This post has been sponsored and guest written by Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas to share a helpful and healthy program for children ages 8-12! Dallas Moms Blog supports this organization and their goals.
It’s a scene we are all familiar with – 8-year-old Matt is playing a game of tag with his friends. You notice Matt looks like he’s having more trouble than his other friends – his legs are heavy, his chest is slightly bent over and running seems to takes a lot more effort. As the tagger turns his attention to Matt and closes in for the tag, Matt suddenly falls and gets tagged out. The wave of disappointment washes over Matt’s face as he realizes his fun has ended for this round.
If you are Matt’s parents and you witness this scene once, you might not think much of it. If this occurs frequently, the stereotype is to think Matt is just a clumsy, uncoordinated kid, or not really cut out for sports. But there is danger in throwing your hands up in defeat at such an early age – you risk labeling Matt, you risk his confidence, and worst of all, you risk steering him away from sports, which constitutes most physical activity at his age.
So what should you do as a parent if this scene is all too familiar to you? The answer is to work on coordination with your child.
But what is coordination?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the simplistic definition of coordination is “the ability to use different body parts together efficiently and smoothly.” This developmental skill is comprised of the following:
Balance + Rhythm + Spatial Orientation/Awareness + Reaction + Synchronization of Movements + Kinesthetic Differentiation = Movement Adequacy
Taking note of your child’s coordination and addressing any challenges are both important, but can be tricky tasks. Coordination skills are developed between the ages of 7-14, with the most critical and beneficial time being ages 10-13. Some kids are late bloomers who simply need more exposure and practice specific to movement training (or active play) in life.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Just like anything in life, practicing aspects of coordination results in improvement. Below are a few basic steps to take to immediately improve coordination – all can be done at home, outside or even on the playground at recess:
- Stand on one foot while throwing or catching a ball with a partner to increase balance.
- Jump rope to improve rhythm.
- Crawl or step over hurdles to improve spatial orientation/awareness.
- Stand behind your child and throw a ball forward encouraging your child to chase the ball once he sees it in his peripheral vision to improve reaction.
- Swing arms and clap while skipping to learn synchronization of movements.
- Alternate 10 yards of sprints and longer, controlled strides for a total of 50 yards to improve kinesthetic differentiation.
- Set up an obstacle course incorporating your child’s favorite activities from the list above in rapid succession to improve movement adequacy.
IGNITE! program at Cooper Fitness Center
IGNITE! focuses on multi-directional and linear movement patterns, balance, core strength, reaction times and body weight training to give kids basic movement training, or coordination skills.
At the end of each three week session, these skills are used in game settings to practice translating those skills into “real life” play. IGNITE! creator Shannon Edwards works with participants twice a week in a small group setting with personalized one-on-one time. “IGNITE! participants feel they have trained like ‘real athletes’ and not only do their coordination skills improve, but they also feel more confident and have higher self-esteem,” said Edwards.
Improving coordination skills at a young age will equip your child for success beyond the practice and recess field – it will better equip them for life.
If you’re interested in learning more about the IGNITE! program at Cooper Fitness Center (and the added bonus for parents!), visit their website or request more information using their online form.
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Meredith Rosson is the Assistant General Manager of Cooper Fitness Center. Meredith studied Exercise Physiology at University of Texas at Austin and has played an integral role in developing the Cooper Youth Programs since 2006.
Shannon Edwards is a certified Professional Fitness Trainer and the IGNITE! coach at Cooper Fitness Center. Cooper Fitness Center has offered youth programs for more than 25 years and provides a variety of year-round programs including basketball, swimming, tennis, boxing, martial arts, soccer and other seasonal programming.