How Physical Education Affects the Development and Success of Children with Special Educational Needs
The paper investigates physical education and its positive impact on children who have special educational needs. The literature review relating to the topic issue of the paper emphasizes the fact that physical education and physical exercises produce positive changes in children with special educational needs. The researches in this field suggest an idea that constant and systematic physical education is favorable for the development of the children’s cognitive abilities. In addition, physical education provides the necessary conditions for the development of the educational capacities and makes children more open and sociable. Therefore, the application of physical exercises at the level, which is suitable for a particular child, is positive and helps children to easier develop and gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Thus, proper implementation of the physical activities in the life of children with the special educational needs precipitates and enhances their development.
How Physical Education Affects the Development and Success of Children with Special Educational Needs
Scientists recognize the fact that exercise can have a positive effect on various systems of the children’s body and favorably influence its mental state; therefore, one of the components of a culture of health is represented in the form of the motor system of a person. This problem is especially acute for children with special educational needs. In the scientific and legal meaning, children with special educational needs are those individuals, who have deviations at the mental or physical level causing violations of general development, thereby preventing them from living a normal life. The physical education provided to children with special educational needs should possess certain aspects. Among the most crucial ones are the formation of an institution for preserving and strengthening health, development of the skills needed to lead a healthy and safe way of life, increase in an interest in physical culture and sports, emphasis on the need for systematic physical education and accessible sports (athletics, gymnastics, and ski training). In addition, education should trigger the improvement of motor qualities, correction of shortcomings in the cognitive sphere, psychomotor development, development and improvement of volitional, educational of moral qualities and properties of the individual, and the development of the perception of their own body and its features. The reason is that a child with special educational needs requires a special approach. Therefore, physical education produces a positive impact on children with special educational needs, as it provides them with the necessary physiological impulses, which precipitate the development of the socializing skills.
Effective management of the formation of a child’s personality is impossible without a deep knowledge of psychological patterns that can explain the specific features of child development at different stages of life. According to the study by Terzi (2005), such features and regularities in relation to the social rehabilitation of children with special educational needs are closely connected both with the need for social adaptation and psychological assistance. In addition, they presuppose comprehensive work in the sphere of physical education and children’s cognition and their connection. In this case, as Terzi (2005) states, it is necessary to take into account that physical training provided to children with special educational needs is impossible without considering the patterns of personal and mental development. In this case, social and rehabilitation activities will be comprehensive and effective. An analysis of the process of physical education of children with special educational needs shows that a specific orientation in working with this category should be premised on corrective-compensatory features, which determine the significance of the entire process of physical education. Terzi (2005) also emphasizes that the experience of working with children with special educational needs and observations indicate the need for the increased motor activity. Correction of physical development disorders as well as motor skills and expansion of motor abilities are key elements required to prepare a child for life.
Diagnosis and recording of motor abilities of a child with special educational needs as well as characteristics of motor special educational needs give the opportunity to formulate and substantiate scientific and methodological concepts of teaching physical education and sports. Herein, Zuriff (2007) stresses the importance of correctional pedagogy system, which emphasizes the important role of the motor analyzer in the development of higher nervous activity and mental functions of a person. In fact, the system makes it possible to intromit the issue of pragmatism. Thus, according to the study by Zuriff (2007), from the pragmatic point of view, the violations in fine motor skills manifested in the form of a differentiated movement of the fingers as well as coordination of movements of the hands and feet during walking are associated with the operation of the same mechanisms as the intellectual defect. Specifically, as Zuriff (2007) claims, it is a violation of the analytical and synthetic activity of the cortex of the cerebral hemispheres which is associated with the organic pathology of the cortical zones of the motor kinesthetic analyzer. In the final analysis, all these factors determine the primacy of motor disorders in the general structure of the child’s abnormal mental development. Thus, applying the concepts of pragmatism, the key conclusion is that the elimination of special educational needs as well as their improvement contributes to the development of the analytic-synthetic function of the cerebral cortex, thereby negatively affecting the human intellect.
