I love sports. My kids, ages 9 and 6, don’t necessarily share my passion. Football, basketball, golf, baseball … I love a good sports competition. The Month of March is home to one of the most important college sporting events of the year: the NCAA basketball tournament. This year the tournament begins on March 16 and there are ways to make this time fun for the whole family!
For those unfamiliar with how this works, 64 teams play against each other in a single-elimination competition. Every day there are new rounds of competition and they eventually narrow the field down to two teams, playing for the NCAA championship. It’s an oversimplification but it’s basketball: a whole bunch college athletes, aggressively running up and down the court trying to put the orange ball in the opposing team’s basket.
Below are a few ways for your family have a fun experience and learn about the thrill of victory and the bitter taste of defeat
1. Beginning March 13, the teams are set. Print out a bracket for each person in your family. Kids tend to choose completely by random. Whether they like the team colors or the team names. It’s a fun way to help gets kids interested in the idea of college by introducing them to teams mascots. Wildcats or Bulldogs? Let your little pet-lover decide who is going to come out on top.
2. Once games are played, have your kids highlight who won the games. For younger ones they can practice how many they got correct by simply counting the highlighted teams.
3. For older kids, you can talk about the percentage they guessed correctly for a round. Or, for the more advanced, you can talk about probability and statistics (like why a 12 seed always beats a 5 seed). The NCAA tournament is a great way to incorporate math into real life lessons.
4. Perhaps engage in friendly wagers within the households. If the kids guess more correctly than the parents, they get out of doing some chores. If the parents win, the kids have to pick up the slack. It allows siblings to work together for a common goal: defeat the adult.
5. Don’t forget the human aspect. Some of the young men playing in the NCAA tournament have overcome great adversity or have background stories that pull at the heart strings. Share those stories with the kids. Hearing a story about perseverance and determination to achieve a goal helps build character and integrity.
March Madness is most closely associated with staying up late, office pools and buzzer beating upsets. But, there are some great ways to incorporate kids, math and important life skills in this exciting time of year … not only for moms that love sports, but for all kids.