As a parent it is not always easy to engage your children with something that is educational. They can get distracted, bored or simply become unreceptive. When a child no longer wishes to learn, they will however be willing to play. The shrewd approach here is to make sure they are learning by stealth.
First of all when children play they are learning to solve problems. how to interact with others and how to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn. Playing can help children do the following:
Develop physical skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, climb and balance. Fine motor skills develop slightly later as children learn to handle small toys.
Develop cognitive concepts. Children learn to solve problems (What does this do? Does this puzzle piece fit here?) through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment.
Develop language skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes.
Develop social skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society.
So what can you do as a parent to encourage learning through play. You are child’s first playmate and you have an important role to play. Interestingly children tend to be more creative when their parent is involved in play. To bring out this creativity simply observe, follow and be creative.
Group environments are really great to help children develop and learn through play. Naturally, structured play will have more benefits than free play. The right after school club or Saturday morning activity will provide this environment for structured play.
YogaBugs does this fantastically. Children are able to imagine themselves as lions or pirates, whilst enjoying physical exercise, developing self-esteem, social interaction and numeracy and literacy skills. This is real learning by stealth.
Daley Thompson was the world’s greatest decathlete, drawing on a competitive attitude and ability that was unparalleled. Until Daley arrived on the scene, the decathlon was one of the least popular spectator events in athletics. He changed this with his flamboyant style. The number of world-class decathletes shot up during the ‘Daley decade’.
The decathlon requires proficiency in ten events – the shot put, discus and javelin throws; the long and high jumps; the pole vault; the 100 m, the 400 m and the 1500 m run and the 110 m hurdles. The winner is considered the all-round athletics champion. Daley Thompson claims more decathlon honours than anybody before or after him. He was the first person ever to hold the World, Olympic, Commonwealth and European titles at the same time, as well as the World Record. Daley set four World Records. In 1984, he became only the second person in Olympic history to claim the decathlon gold twice. He was unbeaten in competition for 9 years.
Born on July 30th 1958 in Notting Hill, London, of Scottish and Nigerian parentage, Daley first competed in the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Games as an 18-year-old. He finished 18th! Four years later at the Moscow Olympics, he won the gold medal.
Daley retired from athletics in 1992 as a result of injury, and went on to play football for Wimbledon and Mansfield Town FC. He was awarded the MBE in 1982, an OBE in 1986 and advanced to CBE in 2000. He was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1982.
Daley was a leading ambassador for the winning London 2012 Olympic bid. He focused on highlighting the benefits that hosting the Olympics would bring to education and sport in schools, and he played a key role lobbying the international IOC members right down to the final vote in Singapore. Daley is also involved with two major charities, Laureus Sport for Good and Barnardo’s.
When we saw this inspiring story about a 93 year old yogini who gets up every morning at 5am to teach classes, we had to share this on the YogaBugs blog. Even after a total hip replacement in the early 2000s, Tao Porchon-Lynch is as flexible as ever. The energetic 93-year-old, from Westchester, who has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, also does the waltz, jitterbug, samba and cha cha cha in her spare time.
“I’d probably be somewhere on the streets, doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I would have gone astray. I probably wouldn’t be here. Having this in my life was definitely a blessing.”
We’ve just learnt about the inspirational work of the Holistic Foundation, a non-profit organisation running yoga programmes for kids in a high crime, high poverty, run-down neighbourhood in Baltimore. Children have learnt how to use yoga and meditation to help them to deal with the stresses of living in such a tough environment. As a consequence, their self-esteem and self-assurance has increased, and they’ve learnt new ways of manage their anger and frustration. Those benefiting from the programme talk moving about why yoga and meditation has proved such an effective way of managing their stress – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40153870/vp/45590288#45590288.
Founders, brothers Ali and Atman Smith met Andres Gonzalez at the University of Maryland College Park. During their last semester there, the trio spent a lot of time reading books on spirituality, philosophy and other related topics. They wondered about what they could do to address the problems they could see but what that something was, they had no idea. During this time they developed their own yoga practice under the guidance of Ali and Atman’s godfather. As young children, Ali and Atman actually grew up with yoga in their home, with their father having them meditate every morning before school. “Our parents were big hippies. They were into yoga, vegetarianism, and all that kind of stuff.”
At the end of that summer, the trio moved back to West Baltimore. Ali and Atman immediately noticed that the sense of family that was present in the neighbourhood when they grew up there was gone. When they were living there as children, the neighbourhood was like one big family, and the “older guys” in the neighbourhood served as mentors and big brothers to all of the younger kids. They saw that as an important factor in their own growth and development. They knew that they wanted to do something to help bring that feeling back to their neighbourhood. In response they planned and developed the formation of a non-profit organisation. After months of hard work, on December 19th, 2001, the Holistic Life Foundation was officially incorporated.
Excitement was high at YogaBugs Mission Control today when we learnt of a news report about a school in California, Kipp Summit Academy, which has incorporated yoga into its daily curriculum. The Head Teacher tells how he saw the benefits early on; since the programme started, suspensions are down 60% and test scores have risen! Here the kids talk movingly about why they enjoy their daily yoga classes:
Headstand Goes To School runs these classes. Their evaluation of the benefits of the programme mirrors the results of YogaBugs own Impact & Change programme which include:
Increased concentration and focus
Greater physical fitness and flexibility
A number of independent research studies support YogaBugs the outcomes we’ve found:
A 2009 University of Sydney study found that yoga reduced impulsive behaviour and ADHD behaviours in students enrolled in schools for disruptive behaviour;
A 2008 study by Powell, Gilchrist and Stapely found that a combined yoga, massage, and relaxation program gave students improvements in self-confidence, social confidence, communication and contribution in class;
A 2004 study by Jensen and Kenny found that yoga improved attention and emotional control in ADHD students. There was a reported reduction of mood swings and temper outbursts;
A 2003 study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improved students’ behaviour, physical health and academic performance, as well as their attitude toward themselves;
A 2003 study by Leipzig University reported that yoga reduces feelings of helplessness and aggression, and in the long term helps emotional balance.
If you’d like to find out more about our Impact & Change programme, check out this link.