Magical Motor Skills

The development of our young ones in their early years certainly flashes before our eyes. One day it’s all hands and knee’s and the next we are speeding after them. Whilst a lot of this development is of course down to great parenting, we also have science to thank for the fast evolution of young children.

Motor skills are learned movements that the body produces. Even by the age of 4 months, your baby could be showing off their learned motor skills, rolling from side to side. For the rest of their lives, this is a movement they will know how to process in their brains, and therefore produce! Pretty amazing, hey? Motor skills can even be broken into two categories; gross and fine. As you might expect, gross describes the larger muscle movements such as running, jumping and crawling. Whereas fine describes smaller movements often involving the fingers or toes.

As children begin to grow bigger, as does their repertoire of motor skills. This development means they are able to start taking part in activities that will strengthen and develop these skills even further. This is because over time, basic motor skills such as walking, moving arms and shaking the head can combine to master more complex skills such as kicking and throwing.

Kicking is certainly an important motor skill to us here at SoccerDays, but as well as kicking, our exciting classes encourage young ones to build and develop a wide range of their motor skills such as running, jumping, changing direction and balancing.

As well as this, our fun and engaging activities develops spatial awareness, and build children’s confidence too.

Happy Christmas from everyone at SoccerDays

In the spirit of festive cheer, this week’s blog will make you shed a tear. The happy kind of tear, best appropriate at this time of year!  

What is to follow is hilarious, folks. Some good, old fashioned, football jokes. Share these jokes with your little ones to tell around the dinner table on Christmas day, there are plenty of crackers!

What kind of tea do football players drink?
Penal-TEA!

What is a ghost’s favourite football position?
Ghoul-Keeper

Why did Cinderella loose her place in the football team?
Because she ran away from the ball.

Football fan

How do football players stay cool during games?
They stand by the fans.

Why didn’t the dog want to play football?
It was a boxer.

When is a footballer like a baby?
When they dribble.

What is a goalkeeper’s favourite snack?
Beans on post.

Why do football players do so well in school?
They know how to use their heads.

Happy Christmas from everyone at SoccerDays. See you in the New Year!

Better Coordination Will Help Children Achieve At School

It is widely discussed how sport and physical activity can help improve young children’s social, emotional and physical health. Researchers at The University of Leeds recently led a study that digs even deeper than this. Just over 300 children aged 4-11 took part in the study that used computer-based tasks to measure their co-ordination and interceptive timing.

Hand-eye coordination benefits young children on a daily basis, whether it be doing buttons up on a school shirt or playing with a ball at break time. Scientists define it as the ability to do activities that require simultaneous use of our hands and eyes. If we’re getting really scientific about things; we use our eyes to detect a stimulus, helping the brain to understand where the body is located in space. Our hands then have the job to simultaneously carry out a task, based on the visual information our eyes have received.

Hand-Eye Coordination Benefits Children in The Classroom

Now, that’s enough of the technical stuff! Let’s break down how hand-eye coordination can really benefit our young ones in the classroom. Hand-eye coordination is used WHENEVER we write; our eyes are able to send the information to the brain to tell it where exactly our hand needs to go, and then move to generate desired shapes and lines. In an ever-growing digital world, typing on a keyboard is more of a norm than ever, with hand-eye coordination contributing to the ability to type with ease and success.

In the study led by researchers at The University of Leeds, children who performed better in tasks were on average, 9 months ahead educationally than those classmates who struggled in tasks. Professor Mon-Williams commented on this, saying that when a child shows good hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, they perform better when processing numbers. Not only this, they also tend to be more abstract thinkers.

How to Improve Your Child’s Coordination

There are many, many ways to help improve your child’s coordination, why not try some of these fun (and mostly free) activities:

  • Wheelbarrow walking: The adult holding the legs of the child whilst the child walks with their hands.
  • Swimming:When swimming the body must work against the resistance of the water, improving awareness of where the body is.
  • Kneeling: Whilst kneeling playing activities such as catch of trying to keep a balloon off the floor..
  • Hopscotch: Transferring weight from one leg to two and then back again means movement is changing frequently.
  • Stepping stone: Encourages big jumps from item to item to improve balance.
  • Bike and scooter: Both requiring the child to work with balance.
  • SoccerDays Football Class: A wide range of fun and exciting activities and football classes for toddlers that your little one will LOVE… (How couldn’t we…)

Street Child World Cup

Once again, football has been used as a tool to unite nations, coming together to celebrate culture and talent around the world.

From reading the first line you may have thought this blog was about the upcoming World Cup – but you’d be wrong! Prior to the World Cup commencing on 14th June, the Street Child World Cup has recently taken place in Moscow.

