Health Watch -- Activities for Kids

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As the school year draws to a close and you're planning your kids' summer activities, experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you should consider organized sports for a number of reasons.

One reason is safety. Dr. Karl Rathjen, a UT Southwestern orthopaedic surgeon, says that children are far more likely to be injured on playgrounds or in swimming pools than when they're participating in organized sports. Organized leagues usually require players to use protective gear, and there is constant adult supervision from coaches. That limits the chances for horseplay or improper techniques that could lead to injury. Organized teams put children of the same age or size together, which also minimizes injury risks.

Team sports provide psychological and developmental benefits, as well. Dr. Thomas Van Hoose, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, says that team sports teach children valuable social skills such as teamwork and taking direction from adults other than their parents. Meanwhile, sports keep kids off the couch and away from television.

When looking at activities for your children, try to find a team that's inclusive and that focuses on participation rather than competition. Meanwhile, be sure to allow some free, unstructured time for kids, too.