Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Term 3 has begun!

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Term 3 has started and its already 2 lessons down as of today. 

There will be 2 breaks during this term due to Hari Raya Puasa (this weekend, 18th & 19th July) and National Day (8th & 9th August).

Don't forget you can register for a trial class any time during the term and find out more about our multi-sports approach to developing motor skills! Your child can learn the fundamental movement skills in a structured, safe and fun manner. If you do sign-up, you only pay for the number of lessons remaining - so term fees are pro-rated accordingly.




Some more details about Term 3:
- 10 week / lesson term
- Last class of Term 3 is on Sunday, 20th September
- We will be teaching Football (Soccer), Basketball, Golf, Cricket and Athletics
- Classes at 3 locations (Bukit Timah, Kallang, Kovan)
- Find out more at our website
- You can also email us at info@readysteadygokids.com.sg or sms/call us at 9855-8221

Hope to hear from you soon!

Monday, 8 June 2015

What I have learnt from coaching at Ready Steady Go Kids

by Teacher Z, a former part-time trainer who worked with us from January 2013 to June 2014


I never thought it would be that hard. When I did my interview and the initial training, I was thinking that these people (the boss and the full-time trainers) were a little too self-absorbed into thinking there was so much to teaching young kids some sports. I am an athlete, a floorball player for Uni and also ran track in my secondary school days. And I am GREAT with kids! No issue then. :) 

Imagine my horror when I first started my On-the-Job Training (OJT) and I felt totally inept. Things were moving so fast and all the things I learnt before went out of my head. Luckily, this was an OJT, so I had time to adapt and pick things up as a 3rd trainer.

Fast forward 6 months later, and I was running a Tuesday morning class every week - 6 classes of active kids back-to-back, 30 minutes per class. By then I had figured out how to manage the kids while teaching them sports and motor skills. I can't imagine having come to this stage without the patience and guidance of The Chief, Head Trainer and everyone in the company. This was by far the best part-time environment that I have ever worked at.



So looking back and thinking a bit out loud about what I have learnt during my time with RSGK Singapore, I must say these are the Top 3.

1) Kids have lots of energy! And we have to put in effort to keep up with them. Capture their imagination and engage their minds even while we are teaching them a physical activity / sport. But the reward from having them learn, improve and bond with you is worth all the extra sweat I worked up during my time.

2) Kids should play! And make mistakes, and learn, and practice and eventually have success. It sounds so simple but this was something I was taught and grew to understand during my 1.5 years with Ready Steady Go Kids. I even started doing a bit of reading on this and this is one that is quite interesting so I would like to share it:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/staying_fit/active_preschooler.html

3) That I really like kids and working with them! This is really a revelation on different levels for me. What I knew and thought I knew before was just the tip of the iceberg but getting to know more has helped me like them even more. Sure, there were kids who were difficult to deal with but seeing things from their perspective, it was more about them trying to learn and adapt and not about them being evil!



And so there it is... what did I learn from coaching at Ready Steady Go Kids? I learnt so much and have more to give now than before.

Thank you to RSGK Singapore for giving me the opportunity and for teaching me (all of you!).


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

June and Summer holiday camps

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

The June and Summer holidays are coming... and if you have not started planning some activities for your children, well now is the time to do so!

We have rolled out a new concept for this year's holiday camp... we are inviting you to CREATE-YOUR-OWN. Basically, you gather a minimum of 6 children aged between 4 to 9 (including your own of course) and then create your own from a menu / option of how many days, which venue, which sports, etc. Give us 4 weeks and voila, your SPORTS HOLIDAY CAMP will be served...


Here's a list of your menu choices:
- You choose from a 3-day, 4-day or 5-day camp
- You can choose which dates you want in June, July or August
- You can choose the start time (8.30am, 9.00am or 9.30am)
- You can choose which sport you want every day (1 sport per day)
- You can choose between Kovan Sports Centre or The Cage Sports Park in Bukit Timah
- The camp will be for 3 hours and is open to children aged 4 to 9 years old

For a 3-day camp, for the first 6 children, each child will pay $250 each. 7th and subsequent children (up to a max of 12) will pay $100 each. 