Helping Street Children Around the Globe

The Street Child World Cup is not as well-known as it should be. Supported by Save The Children, the organisation was formed in the hope to use the power of football to raise awareness and tackle widespread stigma that is associated with street children around the globe. It is thought that through the event, countries, governments and communities would be inspired to better protect and respect street connected children for years to come.

At this year’s event, which took place throughout May, 23 countries competed against each other for the title of champions. However, it is more important to note that above all, these 23 countries competed together to bring justice and support for those children that suffer from life on the streets. Not only did these inspirational young people show their talent on the football pitch, but they also shared their wise words and opinions in A General Assembly, where one representative from each country spoke about their experiences on the streets. Captain of Team Nepal, Roshan, shared his experiences with audiences that included FIFA World Cup winner Gilberto Silva. Roshan explained that himself and his teammates have been attacked as criminals, yet “today we have an identity as national players. We are the change, we are the voice.”

Results of The Street Child World Cup 2018

The Street Child World Cup has certainly been an exciting place to be in the past few weeks, with the Brazil girls taking home the trophy in the ladies’ pool and Uzbekistan boys in a close final against Pakistan in the men’s pool. Our own England Girls team reached the semi-finals, but unfortunately lost out to Tanzania by just one goal.

Centrepoint UK – The UK’s Leading Youth Homeless Charity

Centrepoint UK are a charity that help to form the Street Child Football teams here in the UK. Centrepoint is also the UK’s leading youth homeless charity, supporting more than 10,000 homeless people each year. Centrepoint work hard to provide shelter and support for those on the streets in England. As well as on the pitch action, the youngsters have been involved with art exhibition and inspirational talks.

If The Street Child World Cup is something that inspires you, find out how you can get behind the charity online here and for footage from this year’s Cup, take a look at the organisation’s YouTube channel here.

Together at SoccerDays and through sport we can continue to spread the message of unity and acceptance of all, no matter what circumstances. If you would like to introduce your little ones to the world of football, we would encourage you to come along to one of our football classes for toddlers, designed to help improve skills, confidence and social skills!

Football Parties for Kids

Sweet 16 parties are are elaborate and costly – and are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, we see our children attending a complete mix bag of exciting and diverse birthday parties from a much younger age, including go-karting, discos, pool parties and days out.

Oh to be a child again, with no worries in the world and non-stop parties on the social calendar. As a parent it can certainly feel like your little one’s social life is over-taking your own, but with such choice on offer it is hard to see why it wouldn’t be. Whether your child be an animal lover, a pamper queen or a keen footballer, there seems to be children’s parties to fit all bills. Bringing your child’s favourite cartoon character to them for their fifth birthday party is certainly a moment you probably will not forget as their smile beams from east to west.

Themed Children’s Birthday Parties

In more recent years, themed children’s birthday parties have become a popular venture for entrepreneurs, consequently making it fiercely competitive. Themed birthday parties can be as extravagant or as unique as you want – popular themed parties include princess parties, spa parties, trampoline parks and a cupcake decorating party!

With such a breadth on offer, it can be hard to choose just what party will put a smile on lots of little faces.

Over the pond, there have been stories of parents installing ice rinks in their own homes just to satisfy their child’s birthday needs. However, here at SoccerDays, we see no reason to make such a grand gesture and take pride in our somewhat smaller yet just as fun birthday parties!

Book A SoccerDays Football Birthday Party

Our football birthday parties are for children aged 3-7 years, involving fun-filled party games, music, competitions and lots of prizes!

Catering for up to 25 children, two of our amazing FA qualified coaches will bring you all the quality coaching from our classes with some extra thrill & a sprinkle of magic to give your child a birthday they will never forget.

Boys and girls will have the best time at our football birthday parties, with prizes and goodies for everyone – no child will go home empty handed! We have plenty of party games to play, including Footballs & Statues, Footy Favourites, Frantic Fans and Greatest Goals. We’ll end the party with a football competition and a well-deserved presentation with certificates, prize giving and a special SoccerDays birthday medal for the birthday child!

Read our birthday fact sheet for more information on turning your child’s dream birthday into a reality!

Here To Stick Around

It is easy to overlook stickers as something we give to amuse our little ones for a moment’s peace and quiet. For something so simple, easy and cheap, stickers bring more to the development of young children than first meets the eye.

A bright and eye-catching stimulus, the sticker comes in a range of different formats. If you walk into a local supermarket or toy store, it is likely you can find a sticker for just about any childhood interest. With stickers coming in the shape of dinosaurs, burgers, fire engines and tiara’s, they are definitely catering to the masses.

