I am both a karate and a gymnastics instructor and have been running my own teaching business for both of these disciplines for ten years in Finland. After teaching children of different ages and abilities for over 30 years I am becoming increasingly concerned about the evident decline in the physical ability of young children.

Children once became coordinated naturally by exposure to and practice of all kinds of movement. Today, however, young children are spending far too much sedentary time both in school and at home. Sadly, screens are the main cause for this, along with a lack of inspiration and the example to move from adults.

When I started to teach karate to children aged five and six years it became clear that I had to first prepare their bodies for the learning of karate. Karate requires balance, spatial awareness, crossing the midline, hand-eye coordination, stamina and core strength. These skills are only developed if children are given the opportunity to practice and improve them.

With a combination of ideas from my gymnastic background and many years of experience creating fun movement lessons, I started to integrate coordination activities together with the teaching of karate. This has proven to be a very successful concept.

Fun coordination activities can be included in a warm-up or implemented in circuit training. Playful partner activities teach cooperation and team work. The key is to use methods that capture and hold the children’s attention, such as using sound effects and voice modulation to raise or lower the intensity and energy level of the lessons.

To manage the teaching of activities I only let children practice a skill when instructed to do so. This way I can demonstrate a movement correctly first, make sure they understand what is expected and then observe how the children accomplish the skill.

Consistent teaching methods, fun, energy-filled classes and skill-focused practice can take a child on a long and successful sporting journey. 95 percent of my students return each season and now six are in the Kimura Shukokai Finnish Karate team. They started at a young age learning karate in a fun and balanced way, and today they successfully represent their country.

Purposeful movement experiences are so beneficial for children. If the skills are taught well and practiced often, children will reap the benefits, not only physically, but academically as well.

I am passionate about young children becoming coordinated, physically strong and self-confident at as young an age as possible. This is why I have compiled all of the fun coordination activities into my program, MoovKids. Through my instructional video resource I hope to support others with coordinating children in an enjoyable and beneficial way.

I also happily share my tried and trusted teaching methods and a wide variety of coordination activities through workshops and video trainings. My goal is to inspire as many adults as possible to teach well and with confidence and to make a difference in the physical development of young children.

It is our responsibility as adults, whether we are a parent, a teacher, or a sports instructor to inspire children to move well and often, and in doing so we are making a meaningful impact on their lives.

Darlene Koskinen

P.S.: Follow MoovKids on YouTube for more activity ideas and inspiration!