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Stoughton preschoolers develop skills through martial artsPosted on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 6:05 am
by IDMA Editor
Students at the E.A. Jones Early Childhood Center Integrated Preschool in Stoughton have been learning the Shaolin martial arts 25 minutes at a time.
And what’s great fun to them is, in fact, something more. The select movements they are using are helping develop their cognitive and physical skills.
Jack Menz participates in karate exercises led by Benjamin Warner at the E.A. Jones Early Childhood Center Integrated Preschool in Stoughton - photo credit Emily J. Reynolds/Wicked Local Stoughton
Tommy Winskowicz, 5, illustrates the point. He had a ball standing on one leg like a flamingo and pretending to hang like a monkey. He seemed just as enchanted when he reached his left hand down and touched his right foot.
Little did he know, his fun actions were also providing benefits to his body and mind.
Alex Kozak makes himself as small as he can as instructed by Benjamin Warner during martial arts exercises at the E.A. Jones Early Childhood Center Integrated Preschool in Stoughton - photo credit Emily J. Reynolds/Wicked Local Stoughton
The bi-lateral body movements were encouraging integration of the left and right parts of his brain.
Martial arts instructor Benjamin Warner said crisscross body movements are important physiological steps for all young children.
Benjamin Warner leads a class of 3- to 5-year-olds in martial arts exercises at the E.A. Jones Early Childhood Center Integrated Preschool in Stoughton - photo credit Emily J. Reynolds/Wicked Local Stoughton
The students at the Jones, many of whom have special needs, are the youngest children Warner has trained.
“They were having some troubles in the beginning, but they are getting much better,” Warner said.
Preschool teacher Nicole Sutka said children, especially those with language disabilities and developmental delays, benefit from activities that encourage integration of the right and left.
“The same neurological pathways that coordinate oral motor planning also coordinate gross motor planning,” Sutka said.
In the beginning, Warner focused on teaching the children, 3 to 5 years old, simple skills to improve balance, strength and coordination. He also worked on increasing their ability to focus and follow directions.
“They are learning basic control and becoming aware of each little movement their body can make,” Warner said.
The three-week, six-session martial arts program, funded through a $600 grant from the Stoughton Cultural Council, is reinforcing physical and emotional skills as well as incorporating pretend play and colors and numbers identification.
“He is making it developmentally appropriate and he understands what level these kids are at,” Sutka said.
The program has ended, but school staff “will be able to extend learning by reusing the methodologies and activities provided,” Sutka said.
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