By Kelly Hodgson
I played hockey growing up and I watched it on tv since we had several interested parties in my family (my mother, my brother and my Grandfather). This is the first year that my son has shown a keen interest in watching the games, knowing the teams and players and asking many questions about the sport and the NHL.
My first reaction was 'how cute' as I watched him get so excited and wake up asking to know the scores from last night's games. But the more we talked, the more I realized how many teachable moments there were in our time spent watching the hockey playoffs.
1. Math and Probabilities
We printed the NHL playoff bracket so that he could see who was advancing to the next round and write in the teams moving on. Concepts like 'best of seven', probability of winning the Stanley Cup and conversations about what teams qualified for the playoffs and why. During the games, statistics like 'Goals Against Average' (GAA) are shown on screen which lead to more conversations about why those numbers were important and what they meant.
My son knows the Canadian National Anthem but didn't know the American Anthem. This led us into a discussion about different countries and where all the teams resided in North America. And of course, we talked time zones too once I explained that some games were on too late for him to watch because they were being played in another part of the country.
Yes, there is still fighting in NHL hockey. But when asked why by my curious six year old, we talked about skills and abilities on the ice, the outcome of the fights (ie did they help the team win the game or not) and the value of treating people with kindness, on and off the ice. There are also great positive examples too – shaking hands at the end of the game, picking up another player's dropped stick even if they were on the opposing team, team mates hugging and rejoicing over victory and successes.
4. Canadian Pride
As I write this post, there are only two Canadian teams left in the playoffs but in the first round there were five. Each team was receiving tons of fan support – watching home games was so exciting! I even showed my son this great video done by the Calgary Philharmonic which I think is just awesome![video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulOM147k8aA autoplay:0]
So even if hockey is not your thing, there are lots of opportunities to use the sport and playoff season as a way to connect and discuss all kinds of things with any curious little hockey fans you may have at home. And I have to get this in….Go Flames Go!