The Olympics

The Olympics are in full swing! In our home this means that if the television is on we are watching the Olympics. Bedtimes have been extended so that we can all cheer for the American favorites that dominate their sport or the underdog that has all the odds stacked against them but just may pull off the race of their lives. The athletes are larger than life and have mastered their craft but when you hear their back stories it makes them all human again. It makes watching them race all that more exciting, powerful and even emotional. You feel a connection whether it is their story that resonates with you, the country they are representing is part of your heritage or because you played that sport once upon a time and all of your senses start to tingle as if it were yesterday when you watch them play.

I equally adore how children perk up during the Olympics. Their dreams become grander and their hearts swell imagining themselves competing in the games like the athletes they are cheering on. I see this in children who are sports lovers and in children who have never played a sport in their life. In my home I apparently have future Olympians in swimming, equestrian, shooting or track and field…who knew? J There is an energy transmitted from the Olympics that is tangible. Children believe in themselves a little more and are willing to give the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to be an Olympian. It is on! They are going to be in the Olympics one day and nothing will squash those dreams.  The people around them are more encouraging and supportive because after all, the Olympians that have them hanging on every meet, race, set or game were once children with big dreams too.

The energy and excitement continues with my family and their interest in the world. We often here “it is a small world” however our world is also quite vast with so much to learn and offer. Do you find your family more interested in the world during the Olympics? I feel like I am on overload with questions about the history of nations, where are the countries they never heard of located, how do the other athletes train, why do athletes from other countries train in the United States, what kind of food is from Brazil and can we make some, what are all the languages being spoken at the Olympics and how does everyone understand each other? The list is endless and I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!! If your family is not diving a little deeper (yes, pun intended) with the Olympics, I really encourage you to explore with them. The knowledge, conversations, observations and interest will explode and I guarantee you will be just as engaged and learn a lot, too.

The Olympics and its coverage have also brought an interesting perspective out of my 11-year-old. He commented that since the Olympics started we aren’t hearing about all the bad things that are happening around the world (my 9-year-old noted…other than politics). The world appears to be united and in harmony. He makes a good point, doesn’t he? He knows all the “bad” has not gone away and is still happening, but was able to see that it suddenly was not the focus. What he is seeing is that we are cheering each other on and supporting all nations. All of the athletes’ efforts, whether they come in first or last, are celebrated because they made it to the Olympics and that is a big deal. Everyone is proud of their country. He is not seeing poor sports. Instead he sees athletes of every color, nationality and ability shaking hands, hugging, crying, congratulating and consoling one another. He sees the stands mixed with people who are all getting along cheering together, crying together, hugging strangers and sometimes being disappointed together. All of my children have been inspired by the advertising for the Paralympics and cannot wait to watch (which are September 7-18th by the way). They are seeing what our focus as a nation and world should be every day, not just during the Olympics. How many of you noticed the difference?

The Olympic experience for everyone is different and at the core of things isn’t that what the Olympics is all about? We want to know everyone’s journey to becoming an Olympian and the support that helped them along the way. We look forward to the stories and the connections and we crave the accompanying emotions. It is a chance to learn a little more about the world and a moment for the world to come together. It is a place where dreams come true but also when dreams are born. The Olympics are also a time to connect with your family, community and country.

Taralee is an educator, advocate, philanthropist and a published author.

She has passionately contributed to the fields of special education and early childhood education since 1998, meeting her student’s and client’s needs in the home, school and community. She excels at recognizing each child’s unique gift and successfully ignites their love of learning through exploration, discovery and play. It is through this work that "Inspired Education" was born. As a philanthropist, Taralee served as the President and member of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Regional New Jersey Early Intervention Collaborative for 8 years.

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