How to keep Chicago kids active and athletic during winter

It can seem harder to keep kids in Chicago up and active in sports and other movement and fitness activities during the long, cold winter months. There are still good options to keep them active and moving though, a number of them offered through local YMCA branches. The Y aims to strengthen kids’ character, build skills, learn about teamwork, and focus on sportsmanship.

Here are a few possibilities available through the YMCA to keep your preschooler active in the winter:

  1. YMCA Sports

    Local YMCAs offer a variety of activities and sports teams to keep your little ones active and busy. They can get involved in Flag Football and Outdoor Soccer from ages 3-12, Basketball from ages 3-14, Youth Tennis from Ages 5-10, Dodgeball from ages 5-12, Baseball and Softball once they’re in Grades 1-8 and Volleyball from grades 2-8.

    Even if you’ve already missed the deadline for one sport or session, there are more 5-week sport sessions
    yet to come this winter season for the little ones, ages 3-5, to learn the fundamentals and basic skills of each sport.

    Here is a sampling from this year’s offerings:

    • January 22-February 19 – Soccer
    • February 26-March 26 – Basketball
    • April 9-May 7 – T Ball
  2. YMCA Swimming

    For kids in Chicago aged 6 months-3 years, there are Parent/Child lessons at the Y that can get little ones swimming like fish in the water. Together, you will first be introduced to basic skills, including safely working with your child in water and how to encourage them to participate fully while learning new skills. Your child will begin building the foundation to learn how to swim before moving to the next level, which will involve learning more ways to enter/exit the water safely, glide on the front and back with assistance and changing body positions in the water.

    Kids who are more independent at 2-3 years old can take the Early Preschool Lessons, where they can break away from the parent/child lessons, without quite having to be ready for the Preschool Level lessons.

    Those who are 3-5 years old will be in the Preschool Lessons, wherein they will first become familiar with an aquatics environment – getting basic skills, developing a positive attitude and being safe in and around the water. Then in the next level they will focus on independent locomotion skills – exploring simultaneous and alternating arm and leg actions to prepare for learning how to do actual swim strokes, before going to the next level where they start doing the skills and arm and leg actions on their own.

    Additionally, private lessons are offered for kids of all skill levels once they are 3 years and older, which are good for kids who prefer or require more one-on-one time.

  3. YMCA Gymnastics

    For kids in Chicago who are 2-3 years old and want to try gymnastics, they can be enrolled into the YMCA’s Tumble Tikes program. With a socialized focus on both large and small motor skills, rhythmic movement, body awareness and repetition are the what it’s all about in these half hour-long parent-guided classes.

    Those who are 4-5 years old will be Tumble Tots, in up to two 45-min classes per week. These classes put an emphasis on confidence, following directions and taking turns, listening and cooperating while using bars, beams, trampolines and carious mats, the kids start independently exploring beginning tumbling skills such as jumping, balancing and rolling.

  4. YMCA Birthday Parties

    Birthday parties are also a good time to get some physical activity in at the Y. You can get party packages that have more than just birthday cake – but also your choice of swimming, gymnastics or gym time, as well.

    There are other options to keep kids in Chicago active and sporty even in the winter months that we will cover later, but the YMCA is always a tried and true place to get them started and keep them going.

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