics as I do.  With XBox, iPod and, oh yeah, the Internet, there are a lot more distractions and entertainment options now than when I was a kid.  I’m going to do my best to expose them to the Games, though, and I can only hope that one or more of them will want to pursue a similar form of excellence in some part of their lives too.

Based on the look on my sons' faces when Phelps took his 10th gold, I'd say Olympic enthusiasm among kids is sticking around for a while.

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family).  She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.

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