Reasons Why Every Child Should Play with Stickers

Playing with stickers can help children develop so many skills, not forgetting stickers can help to bring big smiles to the faces of kids of all ages!

For some children, stickers can help to improve their grasp. Stickers can be really fiddly to use, so teaching children how to hold a sheet and peel back something fiddly is a skill worth learning. Stickers also encourage bilateral hand coordination skills for many functional tasks, including zipping up a coat and cutting with scissors. Stickers also encourage sensory exploration, including discovering textures of smooth, scratchy and fuzzy.

Children need strength in the small muscles of their hands to carry out tasks such as holding a pencil and doing up buttons, so with stickers being as small as they are, children can build up their strength with the fiddly activity.

Developing Skills at A Young Age

In order to grow and develop as a child, it is essential that the environment around us stimulate the brain. If we delve into the science side of things, connections between brain cells develop extensively up to the age of 5. These connections are called synapses. Medical evidence suggests that a child’s later intelligence is heavily based around the synapses they have developed at an earlier stage in life. Stickers have been told to help develop these connections as collecting and playing with them leads children to think about colour correlations and sizing of the stickers, they may then progress onto ordering these and creating their own logic in their mind. In addition to this, fine motor skills will be developed. Fine motor skills are produced through small movements in the hands, fingers and wrists. Familiarising pupils with their use of these at a young age could help them to develop skills such as handwriting quicker upon starting school.

Some stickers will even develop the sensory exploration of children as they have refined surfaces that may feel or appear different on the eye.

Panini Football Stickers

Furthermore, stickers such as the Panini Football Stickers not only help to develop skills at a young age but also help to develop the child’s knowledge on the topic.

A 7-year-old who can reel off football players names, ages and clubs in which they play for is pretty impressive; especially when they have processed this information themselves through playing with stickers!

Lastly, we must not forget the joy of using stickers as a reward. Receiving a tangible reward is exciting for children as they can visually see and touch the pride of their parents. Rewarding them with stickers as opposed to time on a tablet or computer can help them to value their own attitude and behaviour in a positive way and not take things for granted: they’re here to stick around.

Football Classes for Toddlers

Develop your child’s skills further at one of our football classes for toddlers, designed to develop essential skills including communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional skills.

Book a free trial today with no obligation – we look forward to seeing you at a football class with SoccerDays soon!

Disney FA Girls’ Football Week – FA For Girls

As part of the FA’s Gameplan For Growth, this month see’s the second annual Girl’s Football Week. In a bid to inspire and encourage young girls to become more active, the FA have teamed up with Disney to bring some sparkle to the pitch and celebrate girls in football. Football classes with SoccerDays are targeted to increase participation within young girls.

Disney Inspired Football Sessions

Enlisting qualified coaches to lead Disney inspired sessions, the FA hope to involve girls of all abilities. At the forefront of the campaign are the bold, inspiring and determined characters including Moana, Repunzel and Judy Hopps, all best known for taking their destiny into their own hands. Through a range of interesting and exciting activities, young girls will be inspired by the profound confidence of these Disney characters. Furthermore, opening up opportunities may help young girls explore avenues they have not done before and ignite their dreams no matter what they may be.

Why attend the Disney Inspired Football Sessions?

Kelly Simmons, The FA participation and development director praises the project immensely, stating that the project hopes to make football “relevant and attractive” for young girls by ensuring every session is “inspiring and fun”

Packs are currently being distributed to schools, clubs and homes nationwide and for all those that participate, a 20% discount voucher is also being rewarded.

Experiences with Disney and the FA

This is just another step Disney are taking to promote a commitment to healthy living through the use of their characters. In the lead up to the event, they have released a short film based on the three inspiring young girls from Coalville Town Football Club and how they have displayed the strong and determined traits of our much loved Disney characters. See the short film below

Furthermore, the lucky lioness’ were given a treat as on a recent trip to Orlando they had the opportunity to meet the likes of Minnie Mouse and explore the Magic Kingdom.

Jill Scott, one of only 10 players to have earned 100 caps for the lioness’ has got behind girls football week. Scott, 31, insists that “Women’s football is just getting bigger and better and it’s a privilege to be a part of it, especially during weeks like this.”

How can young children get involved?

Boasting an impressive career, Scott want’s to inspire as many young girls as possible to take the leap of faith and drive for success in football, even running her own football camps to do just this.

