Exercise is highly important for the health and well-being of young children and children with special needs are no different. Research has shown that regular physical activity offers a wide variety of benefits to children with special needs. On top of facilitating their physical development, it can improve their self-esteem and social skills and even boost their academic performance. Let us at look at some of the wonderful benefits below.
Physical Health and Development
Naturally, staying active will contribute to the physical health of children with special kids, safeguarding them from obesity and other health conditions that develop from insufficient exercise. It is also the best way to improve their hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, flexibility, muscle strength and muscle endurance. This is especially important for children with special needs who may have additional physical disabilities that caused them to have motor skills below their age-level. Regular physical activity will help them to develop the physical skills they need to function in day-to-day life and to feel good about themselves.
Improvements in Self-Esteem and Mood
When people think about the benefits of staying active, they mostly focus on the physical aspect. They forget that exercise is also effective for boosting mood and alleviating anxiety. Physical exercise can serve as a healthy and fun way for children with special needs to cope with any anxiety or stress that they may experience in their day to day lives.
Research has also shown that regular physical activity is correlated to enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence. When children with special needs see their themselves getting better at a certain sport or physical activity, it will enhance their image of themselves and increase their sense of self-worth. This is especially important for children with special needs as many of them may have trouble fitting in or making friends with other children of their age group. Equipping them with self-confidence and the ability to play certain sports and games with their peers will help them to make friends and to feel included.
Enhanced Attention Span, Social Skills and Academic Performance
Children with special needs can learn a lot from playing sports, such as basketball or handball. The practical nature of sports allows for different cognitive improvements that cannot be obtained from a classroom setting. Because most sports are dictated by a set of rules, engaging in sports allow these children to practice self-regulation and hone their decision-making skills. It also provides them with an opportunity to practice working towards a specific goal and to practice their communication skills through interaction with their peers.
When they learn how to play a sport, they are also learning other valuable skills, such as how to work in a team, how to focus their attention and how to solve problems. Afterwards, they will be able to apply these skills in other aspects of their life, like school, facilitating their ability to learn and boosting their academic performance.
Children with special needs have a lot to gain from staying active. Not only will it enhance their physical skills and cognitive abilities, it offers them a chance to hone their collaborative and social skills as well as learn how to overcome obstacles. Parents and educators to take steps to ensure that children with special needs are given the opportunity to engage in regular sports and physical activities to provide them with the tools to perform better in various aspects of their lives.