The Essential FLL Experience

Why parents need to go to an FLL Tournament

Going to a tournament is an important part of being on an FLL team. Coaches and mentors know firsthand the benefits for the students involved. Team members get the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments, they get to meet and interact with other teams, and it’s just plain fun! But why should a parent go to a tournament? After all, for parents it can be a long day with lots of waiting around. Believe me, there are just as many reasons for a parent to go as there are for team members. Here’s a few:

Going to a tournament lets you show support for your child and their team.photo_of_parents_taking_photos
At a recent event, I talked with a 6th grade student who told me “Everything was going wrong with our robot at the competition table, but when I looked up into the audience and saw Nana up there, smiling at me, I felt so good!” By being there and supporting your student and their team, you are giving them and all their hard work the ultimate ‘thumbs up’. Regardless of how things go, just by being there and showing them your positive attitude, you’re helping to reaffirm one of the most important of FLL’s Core Values: What we learn is more important than what we win. A parent at that same event told me “Today was a culmination for all their hard work and a chance for them to show it off - how could I not be here?”

Parent_photo_tournament_articleA tournament lets you share some really important moments with your kids. One parent explained it best by saying “Watching my kid’s expressions during the day - whether it was the highs or lows - was a priceless experience. I’m so glad I was here to share this with them.” Tournaments offer parents the opportunities to see their kids ‘in action’, working as a team member and dealing with real life situations (like schedules!). “This was so important for them to be here as part of a team and learn patience with each other.” Things go wrong and things go right, and parents get to step back and take the role of observer as their children work through the day with their team members. It’s awesome to see the children using the skills and values (like Gracious Professionalism®) in a situation where they’re doing it ‘on their own’ without being guided by adults. “Watching them was mind-opening, you can see them learning to appreciate the gifts in themselves and each other.”

You get to walk away from the day feeling great! For many parents, going to a tournament is the first experience they have with FLL. At every event I’ve been to I’ve had parents come up to me and say ‘Wow! I had no idea this was so big!” Seeing the work these teams have put into their robots and projects can be Parent_downtime_tournament_articlesurprising, especially for an after-school activity. A tournament director I spoke to gave me a great quote from a parent: "It’s really cool to be here and see all this. The news is so full of the negative examples of kids these days. But seeing great kids like these, and what they’re doing, I'm not worried about where we're going in the future any more. These kids are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and we’re going to be OK!” It’s heartening to know that your child is going to be one of those leaders. So, doesn’t that make you feel good?

If your child is on an FLL team, chances are there’s a tournament coming up soon.  In my opinion, going to a tournament is equally as important for a parent as it is for a team member. After all, where else can you show support for your children’s accomplishments, share some incredible experiences with them and walk away feeling great?