Children increase self regulation skills through structured physical education lessons.

Along with learning the fundamental movement skills such as balance, stability, locomotion and gross motor skills, the additional benefits for children to participate regularly in a structured movement program are to increase the stimulation and development of self regulation and of working memory.

Self regulation is the ability to regulate emotions and control attention and impulses

Children who lack self regulation and memory skills in the early years are more likely to experience social, cognitive and emotional challenges later when they attend kindergarten, pre-school and primary school.

Self regulation is the best predictor for future success as measured by research based on health, wealth and criminal offence statistics. The results showed that self regulation in preschool children at age four was positively associated with social competency, school engagement, and academic performance in the early school years at age eight and later.

Correspondingly, the lack of self regulation in the early years is associated with internalizing problems, peer victimization and externalizing problems in the early school years.

Self regulation and working memory are vital skills to learn early

Children are especially receptive to the development of self regulation skills between the ages of three and six. By participating in a physical education program, children can develop and increase their abilities for self regulation and to control their attention and focus.

For example, when children hear and follow instructions for a physical challenge they need to think before they act and they must  control their impulses in order to achieve the task.

At the same time they need to remember the instructions. This means they also develop and practice their listening skills, attention span and their working memory.

In addition, children might need to wait for their turn, which develops patience.  Or they might do activities with other children and learn the value of teamwork. These are important social skills to nurture at an early age.

The benefits of a structured movement program are immense

There are so many benefits for children who participate in a well-taught, structured movement program. Not only do they learn basic skills such as balance, stablility and locomotion. They repeat and practice these movements correctly, which builds neural connections in the brain. It also prevents remedial action later for skills not learned or that were learning incorrectly.

An experienced teacher will be able to recognize problems early and will help a child to reach their physical milestones and to build physical self confidence.

In today’s school environment children are expected to follow rules and instructions. Eventually they learn work both independently and in groups on multi-disciplinary projects using technology.

Children might be in a class where there are pupils with additional educational needs and behaviour challenges. In order to learn in such diverse environments, a student’s ability to self regulate is a decisive factor in their potential for learning.

Taking part in structured exercise progams will have a positive impact on a child’s self regulation, working memory and social skills. This therefore prepares the whole child — brain, body and emotions — for kindergarten, primary school and further education.

Early years physical education programs provide a good foundation for learning complex sports, future achievements, positive interpersonal behaviors and healthy living in later life.

Therese Dahl
B.A. Psychomotor Therapy
M.A. Educational Psychology

Therese Dahl has assisted MoovKids with assessing and documenting the benefits of the activities in the MoovKids program.

I am happy to have a call with you to discuss your movement education needs. Whether it be about curriculum goals, resources, equipment or just general class management, I will gladly assist however I can.