The benefits of sport are well known – it fosters better physical and mental health, acts as a catalyst for cultivating confidence and increases social interaction. Unfortunately, parents...

...often side-line sport as it demands a high level of energy and expertise on their part. With time, a child’s level of dependence increases as their muscles are not stretched or developed. A sense of restlessness without outlet can often also result in temper tantrums.

The good news is that through using the methodology of Fundamental Movement Skills, our children can achieve a much higher measure of sporting ability than typically assumed. “I know that some of you might be thinking: ‘My child can’t even hold a pencil and doesn’t look me in the eye. How is it possible for him to play games like Captain’s Ball or soccer?’ Let me tell you that it is definitely possible! I have had high support and unresponsive students who, at the end of a year, were able to play a game of passing and catching. Their teachers were amazed,” encourages Ms Maria Koh, Sports Co-ordinator for Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School.

Fundamental Movement Skills involves identifying specific skills needed to play a game such as tracking movement, catching, responding to name-calling and spatial awareness.  Following this, each fundamental skill needs to be further broken down into finer processes of choosing the right equipment, setting achievable tasks and choosing an appropriate starting point.

For instance, to train a child to learn how to catch, you might first begin with using scarves instead of a ball, as scarves fall at a much slower rate and are easier to grasp. The starting point should also be differentiated. While some children can begin catching and tossing from a further distance, some children might require shorter distances – even as close as right in front of their faces.  

However, with so many levels of repetition, task avoidance was a potential barrier to the child’s progress. “Just as how adults get frustrated sitting through meetings without a proper end-time, so our children get similarly frustrated being asked to repeat a task without knowing how many times they are required to,” joked Ms Maria Koh. This is easily remedied by providing clear visuals to let our children know how many rounds are expected of them, which helps them to manage their expectations.  

Through this manner of steady and incremental progress over a year, our children can experience the joys of game-play. The skills acquired in the process also can be easily replicated in the community setting – at playgrounds and parks, which enables our children to play with their siblings and peers.  

Lissa Low for Rainbow Centre, Singapore

Rainbow Centre serves infants, children and youths with a diverse range of special developmental and learning needs at two campuses – Yishun Park and Margaret Drive. The Rainbow Centre Training and Consultancy (RCTC) was also established in 2000 to provide training to internal and external stakeholders.

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