Sounds exciting? If so, go gather the kids (speak to those in his class at kindergarten / pre-school and like-minded friends who have kids around the same age) and contact us soon. As always, you can email us via info@readysteadygokids.com.sg or call us at 9855-8221 and ask for the menu - we will email it to you as soon as we can.

Hear from you soon!


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A physiotherapist's view on the benefits of the Ready Steady Go Kids programme

This article has been taken with permission from Ready Steady Go Kids Head Office in Australia - it first appeared on their website on 10th December 2014. Photos have been added to enhance the delivery of the message.




Ready Steady Go Kids is a multi-sport program for children 2.5 – 6 years of age and at the very least teaches children the fundamentals of 10 different sports. Further to this, the program certainly enhances other important school readiness skills such as group participation, turn taking, listening to instructions, letter, colour and number recognition. However, from the perspective of a paediatric physiotherapist, acutely aware of the complex nature of gross motor development and the sequence of skills our children progress through in the preschool years, this program has the potential to offer so much in the development, refinement and enhancement of gross motor skills in both typically developing children as well as those children who have delays or disorders of their movement.  

As a physiotherapist, much of my work involved the management of children with DCD (Developmental Co-ordination Disorder), Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism. This program can offer benefits to many of these children. There is so much to be gained from introducing them to the program and allowing them the opportunity to attempt and master important skills that will be crucial when they transition to school at 5 or 6 years of age. First and foremost, for them to be able to participate in a mainstream program is a huge milestone for many of them. Further to this, the information to follow aims to highlight the aspects of our program that are of huge benefit when considering the deficits in gross motor function that these children often present with. Remember though, that this program is just as fulfilling for the typically developing child. All the activities serve to benefit them and provide opportunities for them to refine and extend their skills in a fun and safe environment.


Hand-eye co-ordination

Hand-eye co-ordination is such an important part of a child’s development and is so much more than just being able to catch and throw a ball. This part of development involves the child’s ability to effectively co-ordinate eye movement with hand (or foot) movement. As with many areas of development, hand-eye co-ordination starts very early on in development and we can start to see it in action when our little baby at 3 or 4 months of age starts to reach out and swipe for toys - eventually being able to grasp them with more and more precision as this skill becomes more refined.

Proficiency in this area is certainly vital in the development of sporting skills and a necessity when considering participation on any sporting team. Interestingly, hand-eye co-ordination is also necessary for other tasks such as hand-writing, reading and tying shoe laces. This is why such an emphasis is placed on developing hand-eye co-ordination in the early years.   

When looking at our program, we provide children with opportunities to develop their hand/foot eye co-ordination in every single class.  Importantly, we progress skills quite purposefully so that the children can build on their skills session by session, term by term and year by year.  

In soccer we start very simply with a standing kick, then progress to a running kick, dribbling a ball and then trapping a moving ball.  As the child progresses, we can make tasks more difficult according to the skills.  We ask them to trap a faster moving ball, dribble whilst weaving through cones or kick a moving ball rather than kicking a stationary ball. 

Similarly in football, we progress from kicking a stationary ball to trying a drop kick in the older classes. We encourage more complicated skills in sports such as tennis where the kids attempt to throw and catch their tennis ball, then they start to volley the ball.  We start with simple tasks to ensure they can achieve these before extending them to more difficult tasks like the forehand shot.  




Children are constantly encouraged to watch the ball in golf and tennis, to look down at their puck when playing hockey. Throwing and catching skills in basketball are practiced in a fun a stimulating fashion and the children are encouraged to extend their skills appropriately. Some children stay with a drop and catch where others move on to dribbling the ball. The fielding activities in cricket and T-ball where the children have to track the ball coming toward them are equally effective. As they get older we roll the ball faster, roll it slightly out of their reach and encourage them to move toward the ball.  

A great way to start a session of golf, cricket, tennis or T-ball is to give each child their bucket and then roll the balls to them one at a time so they fill their bucket with their 5 balls, ready to start their class.  This is a good way of introducing the task of tracking the ball with their eyes at the start of the session. 

For those children with delays in their skills, hand-eye co-ordination is often affected, and quite often it is their lack of attention to a task that impedes the development of this skill.  Creating fun and varied activities will keep them interested and help to develop this important skill for these children. 