The week long initiative will hope to inspire girls not only for the week, but for life long participation in a sport that is loved by many. If you are interested to find out more about SoccerDays and sign up please follow the link below http://www.fagirlsfootballweek.com/

Winning or Losing

The age-old argument of whether young children should participate in competitive sports is one that ruffles a lot of feathers. An opinion that is very much divided, how do we decide if our little ones should be facing the trials and tribulations of winning or losing at such a young age?
Of course, winning and losing is not only encountered through sport and it is likely that even in the most innocent of play situations at pre-school or clubs, your children are already experiencing one of these.

Despite the popular, “it’s the taking part that counts”, Sports Psychologist Amanda Hills makes an interesting point to suggest that not exposing children to competition at an early age does not set them up for life because life itself is competitive. It is important that children learn to lose, as well as win. Hills goes on to express that winning should be celebrated as for some children sport is the only opportunity for them to thrive and succeed.

Handling winning and losing in the correct manner

It is fair to say that competition should be handled in the correct way, so not to deter participation. If the activity that young children are participating in is fun, exciting and engaging, what harm is then coming from teaching children the principles of winning and losing? Frequently asked questions usually involve the positive and negative experiences in competitive sport, especially for children who are of a younger age. At SoccerDays we understand that these experiences may shape a child’s perception and feeling towards the given activity, therefore a balance and how these experiences are handled are important to give a holistic and fair experience to the child.

With a naïve mind, there is a fear of children becoming ‘obsessed’ with winning, and it is vital to ensure that your child does not view every aspect of life as a competition as it could put a strain on their own self-esteem and certainly their capabilities of socialising. Emphasizing that ‘doing your best’ is the outcome that your child should seek as opposed to ‘winning at all costs’ will help avoid behaviour such as cheating or being a ‘sore loser’. How you speak with your child after they have participated in an activity can also shape how they view winning or losing. Closed questions such as ‘did you win?’ put a tight pressure on children to say yes or no. Instead we advise parents to open-up their questions to find out from our young ones about what they learnt or what they found fun about the activity, we are encouraging them to review their whole experience as opposed to just the outcome. Football is not always competitive either. At SoccerDays we organise Football Parties for Kids which are filled with fun and exciting activities!

As parents we all want our children to enjoy and thrive at life, we can support them in this by advocating the importance of both winning and loosing. Teaching children to follow rules will install a democratic element in their personality, helping to set goals for our children gives them something to strive and want to achieve. Team work is a fantastic skill to teach children, being part of a team gives them a sense of belonging, that way they can work together to meet a goal or outcome. A variation of activity choice demonstrates to young children that not everything relates to winning or losing, and simply enjoying something will in turn make them happy. If you and your child are interested in our programmes, find a class and book with us today!

Give Your Child A Kick-Start in Life with SoccerDays

If this has inspired you to let your child into the competitive world of football, we have various football classes for toddlers and children available in many locations that they can get involved with. SoccerDays offer 45 minutes of football provided by high quality football coaches! Find your nearest venue and book a trial today!

The Love of Sport Seems to Have No Limit

The love of sport seems to have no limit. People in all corners of the world celebrate and share a compelling enthusiasm for sport, despite any barriers that may seem to get in the way. Along with the help of medicine, science and technology, sport is no longer just something that able-bodied people can thrive in. Events such as the Paralympics have brought to light the wealth of opportunity on offer for people in adapted sports and has put the rich talent that these sports own at the forefront of this.

Adapted Sport

There is something certainly quite uplifting and warming about seeing that despite barriers – be it physical, emotional, economical or geographical, sport has the power to offer ever-growing opportunity. These days, football is not just a grass pitch with two goals but also a ball containing a bell, using crutches as a balance aid & adapted rules for those with learning difficulties.

Success of The Paralympic Games

Just recently, England took to the pitch at the CP (Cerebral Palsy) World Games and left the competition in 4th place after a defeat to Russia.

The successes don’t stop there for England’s adapted football teams. Smashing through to the final, England Deaf Futsal team beat Denmark & Slovakia to be crowned champions of their group.

If ever there was a role model, He Yiyi of China paints the perfect portrait. As an amputee, Yiyi has stunned thousands with his epic performance on the pitch, using crutches to manoeuvre around. Since his surgery 9 years ago, the young lad has worn out 27 pairs of crutches for the love of football. Yiyi embodies the thrive and passion for the sport with his unstoppable nature.

Every 4 years the Paralympics hosts the game for visually impaired footballers, these players use a smaller sized football that is heavier and contains a ball. Players are assigned to 1 of 3 categories based on their visual impairment. B1 is for those who are totally or almost blind, B2 contains players who are partially sighted and can recognised shapes. Lastly, B3 is the category for those with most vision. This year, England B1 team will be competing in The ISBA Blind Football World Champions, having previously come 3rd in the European competition.

