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Movement programs have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to support the development of children with special educational needs. Advocates of these programs argue that they can improve physical coordination, cognitive function, and social-emotional well-being in children with a range of disabilities. We are raising the question, do movement programs really work?


What are movement programs?

Movement programs are structured activities that are designed to improve physical coordination, cognitive function, and social-emotional well-being for children with special educational needs. Activities solely depend on the type of program and your child’s abilities. However they can include activities such as:

  • Games exercises
  • Sports
  • Dance yoga
  • Martial arts


The benefits of Movement Programs:

There is growing evidence to suggest that movement programs can be highly beneficial for children with special educational needs. Take a look at some of the key benefits:


  • Improved physical fitness: They can help children improve their physical fitness by engaging in activities that promote cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility.


  • Enhanced motor skills: Children with SEN may struggle with fine or gross motor skills. Movement programs can provide targeted activities that help children develop these skills.


  • Improved balance: Children with conditions such as cerebral palsy may struggle with balance and coordination. Movement programs can provide exercises and activities that help improve these areas.


  • Improved social-emotional well-being: They can help them build confidence, develop social skills, and manage emotions.


  • Encourages crossing the midline: This supports learning skills and the child’s ability to attend and focus. Being able to cross the midline is a crucial developmental stage which should be encouraged through games and exercises


Looking for SEN support, take a look at our resource page


How do we know if movement programs really work?


There is a growing body of research that supports the effectiveness of movement programs for children with special educational needs. Studies have shown that programs can have a positive impact on the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional well-being of these children. For example, movement programs like yoga, martial arts and physical therapy interventions can improve social communication skills, attention, physical fitness, self-esteem, and gross motor function in children with SEN.

A systematic review published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology found that exercise interventions, including movement programs, can be effective in improving motor function and physical fitness in children with cerebral palsy. In addition, a meta-analysis published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities found that movement-based interventions can be effective in improving physical fitness and motor skills in children with autism. However, both authors noted that further research is needed the optimal intensity and the long-term effects of these interventions.


Choosing the right Movement Program for your child


When choosing a movement program for a child with special educational needs, here are some factors you need to consider:


  • Their age, stage, and developmental level of the child
  • The specific needs and abilities of the child
  • The goals of the program
  • The qualifications and experience of the instructors


It is important to choose a program that is evidence-based and has been shown to be effective for children with similar needs and abilities. It is also important to ensure that the program is delivered by qualified and experienced instructors. Doing so will ensure they can tailor the activities to the specific needs of the child.


Ensure you understand the goals of the program. If the goal is to improve physical fitness, a program that focuses on cardiovascular endurance and strength training may be more appropriate. With the goal to improve social-emotional well-being, a program that includes activities that promote social interaction and emotional regulation may be more beneficial. Take a look at welcome to write dance training.


Movement programs can be highly beneficial for children with SEN as they can improve children’s physical fitness, motor skills, balance, and social-emotional well-being. It’s also important to choose a program that works for your child’s specific needs and backed with sufficient evidence. In order for your child to benefit from Movement programs ensure you’re working with qualified and experienced instructors.




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