Balance and postural control

Postural Control may be defined as the act of maintaining, achieving or restoring a state of balance during posture or activity (Pollock et al. 2000).  You will find the terms balance and postural control often used interchangeably. 
Balance is a fundamental skill crucial to the effective development of gross and fine motor skills in our children. Learning to balance starts very early and we can see it in a little baby as he or she learns to roll, play on their tummy, sit up, crawl, pull to stand and ultimately to walk independently. And it obviously doesn't stop there, we can keep working on and improving our balance well into adulthood.  




There are many advantages to good balance skills.  Importantly, a child who can learn to balance effectively will spend less energy keeping themselves stable, and more energy learning any new skill they are trying to achieve.  For example, when learning to kick a ball, the child who has good balance skills will have more available energy to focus on developing a good technique and the necessary foot-eye co-ordination to kick the ball effectively.  The child who struggles to maintain their balance will consume much more energy just trying to maintain a stable body position in order to kick the ball and will therefore have less energy left to learn the skill.  The same can be said for hitting a cricket or tennis ball, throwing and catching a basketball or jumping over the hurdles. This is why creating opportunities to improve balance through every session is so important.
Many of the activities that are included in the manual are great for helping to develop the children’s balance or postural control.  Simple freeze games in some of the motor activities where they have to stop and balance in a certain position are great for improving balance.  The dice game provides loads of opportunity to encourage single limb balance or other tricky positions such as a bridge, or a bridge using only one arm, or a bridge using only one leg. etc… The balance beams can be used in a variety of ways – going forwards or sideways – or just maintaining balance whilst standing on the beam for a few seconds during the circuit before jumping or stepping down.  There are so many ways we can challenge their balance – and the better their balance becomes then the better their sport specific skills will become. 

It is well documented that children presenting with developmental disorders including DCD; Down Syndrome; CP; Autism and developmental delay will have impaired postural control or balance to varying degrees and therefore will certainly benefit from the many balance activities that the manual presents.  

Ensure each class provides opportunity to adjust postures and focus on maintaining stable body positions.  You will find that many children just like to keep moving and often this is because it is far easier for them to be moving rather than having to maintain a stable position against gravity.  So, even though we like to focus on lots of high-energy games and activities, be sure to include some important stationary activities where the children are encourage to hold certain body positions.

Motor Planning

This is a complex part of development and for a child with typical development it is something that comes very naturally.  Very broadly, motor planning may be defined as the ability to order, plan, sequence and execute a series of intentional motor actions.
Some children who participate in our program will pick up certain skills very quickly.  They will only need to be shown a few times how to hold the bat, after that they do it the right way every single time.  Others struggle with this.  It takes a long time for them to learn the correct grip and they need to be shown multiple times before they are comfortable with it.  

Similarly, tasks such as weaving in and out of cones, jumping the hurdles or bear walking may look awkward and clumsy in some children.  These may be the children with motor planning difficulties.  These children struggle the most with new activities and will respond very well to repetition, short, simple, repetitious commands and strong visual cues.   Our program caters brilliantly for these children.  When coaches are effective in using very short, direct instructions that are kept the same each week as much as possible, the children will respond well.  The catch cry of  “Ready Steady Go” prior to each skill is an essential cue and provides a little extra time to process, plan and execute a movement correctly.  




Additionally, for these children, visual cues are essential to assist them, as often the verbal cue and visual demonstration aren’t quite enough to enable them to succeed.  Therefore, the use of spots to stand on, foot prints to help orientate the body correctly (particularly for cricket, golf, T-ball, tennis and hockey) and the sharply contrasting colours on the equipment all provide really important extra visual cues in order that they can execute the skills more effectively.  

Wherever possible, the use of tape or stickers to guide more accurate hand placement will also be a huge help to these children and enhance their participation in the activities. In the circuit, use foot prints to guide their path around cones, try to break down the hurdle movement and give them very repetitious verbal cues for each hurdle eg. Step, step, over, step step, over. These are often the children I take by the hand and give them the feel of the activity several times and then gradually allow them to progress to doing it more independently. 


