Physical activity and holistic development in children

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 28-11-2023

Physical activity and a child’s holistic development

In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) recognized physical inactivity as one of the risk factors of global mortality. Since then, the issue of physical inactivity has received great attention from both health and educational practitioners, especially in the context of its relationship with childhood obesity. Research indicates that in the past few years, the rate of childhood obesity has increased by globally, with 38 million children under the age of 5 considered to be overweight or obese in 2019 (WHO, 2020). This global increase in child obesity has been attributable to two major factors: poor diet and physical inactivity (Hesketh et al 2017). Early childhood physical activity is critically important in helping to reduce the health risk factors associated with obesity and other developmental health issues (Glapa et al, 2018). As such, Peden et al (2017) pointed out that a child’s development from the onset greatly depends on the number of movements they make. But because children like to move and play freely without any obstruction, it is important that they are allowed and encouraged to move freely because this will enhance their holistic development, including the affective and cognitive developmental aspects. This essay seeks to evaluate the importance of child physical activity towards their holistic development. Whatsapp Freedom of movement allows children the freedom to interact with people and things around them. It is a way for them to experiment, discover and explore various aspects of life that contributes to their holistic development. In this regard, Schneller et al (2017) noted that when children move, they gather the information that helps them with the necessary knowledge to express themselves and expand their ideas about the world. To effectively understand a child’s holistic or total development, it is important to evaluate the factors that contribute to their holistic developmental process. As such, Rhodes et al (2020) wrote that a child’s physical activity can be evaluated through both locomotive and non-locomotive activities. For example, an activity such as Hallway Hopscotch, according to Green et al (2018), children undergo various locomotive and non-locomotive activities that affect every aspect of their development. Similar remarks were made by Martins et al (2017) who pointed out that a well-planned and implemented physical education activity can make a significant contribution to children’s total development. In the following section, we explore how physical activities proposed in task 1can contribute to a child’s holistic development. This will be explored in the context of psychomotor, cognitive, fundamental movement abilities and motor learning. Physical activity and psychomotor development Martins et al (2017) suggested that a child’s psychomotor development occurs based on their age. However, research on the benefits of playground activities for children shows that whereas all playground activities give children an opportunity for physical or psychomotor development, there are certain components of playground activities that are more appropriate for that development. For example, Morgan & Young (2017) found that children tend to achieve better physical development at a lighter speed because it helps develop their physical fitness and important motor skills. Studies by Yarimkaya & Esenturk (2020) also showed that participating in physical activities such as scooters, tricycles and pedal cars facilitate a child’s organic development and create a general sense of well-being through better body composition, flexibility, cardio-respiratory endurance and muscle endurance. Allowing children to be physically active through the tricycles and pedal cars also allows them to extend their physical skills and promote their physical interests needed for the psychomotor or physical developmental stages.

Physical activity and cognitive development

Several pieces of research have pointed out various theories of cognitive development that explain the role of physical activity in establishing effective mental and cognitive development of children throughout their infancy and adolescence. These theories are especially important in designing and developing various physical activity interventions for children and adolescents (Sierra-Díaz et al, 2019). For instance, Uzonoz et al (2017) established a link between a child’s physical activity and academic performance, whereby physical activity was found to facilitate children’s ability to integrate movement experiences with social studies, science, and other subjects. However, it is important to note that none of the reviewed studies recommended the replacement of classroom teaching with physical activities to boost children’s academic performance. But, Mavilidi et al (2017) insisted that children usually consider movement as a generally ‘fun’ activity that is preferable to the routing classroom ‘work’. Physical activity has also been found to promote children’s mathematical attributes. For instance, studies by Cairney et al (2019) found that physical activity increases children’s need to learn how to use numbers especially when the activity involves number counting, subtraction, addition, division and multiplication. Indeed, in the proposed Rice races physical activity, the children would need to balance various quantities of rice between containers then compare them. This activity would help develop the participants’ addition and subtraction mathematical skills. Because many games and sporting activities require children to compute averages or keep scores, children must have the mathematical knowledge to effectively enjoy those games. Consequently, according to Mandigo et al (2019), children who do not have good mathematical skills will find it problematic to have a good attention span within the classroom, and therefore physical activities such as Hallway Hopscotch provide a good alternative for such children. Nevertheless, physical activities that require teamwork and collaboration can improve children’s language skills. As they interact and communicate among themselves, the children learn how to effectively express their opinions and ideas to colleagues (Aufseeser et al, 2018). Thus, these pieces of evidence reveal how children can transfer playground physical activity skills into academic activities and other real-world skills such as strategy, working memory and behaviour inhibition.

