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Preschoolers’ motor skill development connected to school readiness

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Preschoolers’ fine and gross motor skill development is indicative of later performance on two key measures of kindergarten readiness, according to a study published today by researchers from Oregon State University. Preschoolers who performed better on fine and gross motor skill assessments early in the school year were more likely to have better social behavior and “executive function,” or ability to pay attention, follow directions and stay on task later in the school year, scientists said. “Physical activity and motor skills are important for preparing for school and for life,” said Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the study.”Now that we know these things are linked to school readiness, we have more tools to share with parents and educators so they can help young children be ready for school.” The findings were published in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, and supported by the Environmental Health Sciences Center and the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU and OSU-Cascades. The work included an interdisciplinary team of researchers.”(more)

The old-school skill that every kid should learn if they want to be smarter

Business Insider – Minda Zetlin, Inc.

“If you have kids in school, how much time do they spend learning cursive handwriting? Probably not much, especially if they’re beyond first grade. The Common Core standards dominating education these days only call for teaching legible handwriting, and only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, students spend their time learning to use keyboards. That might seem like a good thing…But a growing body of scientific evidence seems to show that the all the older people lamenting the death of penmanship are on to something. Whether or not they actually do much writing by hand in later life, learning to write by hand and do it well — in cursive as well as print — has measurable benefits for kids’ brains. Here are just a few:”(more)

10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

The Washington Post – Lauren Knight

“Spring is in full swing: The buds on the trees have opened, birds are chirping, and children are eager to go outside and get muddy. Unless, that is, they are like the fourth-grader author Richard Louv spoke to for his book “Last Child in the Woods.” “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” the child told Louv. According to extensive research Louv and others have conducted since the 1980s, spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play. It has also been said to help with the symptoms of mental illness…So how do we get them out there, particularly those who are used to being inside, plugged in or shuffled from one structured, adult-led activity to the next? Here are 10 ways to get children excited about spending more time outside and how to make it fun for everyone.”(more)

CrossFit for Kids? Experts Weigh the Benefits and Risks

Live Science – Cari Nierenberg

“CrossFit is the high-intensity training method that often pushes adult bodies and minds to their limits. But is a kid-friendly version of this challenging strength and conditioning program a good idea?…The benefits for children and teens of doing CrossFit is that it “gets their butts off the couch,” said Greg Myer, director of research and director of the human performance lab at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Childhood is an ideal window of opportunity to influence proper motor and movement skills,” said Myer, who is not affiliated with CrossFit…Encouraging children to become involved in an exercise program, whether it’s called CrossFit or something else, can be a way of getting kids active and encouraging them to master movement skills during their growing years, he said. But if children don’t receive good instructions, especially when it comes to strength or resistance training, they may develop muscle soreness or get hurt…”(more)

Why children need to play with their parents

Consumer Affairs – Sarah D. Young

“We all know children need to play, and we all know children need their parents. But in the Venn Diagram of those two facts, the intersection is important. According to research, children need to play with their parents in order to gain certain social skills that will benefit them in the future. Playing specifically with a parent — as opposed to siblings or with friends on the playground — is crucial to helping build a child’s confidence. Parents can offer a child more mature, varied types of play, building competence that can then be carried over to other social situations. Parent-child pretend and physical play, according to Psychology Today, is linked with the child’s competence, gross motor skills, peer group leadership and cognitive development.”(more)

The Importance of Physical Play in Child Development

Pattaya Today – Hettie Visser, Kimberly Wonderly

“Physical play helps a child to develop connections between the nerve cells and the brain. As these connections develop, a child’s fine and gross motor skills, socialization, personal awareness, language, creativity and problem solving are improved. Ideal physical play incorporates play with social interactions and problem solving.”(more)