Drug testing

Kids and Sports: Fundamentals First

Would you hand a child calculus problems once she was able to count to ten? A geometry text when he began to recognize shapes? War and Peace as soon as she could recite her ABCs? Of course not! Not only is it preposterous to have such expectations of a child, but also it sets up the child for failure - and, most likely, a dread of and distaste for calculus, geometry, and reading.

Yet all too many children are enrolled in gymnastics, karate, dance classes, and organized sports before they've mastered such basic movements as bending and stretching, walking with correct posture, and bouncing and catching a ball. How is that significantly different from expecting a child who's barely learned to speak to recite the Declaration of Independence - for an audience, no less?

The fact that a little one can walk doesn't necessarily mean he's ready to successfully - or fearlessly - walk a balance beam. Because a toddler is flexible enough to get her big toe into her mouth, that doesn't mean she's ready for ballet's pli?s and relev?s. Even if a five-year-old can run circles around you, it doesn't mean he's prepared to simultaneously run and dribble a ball in a fast-paced game of soccer. And how much sense does it make to enroll an eight-year-old in competitive softball while she's still demonstrating an improper throwing form?

The basic motor skills - nonlocomotor (stationary, like bending and stretching), locomotor (traveling, like walking or hopping), and manipulative (object control, like bouncing and catching a ball) - have been called the ABCs of movement. And, just as we wouldn't expect children to begin reading without the ability to identify letters of the alphabet, we shouldn't expect children to take part in certain structured physical activities without first experiencing success with the ABCs of movement.

Movements - from the simple to the complex - are like building blocks. You must have the foundation laid before you can construct the ground floor. You've got to have the ground floor completed before the rest of the building can be erected. Similarly, a logical progression of motor skills is essential if children are to achieve optimal motor development. If they skip the prerequisites, they may never progress successfully from one level of skill development to the next.

Moreover, bad habits acquired early in life are likely to persist throughout an entire lifetime. For example, the young pitcher who hasn't yet acquired a mature level of throwing isn't likely to lose his bad habits simply because he's required to pitch one or two games a week. Rather, the odds are these bad habits will simply become more and more ingrained as time goes on - a situation that could have ripple-effect consequences for years to come. He could, for instance, develop shoulder problems that prevent him not only from pitching in high school and beyond but also from taking part in recreational and fitness activities as an adult.

In the course of a lifetime, it is from the prenatal period through age five that children acquire and best learn the basic motor skills. The most sensible course of action, therefore, is to ensure children learn them correctly during this period. The least sensible strategy is for children to learn incorrectly or only to a certain, low level and expect them to correct their errors or improve their skill level merely because they age chronologically. Writing in the International Journal of Physical Education, motor development specialist and professor Carl Gabbard states: "In contemporary motor development literature, the period of early childhood is associated with the fundamental movement phase of motor behavior. This is a unique period in the lifespan due primarily to the emergence of fundamental movement abilities which establish the foundation upon which more complex movement skills are possible later in life."

In other words, fundamentals first. Children should walk before they run. They should bend and stretch before they twist and dodge. They should throw for distance before throwing for accuracy. Static movement (balancing on tiptoes or hitting a ball off a tee) should precede dynamic movement (walking a balance beam or hitting a pitched ball). And children should definitely succeed at single actions (like bouncing a ball) before attempting combinations of them (simultaneously running and bouncing a ball).

Still, a study conducted at Northern Kentucky University found that almost half (49%) of children ages five to eight lacked the minimum skills necessary to play organized sports. And yet there are millions of five-to-eight-year-old - not to mention three? and four-year-old - children who are playing (or trying to play) organized sports. There are millions of others participating in dance, gymnastics, karate, and more who similarly lack the requisite skills.

Of course, if a child is involved in sports, dance, gymnastics, and such, there's even more reason to ensure she's able to successfully perform the fundamentals. First, fundamentals are the prerequisites to sport-specific, dance, and gymnastic skills. If a child can't perform a skill required by her chosen activity, the chances are excellent she hasn't sufficiently learned a prerequisite skill. Second - and perhaps more important - children who are successful in physical activities continue in those physical activities and others.