It is also necessary to consider the features of children that have various reasons behind their limited educational opportunities. Therefore, according to the study by Da Silva, Goldberg, Teixeira and Marques (2004), the children with special educational needs in mental development are quickly fatigued. In addition, as a rule, they are characterized by sharp fluctuations in efficiency and low stability of the emotional-volitional sphere. In fact, such changes are often associated with the inadequate development of other motor abilities and the general state of physical fitness. Moreover, the authors claim that the physical education is considered as a means of optimizing the physical status of a person at the expense of intellectual and socio-psychological development, which can significantly limit one’s opportunities (Da Silva et al., 2004). Furthermore, the scholars have a strong conviction that children with special educational needs also require the holistic formation of personality (Da Silva et al., 2004). At the same time, the lack of clarity in understanding the mechanisms for implementing a joint solution to the problems of physical improvement is the reason behind scientists’ decision to develop the motor activity of children (Da Silva et al., 2004). It is vital to use a standard narrow set of physical education. It should be noted that children with special educational needs in health have, in contrast to the healthy ones, some changes in the functioning of internal organs and well-being, which also affect their mental state (Da Silva et al., 2004). The study is particularly significant, as it states that one of the tools that can improve the mental and physical state of children is a system of adaptive physical culture, the purpose of which is to form the needs for exercise, health promotion, increased endurance and disability, and the system of intellectual and mental development.
Currently, all the existing forms of physical education, which are intended for people with special educational needs of various age and groups, are associated with physical education, namely rhythm. They include lessons in physical education that are related to forms of adaptive physical education that are widely known as classes on adaptive physical education. The study by Cambra and Silvestre (2003) states that the physical development on the basis of this assessment, according to the method of indices, is conducted in groups of children with mental retardation and mental retardation as well as those suffering from the consequences of cerebral palsy. The analysis of the results shows that in most of the children in these groups, the anthropometric indicators are at the level of the lower limit or below the age norm. According to the measurements made by Cambra and Silvestre (2003), there is a progression with age in physical development, weakness of the musculoskeletal system, narrowness of the thorax, and low physical possibilities. Therefore, an increase in emotional stability and a sense of control over one’s body and surrounding space is the key to greater emotional stability, physical well-being, and predictability of behavior, which will affect the child’s social adaptation (Cambra & Silvestre, 2003). Regular physical education classes for children with autism spectrum disorder contribute to stimulation of all organs and basic functional systems of the child’s body, including the brain, thereby producing a beneficial effect on the functional adaptation of children to increasing physical and mental stress (Cambra & Silvestre, 2003). Evidently, the skeletal musculature and all internal organs are connected through the central nervous system (Cambra & Silvestre, 2003). Pulses from the nerve endings that are embedded in the muscles, ligaments and tendons come to the brain, which transmits them to the internal organs (Cambra & Silvestre, 2003). If the muscular system is developed enough, muscle tone is at the appropriate level. Contrariwise, if the muscles are poorly developed and the level of motor activity is low, impulses of a lower frequency are transmitted, which leads to the deterioration in the activity of the brain and internal organs (Cambra & Silvestre, 2003). Therefore, today, there is no other effective means of improving the work of the body than doing physical training.
Repeated physical exercise with the right dosage and methodological sequence leads to the improvement of the forms and functions of the human body, strengthen health, shape and improve motor skills, and promote spiritual development. According to the study by Johnson, Hennessy, Smith, Trikic, Wolke and Marlow (2009), physical exercises have a positive effect on mental processes. Accordingly, they develop a sense of balance, visual sensations and educational and cognitive capacities of children. The speed and direction of movement are recognized. Moreover, physical exercises develop a perception of the surrounding reality, space, and time (Johnson et al., 2009). In the process of systematic performance of physical exercises, ideas about the speed of movement, strength, dexterity, strong-willed effort, and spatial sensations are accumulated. Furthermore, physical exercises contribute to the development of imagination, thinking and other forms of higher mental activity (Johnson et al., 2009). The process of creative imagination, for example, takes place in a complex combination game. Organized collective physical exercises are an important factor in the development of not only physical abilities but also moral and strong-willed qualities (Johnson et al., 2009). Physical exercises are always associated with manifestations of will and serve as one of the main means of improving it.
