Project Play Checklists: 10 Questions for Parents

We all want sports to be a great experience for kids. If you’re a parent or caregiver, you want it that much more. Because once you have a child, your favorite athlete is no longer someone you watch on TV — it’s the budding athlete down the hall, the one you’re raising.

These Parent Checklists are for you. They distill the ideas embodied in the Aspen Institute’s seminal report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, into simple 10-point checklists that can be read at a glance. They include questions you can ask your child, yourself, and local programs when considering how to build an athlete for life.

You have three choices, tailored to the age and activity level of your child:

Click here if your child is ages 0-5

Click here if your child is ages 6-12 and not  playing sports

Click here if your child is ages 6-12 and they are playing sports

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program thanks Target for supporting the development of the Parent Checklists

Additional input for the checklists was provided by an array of experts within the Project Play network, including leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan State’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, USA Hockey, US Lacrosse, University of Minnesota, Playworks, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, SHAPE America, and Whole Child Sports.


Checklist for kids ages 0-5

Position statements on sports and physical activity can be found at the American Academy of Pediatrics website

Active Start: Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children Birth to Five Years, 2nd Edition, SHAPE America.

A free, community-generated guide to parks and playgrounds, created by Kaboom! and searchable by zip code can be found here

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland, by Timothy Walker, The Atlantic, Oct. 1, 2015

American Development Model framework, U.S. Olympic Committee

Checklist for kids 6-12 not playing sports

Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Influence of Parents’ Physical Activity Levels on Activity Levels of Young Children, Journal of Pediatrics, 118[2}; 215-219, 1991

Media Use in School-Age Children and Adolescents, Pediatrics, Oct. 2016

Evaluating Approaches to Physical Literacy Through the Lens of Positive Youth Development, by Veronica Allen, Jennifer Turnidge & Jean Cote, May 2017

CDC, SHAPE America, and other national organizations recommend giving elementary school students at least 20 minutes of recess daily and providing middle and high school students with a period of daily physical activity in addition to physical education and classroom physical activity. See CDC’s strategies for recess in schools (Jan. 2017)

SHAPE America, the American Heart Association, and a number of other national health organizations recommend that schools provide 150 minutes per week of instructional physical education for elementary school children, and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students throughout the school year. Read here.

Checklist for kids 6-12 who are playing sports

What Does the Science Say about Athletic Development in Children? Gainesville, FL: University of Florida’s Sport Policy & Research Collaborative, 2013.

Kid-Focused, Coach-Driven: What Training is Needed? Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, 2013.

Physical Literacy in the United States: A Model, Strategic Plan, and Call to Action, Aspen Institute Sports & Society program, 2015.