Rae Pica is a children's physical activity specialist and the author of Your Active Child: How to Boost Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Development through Age-Appropriate Activity (McGraw-Hill, 2003). Rae speaks to parent and education groups throughout North America. You can visit her at http://www.movingandlearning.com.

In The News:

The headquarters flag used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War will go on display in Philadelphia next month, marking its first public appearance in the city since the war itself.
A stunning new study from NASA highlights the impact humans are having on fresh water availability across the globe, mentioning climate change and several other factors.
A man in Cheatham County, Tennessee caught and later killed a 6.5 foot timber rattlesnake that slithered through his backyard.
New research reveals that some black hole collisions may cascade, with the dense objects crashing into one another to create even more-massive black holes.
A new type of camera developed by U.S. researchers will allow astronomers to directly image planets around nearby stars in the search for another Earth.
Octopuses are weird. This is not just because they look odd. It’s not because they’re disturbingly smart. It’s because they have a strange power.
The discovery of clay tablets in Iraqi Kurdistan has helped archaeologists unlock the mystery of an ancient lost city.
In space, they say, no one can hear you sneeze. But Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt was doing a lot of that inside the Challenger command module when he visited the moon in 1972.
Elon Musk’s wants to use the biggest rocket SpaceX has ever built to ferry humans around the globe, promising passengers the ability to get anywhere on Earth in under an hour.
Earth-like planets with severe tilts and orbits could enter abrupt "snowball states," in which entire oceans freeze and surface life cannot survive, according to new research.

Are You Addicted to Your Children?

Is it possible to be using our children addictively?Anything that... Read More

Im a Father, Doesnt Anyone Care?

The snow was getting heavier with each lift of the... Read More

EEG Biofeedback Training as a Treatment Option for ADHD

The popularity of EEG Biofeedback Training continues to grow both... Read More

Dads, Handle your Kids Mistakes

One of the most difficult parts of being a father... Read More

Parenting Problem? 5 Simple Things That Will Help

What is a parenting problem?Parenting is a tough job, we... Read More

Managing Your Stepfamily

If you are a member of a stepfamily, you know... Read More

Home For The Holidays: Is it Time for That Talk?

Just a couple of years ago Annie helped her parents... Read More

A Legacy For Dakota

Have you heard the song; "I Hope You Dance"? It... Read More

A Guide To Help You Teach Your Children Positve Self-Image Through Fitness

Raising a pre-teen or teenage daughter (or son) is not... Read More

A Place For Everything: Its Childs Play

What parent hasn't gone into a son's or daughter's room... Read More

Baptisms And Alternative Ways To Hold A Naming Ceremony

Traditionally, babies have been named at a christening/baptism.... Read More

Best Investment

Every week I write something about the stock market -... Read More

Does Sexual Abuse Usually Occur Just Once?

Your daughter tells you that Uncle Charley has touched her... Read More

No Invitation Needed: Sacred Children Series - 3 of 3

I had my first two children on either side of... Read More

The Effects of Televised Sexual Content on Adolescents

According to a September 2004 study by the RAND Corporation,... Read More

What is Hyperactivity in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Most of the ADHD kids that are seen in a... Read More

Friends Are A Gift You Give Yourself

My oldest boy is fifteen and was a real jerk... Read More

Why Wont My Child Do as I Say?

In speaking with parents a comment I frequently hear is... Read More

Tips for Parents of Teenagers: Dont Just Survive - Thrive!

What makes parenting so challenging at times? One widespread research... Read More

Examining Drugs for ADHD, Particularly Strattera

In memory of 14 year old Matthew Smith; 11 year... Read More

Raise Your Child to Be a Leader Not a Follower

Your child's leadership skills begin at the family dinner table.... Read More

10 Steps to School Year Success

One of the most important aspects of parenting, is ensuring... Read More

So, The Thing Is... Im Feeling A Little Guilty

So, the thing is? I am feeling a little guilty.I... Read More

Co-Morbidity Rates: Other Problems That May Come With ADHD

Diagnosing children and teens with ADHD can be a challenge.... Read More

Pipe Down!

Life is funny.My twenty-year-old daughter, Melanie, has a her new... Read More

led light bulbs dimmable street light base Pete's produce ..