Conscious and active attitude towards lessons, participation in team games and competitions contribute to the development of discipline, observance of the order of the exercises and rules of behavior in the team, sense of honor and duty, mutual assistance, mutual support, a sense of collectivism, and development of initiative. As Lloyd (2002) and Kalambouka, Farrell, Dyson and Kaplan (2008) believe, by means of systematic exercise, physical training precipitates the development of organization, accuracy, rational posture, smartness, beautiful gait as well as ensures compliance with the rules of personal and public hygiene and established standards of conduct. In most children of this category, the deviations in physical development are reflected in the stability of the vertical posture, the preservation of balance and the ability to measure and regulate their movements. The use of physical and pedagogical exercises of an applied nature contributes to the elimination of lag and disturbances in psychomotor development as well as development of attention, imagination, strong-willed qualities and an increase in emotional tone. It is important to remember that such exercises play a substantial role in the development of spatial orientation and the ability to work in a team. In regard to the shortcomings of the management of the movements of these children, first of all, violations of their neuropsychic activity are manifested. The ease and economy of performing movements is mainly dependent on the correct dosage of muscular effort.
The value of exercises in the ability to control movements is that they induce pupils to active mental activity. In accordance with the study by and Vicente-Rodr´iguez (2006), children must clearly perceive both the movements themselves and the results of movements, establish a causal relationship between the nature of the movement and its outcome, and make the appropriate adjustments for the improvement of subsequent movements. As a result, this not only contributes to the development of the function of the motor apparatus but also improves the neuropsychic processes by means of which an expedient organization of motor actions in children with intellectual special educational needs is performed (Vicente-Rodr´iguez, 2006). Universality of exercises with the ball lies in their variety of impacts not only on the fine motor skills but also on the whole spectrum of coordination abilities, the eye measure, the muscular feeling, the differentiation of effort and space, without which it is impossible to master the letter, many domestic, labor, and sports skills (Vicente-Rodr´iguez, 2006). Herein, the study by Male and May (1997) stresses the fact that the universality to the exercises also provides better results in regard to educational skills, as they deliver more diversity in the children’s lives. The individualization of dosages, not only within the class but also in relation to a concrete student, who has new opportunities in the process of training, becomes crucial in realizing the tasks of physical education.
The effectiveness of learning activities is determined not only by the level of physical education achieved but also by the acquired level of physical development. Similarly, to the study by Vicente-Rodr´iguez (2006), the research by Neel, Meadows, Levine and Edgar (1988) stresses the fact that the rational organization of the pedagogical process of mastering knowledge and action systems must be accompanied by an increase in the indicators of physical development. Cognitive activity in teaching creates the most favorable attitude for studying new material as well as contributes to the assimilation of knowledge and the formation of skills (Neel et al., 1988). The teacher also improves the effectiveness of the educational process. At the core of the creative activity of students, interest is placed not so much on the motor activity but on its results. Therefore, an effective means of activating learners is to formulate a specific training goal before each lesson. After completing a series of exercises devoted to the learning of motor action, the scholars show by example of two or three students how the achievements of the diligent have grown and the way they stalled in the lazy, which is formally related to the fulfillment of tasks (Neel et al., 1988). The creation of favorable conditions for exercising, compulsory attraction of all students to physical training classes, competently delivered extra-curricular sporting and recreational work, widespread use of ‘small forms’ of physical education, and observance of basic rules and principles of instruction will allow physical education teachers to effectively solve the problems facing their tasks.
