Life Can Be A Zoo: A Guide for Stretching for Young Children

Stretching is important for any age especially children since their muscles and bones have not finished growing yet. Though injuries to children are more easily repaired than for adults, bone and ligament injuries never repaired as fully as healthy new muscle. Stretching is generally overlooked in children’s training programs yet children need to stretch for the same reasons as adults.

Hence the following animal poses designed to teach flexibility, strength, balance, concentration, and the importance of stretching, presented as a play, achieve the desired results.

Disability Youth Overview Part 5

This is the last of our series.  We will discuss learning disabilities, autism, and behavior differences.
Learning Disability
A learning disability is a disorder in which spoken or written language, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or mathematical calculations is a struggle. That learner is typically one or more grade levels below the average child, and for that individual, learning is quite difficult. Milestones in motor skills and memorization are inhibited. If a teacher or trainer can provide activities using the learner’s strengths, increased visual and verbal directions, and hands-on experiences, the learner can experience success. Many people misunderstand students with learning disabilities and mistakenly characterize them as lazy, weird, and socially impaired. These persons learn differently, and the attuned teacher or trainer must realize that learners should work in their own ways.

Disability Youth Overview Part 4

Last month we talked about motor skill differences with children.  This month we will discuss varies mental disabilities.
Mental Disabilities
People with mental impairments develop at a slower rate emotionally, developmentally, and physically. Genetic conditions, problems with pregnancy, and early health problems may cause mental retardation. Mental retardation is very common, affecting 3 out of every 100 people. There are four basic levels of retardation. With all mental disabilities, the structure is key. Advice for working with those students with mental retardation includes breaking down tasks into simpler steps, using concise simple directions, providing opportunities for repetition, repeating tasks and skills, and striving for appropriate age-level behavior. A good teacher or trainer will have more than one way to accomplish a goal if the first way they teach the student does not work.

Disability Youth Overview Part 3

This is the third in the series on youth disabilities. This month we will focus on motor skill disabilities.

Motor Skills
Children with motor skills disabilities often have another disability. They move slowly and have a hard time controlling their muscles. Some children suffer from lack of ability with large motor movements such as running, jumping, kicking and throwing, and catching, and others with small motor movements such as using their hands and fingers. Teachers and trainers must work together with an adaptive physical educator to find simplified ways to teach fitness skills. It is helpful to teach academic and physical skills by breaking the tasks down into small parts. Fine motor skills that should be integrated into academic and fitness activities include kneading with dough, working with modeling clay, using whole punchers, cutting with scissors, and writing in sand or shaving cream. Painting with a bucket of water on a chalkboard or driveway and writing words on a chalkboard or sidewalk are good activities to include in fine motor coordination. An occupational and physical therapist is helpful in the gym, classroom, and home.

Disability Youth Overview Part 2

Last month we talked about working with children with physical disabilities.

We will continue the discussion of physical impairments with visual, hearing and speech and language impairments.
Visual Impairments
A visual impairment is more than someone who wears eyes glasses. Their visual acuity is 20/70 or less, and they will struggle with vision, even when using a corrective prescription. A trainer or teacher may assist the student by using verbal directions and by asking the student for how the student learns best. Because of their limited vision, the student often has poor motor skills and displays easy fatigue. Ask them how they would feel comfortable being guided. Give students mental pictures and descriptive words. Simplifying the game or skill is also effective.  Also, give a mental picture of the environment and have a student helper that can stay with the participant as they participate in the activity.  If the child is partially sighted use reflective tape for visual guidance.

5 Basic Types of Relays To Make Great Field Days

As the weather gets warmer children are ready for a change as you train them. Try the option of doing field days and relays with your kids. They are a great finale to your fitness training sessions.

Relays and field day activities reinforce teaching direction, timing, agility, and coordination. They also teach the importance of cooperation, conforming to following rules, and winning and losing games graciously. Emphasis should be on improving skill; not to prove who the best athlete in games is. Group instructors can also individually time students and see their improvement in a skill by performing the relays at the beginning and ending of a training program. It is also a great way to test kids without having to buy special equipment. Relays can be easily done with cones, beanbags, ropes, balls and other ordinary gym equipment. Some relays do not need any equipment at all. Most relay and field days can be played inside or outside.

Eggceptional Easter

Easter has been known for its many traditions. The first and most important tradition is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eggs were the prized gift for servants and children and seen as a symbol of fertility. They are dyed decorated, decorated with designs painted to symbolize new life and celebrate various church traditions. The Easter Bunny also shows fertility and originated in Germany and later the tradition came to Pennsylvania. Easter Cards originated in England the symbol of most of them was a bunny. Today cards are the third most important holiday they are given behind Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day and Christmas. And lastly, parades were given to show the new life of Christ and to celebrate the new clothes that are often given on Easter.

Movement Games

In learning, sometimes you just gotta move. These are games I have used in my classroom to teach academics and get my students moving. If you get the students to move, they will not only learn but also develop their visual, verbal, and vocal skills.

Materials: Circles with each letter of the alphabet and numbers 1–10, balls with various letters and numbers on them, and feet with letters and numbers on them.

Brain Breaks

Brain Breaks are activities for those who work with children. They last five to ten minutes and help students focus on academic material. Typically, Brain Breaks are used by teachers who work with children ranging from preschool through college, but other people can use them too. Experts agree that they should be used every 25 minutes or so, or at certain breaks in an academic day. Short movement activities in the instructional day not only allow students to get their “wiggles” out, but energize them and increase their ability to focus on the next learning activity. As our world becomes busier, many parents are not able to take their children outside for supervised physical activity. Experts agree that Brain Breaks get their minds focused and their blood pumping.

Motor Skill Development Basics

It is essential that children have early movement exploration programs in order to develop normally and completely into successful athletes as adults. Early training in perceptual motor learning must include total involvement in the environment. Infants can track an object held close to them by moving their entire body. Later this tracking develops tracking in a variety of directions, a skill that is essential in preparation for catching and throwing a ball. Holding a baby in various positions is also important. This causes effective kinesthetic skills as you hold and carry the baby in different positions.

  Propriception can be developed in the pool. Putting an infant partially in   the water will stimulate movement and improve perception. Infants have   natural swimming abilities until they are about a quarter of a year old.         Reinforcing this skill early will ensure that the reflex will not disappear       and fear of the water later will diminish.

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