Encouraging Physical Activity
We mustn’t forget that one of our biggest goals is to promote physical activity in the preschool years to promote a lifelong love of sport. We all know this is essential for our children as it will lay down such important foundations in terms of their attitude and their ability to perform in sporting activities.




A paper written by Skouteris et al in 2012 focused on Physical activity guidelines for pre-schoolers.  They completed an extensive review of current literature to determine the current physical activity guidelines for preschool aged children around the world.   They found significant gaps in the literature and definite inconsistencies in the amount of physical activity deemed sufficient for this age group.  Whilst the paper provided a detailed summary of global recommendations, it acknowledged that further study needs to be done in this area in older that public health policies may be created and implemented by government agencies. 
Importantly for us however, the paper cites several articles which highlight the importance of creating healthy eating and activity behaviour in the early years and that preventative strategies should be introduced as early as possible in life to ensure that children are given the best possible opportunity to develop healthy lifestyle behaviours which they will carry into childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  Ready Steady Go Kids provides a fantastic, comprehensive program, which engages children in physical activity during their early years thus helping to build their skills in order that they are ready and able to participate in sports as they enter school and beyond. 

This is equally important for our children with developmental delays or disorders of their movement.  There is growing concern that these children are at risk of reduced physical activity, often because they don’t have the opportunities in the preschool years to develop skills important for participation in sports.  RSGK gives them opportunities to discover and develop skills they may never have realised they had which may well lead them to engaging in school or community sports or even becoming involved in sports for people with a disability.  How incredible to be a part of that journey for these children.   

Contributed by Anne Kelly, physiotherapist and franchise owner in Narellan Region Australia.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Term 2 special offer - only for this weekend (11th & 12th April)

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Term 2 has just started and we would like to get you moving to enrol your child with us this term. So we are having a VERY special offer, only happening once this term and its... THIS WEEKEND!


Venue: The Cage Sports Park (past Pasarbella, The Grandstand and the Paint Ball Park)
Saturday and Sunday AM


Venue: The Cage Kallang (near McDonalds / KFC at the National Stadium area)
Saturday and Sunday PM

Venue: Kovan Sports Centre
Saturday AM and Sunday PM

More details at our website - head on over to check out the available classes.


So join us for a trial lesson this weekend (do register with us first) and if you are keen to sign up, we will give you a $20 voucher that can be used to offset Term 3 fees or give it to a friend who can use it to offset the trial lesson fee.

Remember to email us at info@readysteadygokids.com.sg or call/sms us at 9855-8221 to reserve a slot at your preferred class and location. Please let us have your name, mobile/email address and your child's name & date-of-birth and we will send you an email to confirm your slot in the trial.

Hurry, don't wait - contact us now and your child will soon be having lots of fun learning the basics of a variety of sports and developing their motor skills.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Term 2 2015 starting in end March

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Term 1 is about to end.... last class will be on Sunday, 22nd March. But fret not, Term 2 starts the following weekend!

Now's the best time to join us for a trial class and find out more about our multi-sports approach to developing motor skills! Your child can learn the fundamental movement skills in a structured, safe and fun manner. 

Some more details about Term 2:
- 10 week / lesson term
- Last class in Term 2 is on Sunday, 31st May
- We will be teaching Football (Soccer), Tennis, Hockey, AFL/Rugby and T-ball
- Classes at 3 locations (Bukit Timah, Kallang, Kovan)
- Find out more at our website
- You can also email us at info@readysteadygokids.com.sg or sms/call us at 9855-8221

Hope to hear from you soon!



Saturday, 28 February 2015

Want your kids to get into Harvard? Tell 'em to go outside!

by Richard Louv, the author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature NetworkThis article first appeared on Children & Nature Network and has been reproduced with permission. 


September is back-to-school month, and the chanting begins: Drill, test, lengthen the school day, skip recess, cancel field trips, and by all means discourage free time for (gasp!) self-directed play.
Is that approach working, particularly in science learning? Not so much.



A while back, I met with a dozen biology professors at North Carolina Central University. They were deeply concerned about the dramatic deterioration of student knowledge of what’s out there: these students can tell you all about the Amazon rain forest, but nothing about the plants and animals of the neighborhoods in which they live.

