The start of the 2010 Winter Olympics is near. This is a great time to get your young champions excited about what the Olympics represent, and use it for an educational resource — for the whole family.

1. First, make sure both you and your child can find Vancouver, Canada on a map. Get a world map. Don’t end up as a statistic in one of those polls about how many people can’t put their finger on a major country when presented with an atlas.

2. Olympic season is a great time to get children excited about outdoor activities — if they’re not already. And if you didn’t get on the ball with your New Year’s resolution to get fit, it’s also the perfect time for you. Use the days during the Olympics to start an exercise routine, and commit to stick with the habit after the closing ceremonies.

3. Athletes typically have short interviews with reporters following a competition. Take note of how many from countries other than the United States speak English, in addition to their native language. Studying another language, even a little, is worthwhile. Pick a language and learn a few common words and phrases together.

4. Pick an obscure country represented in this year’s Olympics and learn about its culture, its people, and its geography.

5. For parents of middle school or high school students, read the recent PARADE article with your child about the financial battles between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) going on behind the scenes, and discuss it with your child. It sounds like a winning research or opinion paper for that high school current events class. They may as well learn now about the effects of money and politics.

  • How will this year’s fight affect the Olympics in years to come?
  • Should the U.S. provide government funding for the United States Olympic Committee, as other countries reportedly do?
  • How does it affect “lesser-known” sports that they don’t receive the same amount of money as more popular, money-making sports?
  • What kinds of solutions or compromises would you suggest for the IOC and the USOC?
  • Research the Paralympics. When did it begin? How many athletes are involved?

Olympic Activities and Resources (for younger children):

Host a Backyard Olympics Festival

Olympic Games for Kids Activities and Printables

Olympic Crafts for Kids

Education World Lesson Plans (that parents can also do at home)