The success of these athletes is clearly very evident, and certainly gives the England Football Team a run for their money. These athletes solely embody how if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to do it!

Being Healthy A to Z

Leading on from our previous blog post about the mental health benefits that exercise brings to young ones, this week we are exploring the physical health benefits that giving your children a healthy, active, lifestyle brings.

It is hard to believe that the word “obese” can be used to describe a child so early on in their life, however new figures from the NHS display that in 2015, more than 1 in 5 children in reception were classed as obese.  As figures increase year on year, and as children get older, preventing obesity from a young age is vital.

It is no old wife’s tale that leading an active, healthy balanced lifestyle is crucial to remain fit and healthy. It does not need to be intimidating, time consuming or expensive to engage your little one in an active lifestyle and our simple A-Z gets down to the nitty-gritty of this!

A to Z of Being Healthy

A – Activities. There is certainly no shortage of activities in this day and age. Whether this be a Sunday morning trip to the park or attending a football class once a week, giving your child this routine with exercise will help them assume it should be a part of their lifestyle moving forward.

B – Bananas. You can’t beat a good banana. Give your child a banana as a snack before they are off running around to increase their energy; much better than those sugary snacks.

C – Clubs. Clubs are a great way to meet new friends and stay active in a fun way. There are multiple free clubs for young children to join and enjoy.

D –  Dinner. Asking your young one to join you to make their dinner will begin to familiarise them with different food groups and healthy eating ideas.

E – Excitement. All parents are aware that young ones are full of beans, so what better way to blow out this excitement than enjoying activities and exercise with friends.

F – Friendship. Brilliant friendships are formed through sport – particularly team games!

G – Guidelines. Knowing the general guidelines for food consumption for your child can help with portion control and understanding what nutrients they need. Currently, the government recommends that a growing 1-6-year-old consumers 1300-1800 calories per day.

H – Healthy eating. This one is a given, teaching your child what foods will make them tick will give them confidence and a positive approach towards food into adulthood.

I – Iron. An iron deficiency is common in young children. Ensuring they are having substantial iron intake will mean that your young ones have more energy and in turn perform better in sport.

J – Junk Foods. With small growing bodies, this is something to try and avoid. Everyone is guilty of giving their children some junk food, however it is important not to make this part of their daily routine.

K – Kids. Although it is important to do all we can to help our children, it is important to remember they are still KIDS! They will want chocolate, they will fall over and hurt themselves. But it is all character building.

L – Low levels of activity. Only 23% of girls age 5-7 meet the recommended activity levels in England (World Health Organisation). This sedentary lifestyle is mirrored by problems in nutrition and diet also.

M – Milk! No matter what some experts may say, milk is good for the bones of growing children.

N – New skills. Just letting your child play and freely run around will help them to build new skills independently and with confidence.

O – Opportunities. Giving your child new opportunities will help them to explore what they enjoy, trying out a variety of activities is easy and as simple as sticking your favourite CD on and seeing how good your little one’s dance moves are.

P – Posture. Exercise from a young age can help promote a good posture, hopefully combating injuries and pains later on in life.

Q – Quinoa. Not many words start with Q. Quinoa does. However, do not panic. You do not need to start feeding your children the ultimate health food just yet.

R – Running. The first motor skill your child tends to learn. Unless you have a mini David Beckham on your hands who may be kicking before he runs. Running is simple, just let your child do it until they run out of steam.

S – Stress. Relieve your own stress by resting assured that your little one is healthy and active.

T – Time. Giving time to active experiences as a family such as walks or going to the local swimming pool is far more valuable than time spend in front of a screen for both your child’s health and your family life.

U – Under 5. Recommendations for young ones under 5 from the NHS state that they should not be inactive for long periods of time except when sleeping. Light activities include walking around and less energetic play. More energetic activities for under 5s include riding a bike, skipping and climbing.

V – Victory. Raising a young, fit and healthy child is the biggest victory for any parent. Be on your way to victory by starting today!

W – Whole family. Involving the whole family in an active lifestyle will be a driver to involve your children in sports.

X –  XXL. The clothing size you want to avoid buying for your children.

Y – Youth. After all, the youth of today are the future so helping them to be active and healthy is of upmost importance.

Z – Zooming. Exactly what you want to see your little ones doing. Here, there and everywhere.

Get Active Today!

The possibilities are endless in bringing your child a healthy, active lifestyle. Kick-start them in the right direction today with our handy guide!

If you would like to get your child(ren) involved in more sports, why not book in to one of our football classes for toddlers? We even have trial offers where your little one can have 45 minutes of fun for free, so you can make sure the class is right for you and your little one!