When researching Last Child in the Woods, I heard a similar complaint from Paul Dayton, a prominent oceanographer and professor in the Scripps Marine Life Research Group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.
Dayton is a harsh critic of a trend in higher education, the movement away from traditional biology toward the kind of molecular sciences and bioengineering that can produce products in the lab that can be patented by research universities.
The ethical issues of that process concern him, but what worries him even more is the growing ignorance of nature that he sees in young people.

DF 4
“In a few years there will be nobody left to identify several major groups of marine organisms,” he said. “I wish I were exaggerating.”
During a later visit with Dayton, we were looking out of his window at the famous Scripps Pier. I asked him if he had ever thought to engaging a nearby high school. Maybe Scripps could bring the students from that school to the pier or even out on the Scripps explorer ships.

“I tried that.” He said one school administrator’s response was, “Oh, no, we’ve become so sophisticated in the teaching of science, that our students don’t have to go outside anymore.”

That attitude is more common than some of us would like to believe.
In November, 2010, two Oregon State University researchers, writing in American Scientist, made the case that “an ever-growing body of evidence demonstrates that most science is learned outside of school.” In “The 95 Percent Solution,” John H. Falk and Lynn D. Dierking write, “The ‘school-first’ paradigm is so pervasive that few scientists, educators or policy makers question it. This despite two important facts:
Average Americans spend less than 5 percent of their life in classrooms, and an ever-growing body of evidence demonstrates that most science is learned outside of school.”
Falk and Dierking contend that “a major educational advantage enjoyed by the U.S. relative to the rest of the world” is its out-of-school learning landscape, including museums, libraries, zoos, aquariums, national parks, 4-H clubs, scouting, and, I would add, nature centers, state and local parks, and the nearby nature of our neighborhoods. They add, “The sheer quantity and importance of this science learning landscape lies in plain sight but mostly out of mind.” Rather than increasing school time, perhaps we should be investing in expanding quality, out-of-school experiences…”



Emerging research, some of it specific to out-of-school learning, some of it to the impact of time spent in natural environments on cognitive functioning, support that contention. A 2009 report by the National Research Council, Learning Science in Informal Environments: Places, People and Pursuits, “describes a range of evidence demonstrating that even everyday experiences such as a walk in the park contribute to people’s knowledge and interest in science and the environment…” Researcher and educator David Sobel calls place-based education, whether in a local park or the surrounding community, “one of the knights in shining armor.” Students in such programs typically outperform their peers in traditional classrooms.

The benefits accrue in nature-immersed classrooms and natural schoolyards and well beyond the school walls or school boundaries. Schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education have reported significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math.

Children are more likely to invent their own games in green play spaces rather than on flat playgrounds or playing fields. And green play spaces also suit a wider array of students and promote social inclusion, regardless of gender, race, class, or intellectual ability. In addition, studies confirm, they were safer. One study found that so-called at-risk students in week-long outdoor camp settings scored significantly better on science testing than in the typical classroom.

we serve

Some of the best-known research comes from the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, where researchers have discovered that children as young as 5 show a significant reduction in the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder when they engaged with nature. And a yet-to-be published study of over 500 Chicago schools suggests that greening our schools may be one of the most cost-effective ways to raise student test scores.
Many of the available studies describe correlations rather than causality. But the body of evidence is growing, and parents and educators have enough evidence to act.
Some parents and teachers are already taking action. So are out-of-school educators, individually and programmatically. Consider Lori Kiesser’s program, Inside the Outdoors, in Orange County, California, which serves 150,000 children each year with a nature-based STEM education afterschool program. A growing network of grassroots volunteers and professionals, natural teachers and pediatricians work every day at getting kids and their families connected to nature.

Many of us hope that the tide is turning, that educators, parents and young people, too, are becoming more aware of the value of out-of-school experience and self-directed exploration and play, especially in natural settings.

Want your kids to get into Harvard? Tell ’em to go outside.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Special Offer at Kovan 1st and 8th March

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

We are coming to the end of Term 1... 4 lessons to go! 

We are doing a soft launch of a new class at Kovan on Sunday mornings and would like to welcome new trials to join us on 1st and 8th March.


