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Children need to move to be school-ready
Basheera Surty

This child does not listen to a word I say.”

“If he sits still for more than 5 minutes, he will make my day!”

“I placed her at the front of the class and yet she has outbursts during lessons”

These are comments we often hear from Grade 1 teachers about children with behavioural and academic challenges in their classes.  These behaviours are also often associated with negative descriptions and emotions toward the child. 

Why does the child appear inattentive and seek movement?

A child who is struggling to cope within an organized class setting is often overwhelmed by the amount of attentiveness that is required of them and the longer period of having to sit at a desk.  Before a child can even perform academically, a child’s mind and body needs to be in a ready state to learn and process information from their environment.

What can practitioners do to ensure that a child is ready to learn?

Practitioners can reduce the behavioural and academic challenges of children by addressing a child’s physical and behavioural skills that are primarily developed in early childhood.  These skills form the foundation for a child to then develop adequate attention enabling a child to concentrate and perform adequately in academics. Physical and behavioural skills are developed through stimulating environments when a child is allowed to move freely and explore their environments. This movement and exploration stimulates the child’s sensory receptors and muscles in the body which than activates the different pathways in the brain in preparation for a higher brain/academic performance.

Activities to implement in ECD centres/ programmes:

It is important that we include children with disabilities into movement programmes by adapting a standard activity slightly to suit them.  Children with disabilities require movement to learn as much and sometimes even more than children without disabilities. 

  1. Basic motor skills include activities such as walking, running, jumping, climbing and ball skills.
  2. Creating and obstacle course:  The children can go through, in, over and under obstacles; throw balls at a target, and jump over a rope or crawl under a rope (if they are in a wheel chair). Some equipment to use for basic motor skills are air mattresses, cones, balloons, balls, bean bags, hoops, ropes, tires and tunnels.
  3. Dancing to music:  Children can listen to songs or create their own songs to dance to. Encourage children to move in whatever manner they want as the music plays, either individually or in groups.
  4. Cooperative games and activities help children learn how to work and play together rather than always compete.
  5. At least 20 minutes of free play during break time is a great way for children to explore through their senses and movement.

“The young child is very hand-minded and the materials are geared to his need to learn through movement, because it is movement that starts the intellect working” - Elizabeth Hainstach, Teaching Monessori in the Home

 

Basheera Surty (Diketo Inclusive Education), bsurty@diketo.com,  0825560241 



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