The world has a lot more athletic opportunities to offer children of all genders these days, but cheerleading is still alive and well in the vast majority of schools. If your child announces her intentions to join up the next time the cheerleading squad holds tryouts, you needn’t panic. Cheerleading offers plenty of advantages (along with a few admitted drawbacks) that parents need to be aware of. Here’s a basic overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the average cheerleading experience:
On The Positive Side:
* Just like any sport, cheerleading teaches children the importance of dedication, the value of teamwork, and the practice of leadership.
* Cheerleading can focus as an extended social support network. The bonds between the members of a good squad are somewhere between close friendship and trusted family. A good coach can also be a strong mentor figure that can provide your child with valuable adult guidance in situations where you’re not available.
* Cheerleading is a demanding athletic endeavor. It will provide much-needed exercise and teach your child strong fitness habits. Learning, practicing, and perfecting cheerleading routines requires plenty of work on strength, endurance, and balance.
* Participating in cheerleading can make your child feel like a valuable part of their school’s community and make her more confident.
* Most cheerleaders thoroughly enjoy what they do. Your child will be able to demonstrate plenty of school spirit and have fun doing it.
Potential Drawbacks To Cheerleading:
* As you surely already know, there are plenty of cheerleader stereotypes floating around. Your child may have to deal with some adverse reactions from her peers when she takes up the sport.
* Cheerleading is a tremendously demanding sport when practiced properly. It will require not only plenty of your child’s time but also your own (you’ll have to prepare yourself to ferry your child to and from plenty of games outside of normal school hours).
* Time devoted to cheerleading can’t be used on studying or other extracurricular pursuits.
* There’s an economic cost to cheerleading as well. Uniforms, travel, camps, and competitions all cost money, and most schools aren’t afraid to ask you to help bear the financial burden. This can impact your child’s finances, too, as she’ll likely need to devote a significant amount of any money she makes to cheerleading expenses.
* Participating in cheer-leading may lock up your child’s schedule and make it physically impossible for her to participate in other activities. (e.g. a cheerleader can’t usually compete in sports that in season at the same time as her cheer squad.)
* Even though most people understand how physically demanding cheerleading can be, it’s not always as well-regulated as other school sports. You’ll have to oversee your child carefully to ensure that she’s in the hands of experienced and responsible coaches who understand sports safety and minimize the amount of risk your child is exposed to.
Think things over carefully when your child announces an intention to join the cheerleading squad. If you’re a former cheerleader yourself, you probably have fond memories of the sport and understand its potential benefits intimately. Cheerleading is constantly evolving, though, and you must keep the potential downsides in mind. Review the advantages and disadvantages with your child carefully before making a final decision.