Venue: Kovan Sports Centre
Dates: Sunday, 1st or 8th March
Timing: 9.15am to 10.00am (4 to 6 year olds), 10.15am to 11.00am (2.5 to 4 year olds), 11.15am to 12.00pm (3.5 to 5 year olds)



The trial lesson fee of $20 will apply but we are throwing in a special offer if you sign up for Term 2 (1 lesson free when you sign up for the whole of Term 2) - ask us about the details (terms & conditions apply) when you email or call to register! You can get in touch with us via email (info@readysteadygokids.com.sg) or sms/call our mobile hotline at 9855-8221. 

Please let us have your name, mobile/email address and your child's name & date-of-birth and we will send you an email to confirm your slot in the trial.

Hurry! Places for these 2 weekends are limited!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Its that time of the year again, when the Chinese calendar comes to an end and a beginning. The Year of the Horse will end tonight and we will welcome the Year of the Goat next.

Goat = Greatest Of All Time!



We wish everyone a wonderful holiday period. Remember no classes at all locations this weekend and we will start again on 28th February and 1st March.

May you have a wonderful year ahead, full of joy, happiness and growth! Take good care and con't over-indulge during this period. 

And when we get back next week, we will have some exciting deals to share for Term 2... look out for it. In the meantime, have lots of fun and get some outdoor fun this weekend.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Time to join Ready Steady Go Kids

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Term 1 2015 has kicked off and we are so happy that we are back on the pitches teaching kids the fundamentals of a variety of sports, and helping them improve their motor skills! WOOHOO... we don't know why but doing this makes us happy...

Anyway, we are running free trials at selected classes and will be offering a special promotion if you sign up for the rest of Term 1 in the coming weekends. As usual, register with us (email info@readysteadygokids.com.sg and let us have your name, mobile and your child's name and date-of-birth).

We have a present for you! 
(image from 123rf.com/kakigori)

Here are more details:

Date: 24th January and 31st January 2015

Venue: The Cage Kallang (near McDonalds / KFC at the National Stadium area)
Time: 3.15pm to 4.00pm (4 to 6 year olds), 4.15pm to 5.00pm (2.5 to 4 year olds)

Date: 25th January and 1st February 2015

Venue: The Cage Kallang (near McDonalds / KFC at the National Stadium area)
Time: 3.15pm to 4.00pm (5 to 7 year olds), 4.15pm to 5.00pm (4 to 6 year olds), 5.15pm to 6.00pm (2.5 to 4 year olds)

Venue: Kovan Sports Centre
Time: 4.15pm to 5.00pm (4 to 6 year olds), 5.15pm to 6.00pm (2.5 to 4 year olds)

Venue: The Cage Sports Park (deep inside Turf City... check the map or ask us for a driving/parking guide!)
Time: 3.15pm to 4.00pm (4 to 6 year olds), 4.15pm to 5.00pm (2.5 to 4 year olds)

Don't forget to email us or call 9855-8221 and ask for the details on the special promo when you sign up after trial.


Share this with your friends and come together! Limited places available (about 6 only) for each class so please contact us soon.

Toodles! Hope to see you soon...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Why Motor Skills Matter

by Rae Pica, an education consultant who specialises in children's physical activity. This article was taken with her permission from her website raepica.com. 


Those of us who work to make movement a bigger part of children’s lives and education have heard similar comments—out loud—for years. They’re not surprising given our society’s false notion that the mind and body are separate and the functions of the mind are superior to those of the body. I’m delighted by all the research pointing to the body’s role in cognitive development, but, as a children’s physical activity specialist, I feel strongly that the body matters too. Physical development and physical fitness deserve equal respect and attention! As such, I’ve chosen to focus this, my first Young Children column, on the role of teachers in helping young children learn motor skills.

Many people believe children automatically acquire and perfect motor skills, such as running, jumping, and throwing, as their bodies develop, that it’s a natural process that occurs along with physical maturation. It is true that one day the infant rolls over by herself, eventually starts to crawl, and then suddenly rises up onto hands and knees and begins creeping. Sometime around her first birthday, with only a little assistance and a lot of enthusiastic encouragement from adults, she takes her first steps. And then it seems, almost before you know it, she’s off and running!