Physical activities and fundamental movement abilitiess

Children between the age of 2-7 are at a critical point in life when they develop fundamental movement abilities. According to Cliff et al (2017), both boys and girls in this age group develop and refine basic movement patterns in three major areas namely locomotion, manipulation and non-locomotion. Locomotion is defined as the child’s ability to horizontally or vertically transport their body from one point to another (Hesketh et al 2017). Popeska et al (2018) pointed out that locomotion abilities can be developed through various physical activities such as skipping, running, jumping, and walking. Therefore, physical activities such as Hallway Hopscotch that involve running, jumping and skipping can effectively help in developing children’s locomotion skills. Children between 2-7 years old are also in the process of developing their manipulation skills. According to Cairney et al (2019), manipulation refers to a child’s ability to give force from something or receive force. Physical activities such as kicking, catching, bouncing and trapping have been found to enhance children’s manipulative skills (Sierra-Díaz et al, 2019). for example, the Scooters, tricycles and Pedal Cars activity will require the child to wear a helmet and hold on the scooters, enabling them to develop their manipulating skills. Lastly, the non-locomotive movement abilities have also been found to enhance through physical activity. Peden et al (2017) defined non-locomotive movement skills as children's ability to move their bodies both vertically and horizontally while their bodies remain in place. Activities such as twisting, stretching, bending swaying and swinging are known to be good enhancers of children’s non-locomotive movement abilities. In the proposed activity, the children will be required to engage in various hopping on grids and manoeuvre around. This will facilitate them to improve their non-locomotive movement abilities. There are several other developmental characteristics that physical activity can enhance in children. Children between the age of 2-5 like to move and play freely and this helps with their cognitive-affective improvement. In the process, their body processes and functions become regulated, and even though their fine motor control is not yet well developed, their gross motor controls develop rapidly (Hesketh et al 2017). According to Popeska et al (2018) physical activities such as orienteering facilitates these elements of development.

Physical activity and neuromuscular skill development

One of the unique and most significant benefits of physical activity to children’s development is the development of a child’s neuromuscular skills. As Popeska et al (2018) noted, it could be looked at as one of the core objectives of elementary school programs and as a means through which other developmental objectives can be achieved. The interaction between experience and maturation determines the onset of the child’s developmental capabilities. as a result, teachers’ main concern should be on enhancing their fundamental abilities to move in a variety of ways. They should be determined to develop the children’s accuracy and skills in selected games. But at the age of 2-5 years, children are developmentally ready to participate in activities and programs that entail vigorous movement and physical activity (Hesketh et al 2017). As such, according to Peden et al (2017), children need to be engaged in activities that entail a combination of physical movements. Further research on physical activity and neuromuscular activity reveal more roles that teachers can play in promoting children's neuromuscular development through physical activity. For instance, Peden et al (2017) wrote that when developing physical activities, teachers should be ready to identify and recognize children’s readiness for learning, motivate, and provide an enabling atmosphere for learning (Aufseeser et al, 2018).

Physical activity and motor fitness development

Children’s engagement in various physical activities facilitates their physical organic development and general wellbeing. According to Popeska et al (2018), this happens through muscle growth and development that occurs when they continuously engage in vigorous physical activity, a phenomenon that ultimately contributes to their total development. As they exercise, their vital body parts are also favourably affected. For instance, the proposed activities (i.e. Hallway Hopscotch, Scooters, tricycles and Pedal Cars, and Rice races) would help the children to achieve rapid and deeper breathing, increased production of body heat, improve sleep and appetite, as well as the increasing rate of heartbeat. According to Cliff et al (2017), these increased rates of body functions can facilitate increased rates of energy production and breakdown, as well as increased growth. Therefore, the planned physical activity results in various aspects of fitness development including proper rest, sleep, recreation, play and emotional well-being. However, Cliff et al (2017) argue that school physical education activity alone cannot meet the child’s entire physical activity needs because schoolchildren only engage in such activities for just a few hours per week. But, according to Cliff et al (2017), developing the habit of physical activity in children can help with developing a positive attitude towards the importance of physical fitness, motivating them into increasing their participation in physical activity, and increasing the skills and knowledge they need to participate in optimal levels of physical activity. Order Now In conclusion, this essay has identified the contribution of physical activity to children’s total/holistic development. The paper has established that frequent participation in outdoor physical activity can not only help the children learn to move but also move to learn various aspects within their living environment. More importantly, physical activities such as orienteering can enhance children’s fine and gross motor actions.

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