Before you run, you have to roll over, 
crawl, creep, stand and walk!

But maturation takes care of only part of the process—the part that allows a child to execute most movement skills at an immature or beginning level. At this level something about the child’s form or technique in performing a physical skill isn’t fully developed. This can happen even with such basic motor skills as walking and running. (If you’ve ever observed a child who hasn’t quite mastered the ability to move his limbs in perfect opposition [right arm and left leg, left arm and right leg] or whose feet roll in, pinky toes lifting off the ground, you know this is true.) When children don’t get the help they need to learn physical skills, many never fully master gross (large muscle) motor skills. 

The ability to perform gross motor skills is related directly to physical fitness. A competent mover will gladly keep moving; he or she will engage in such activities as dancing, jumping rope, and hanging and swinging on the playground equipment. A child who feels physically awkward and uncoordinated is going to avoid movement. Such a child isn’t likely to take part in an after-school game of tag or hopscotch or to climb the monkey bars during
recess. Since poor movement habits tend to remain from childhood into adulthood, a physically inactive child is likely to grow up to be an inactive adult.
Considering the health hazards for the unfit—obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other risks—teaching children motor skills is indeed just as important as teaching language skills.


Learning motor skills is just as important 
as learning language skills


TO DO MORE

The most important thing you can do is to give children the time, space, and opportunity to move. It’s also critical to observe closely. Based on what you know about motor skills, are you seeing anything that requires attention? For example, does a child land properly from a jump, with her heels coming all the way down and knees bent? If not, you’ll want to work with her to master the correct movements. It can be a simple matter of demonstrating the proper technique or of offering a few simple words of encouragement. For instance, if a child is landing with straight legs, you could simply suggest she make her legs “bendy” when she lands. If she’s landing on her toes only, tickle her heels so she feels the part of the foot and then ask her to make sure that part touches the floor when she comes down.

Fortunately, serious motor control problems are fairly rare. But motor skill delays, unlike language delays, can be difficult to detect, and they will not simply disappear on their own. If a child is a bit awkward and uncoordinated in his movements in comparison to others his age, it could be due to slight motor delays or to limited opportunities for active play. The child may just be clumsy, a trait that can be inherited. Similarly, what you assume to be a problem may be due to lack of maturity rather than poor motor coordination. For example, if a preschooler regularly drops a ball when you toss it to her, you shouldn’t rush to the conclusion that she’s experiencing delays. Catching a ball is a skill many preschoolers are still learning. Books like Experiences in Movement, listed below, include information on milestones in motor development, which can help you know what to expect at certain ages. 


Get active and play little games 
to improve motor skills (image from 
123rf.com/iimages)

If you suspect a child has a problem with certain skills, the first thing to do is ensure he gets more practice. For instance, if he’s having trouble with alternating movements, like climbing or descending stairs, play games with repetitive movement patterns, like hopscotch. If he’s always walking on tiptoe, play a game in which you walk on heels only, or stick bottle caps on the heels of his sneakers, inviting him to make noise with them as he walks. If he doesn’t swing his arms while he walks or runs, put a streamer in each hand, inviting him to make them move back and forth; or attach Velcro strips with bells to his wrists, inviting him to make “music” with his arms. If a problem persists (especially after other children have moved to more advanced skills), speak with the child’s parents about consulting a pediatrician, occupational therapist, or physical therapist for an evaluation.



TO LEARN MORE

Following are resources you can use to familiarize yourself with both the importance and the fundamentals of motor skills. You don’t have to be a motor development specialist or study movement in depth to help children build
motor skills.

Landy, J.M., & K. Burridge. 2000. Ready to use fundamental motor skills & movement activities for young children. West Nyack, NY: Center for Applied Research in Education.
Little, T.L., & L. Yorke. 2003. Why motor skills matter. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pica, R. 2004. Experiences in movement: Birth to age eight. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Learning.
Sanders, S.W. 2002. Active for life: Developmentally appropriate movement programs for young children. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Also, visit www.pecentral.org. Click on the Lessons tab, then choose the appropriate age range.




*please note that pictures have been added by us to enhance the delivery of the message.