When doing physical exercises, the child’s body begins to work in a special mode, namely the nervous and musculoskeletal systems establish close interaction. Herein, Van Luit and Schopman (2000) fairly claim that any action performed by the muscles is first practiced in the nervous system, i.e. a program is created to perform this action. The brain plans the sequence of muscle contraction as well as the frequency, strength and amplitude of these contractions, among others. Thus, every physical act triggers powerful work in the nervous system, and physical activity activates mental development. Therefore, the work on the physical development of the child should be organized regularly and systematically (Van Luit & Schopman, 2000). The significance of this work is even greater when talking about children with special educational needs (Van Luit & Schopman, 2000). The use of the exercises presented above will contribute not only to the physical development of children of this category but also to the correction of the insufficiency of their mental sphere. In this work, parents should be given a leading role.
The game is one of the main activities of children. In the childhood, the game is the leading activity, a necessary condition for the comprehensive development of children and one of the main means of their education and training. The study by Morley, Bailey, Tan and Cooke (2005) underlines the fact that in the process of the game, favorable conditions are created for the formation, development and improvement of the child’s mental processes as well as the formation of their personality. It is difficult to overestimate the benefits of mobile and sports games for children. During active movement, breathing, blood circulation and metabolic processes in the body are activated (Morley et al., 2005). In addition, mobile and sports games develop coordination of movements, quick reaction and attention, and train strength and endurance and remove impulsiveness. In the process of these games, children learn to obey the general rules and act in the team; they build and develop such qualities as honesty, justice, discipline, while developing a sense of empathy and a desire to help each other (Morley et al., 2005). Through the game, a child with special educational needs can solve the following correction-development tasks (Morley et al., 2005). Among the most principal ones are the development of the motor sphere, including fine motor skills, development of the cognitive activity of a child with special educational needs, enrichment of the perception of the world, formation of communication skills, development of the emotional-volitional sphere, and formation of cultural behavior skills (Morley et al., 2005). Observations and practical experience show that it is crucial for schoolchildren with special educational needs to increase their motor activity. The correction of violations of educational/cognitive skills and needs, motor skills and expansion of motor abilities of such children are the main condition for preparing them for life. Games occupy a significant place in the life of the child. With the help of games, children with developmental disorders experience the expansion of motor activity, which becomes not simply chaotic but acquires meaning (Morley et al., 2005). A properly designed game helps children with special educational needs meet the natural need for communication, emotional contact with other children and adults, expands the child’s motor ability and their individual response to physical activity. In regard to the point of specialists on the aspect, it is especially necessary to widely use mobile and sports games for the lesson, the main content of which is the formation and development of motor skills as well as the promotion of the development of power, speed, coordination and other abilities (Morley et al., 2005). In pedagogical practice, games are widely used not only to solve the tasks of motor actions but also those related to the general physical preparedness of pupils and to correct deviations in the state of children’s health. Simultaneously, mobile and sports games can serve as an effective factor in the education of positive, moral and strong-willed qualities. The use of mobile and sports games can be rational only if there are specific conditions in which the game is played (Morley et al., 2005). The effectiveness of physical exercises and games to correct motor disorders and physical development deficiencies is emphasized in the works of many scientists (Morley et al., 2005). It is necessary to note that the lack of movement in children is the cause of the weakening of the entire body, which affects the reduction of its overall biological stability (Morley et al., 2005). The organization of a variety of mobile and sports games and other physical exercises in the open air plays a special role in the prevention of respiratory diseases (Morley et al., 2005). It has been established that in systematic studies the number of respiratory diseases (tonsillitis, bronchitis, posture of children, and the weight of many children is reduced).
A positive impact of mobile and sports games is expressed not only in physical development but also in the development of kindness, concentration, and self-confidence. Movable games provide quick recovery from mental work. Apparently, such approach is better to be perceived in light of critical theory. According to this theory and the study by Dewey (1938), it is especially important for children with special educational needs in health status. Thus, mobile and sports games are simply necessary for children with special educational needs, as they develop coordination, beneficially influencing the vestibular apparatus, stimulate blood circulation, strengthen the cardiovascular system, promote saturation of body cells with oxygen, increase brain activity, and teach the child to concentrate and pay attention to a specific issue. However, the most important aspect is that they stimulate the development of cognitive capacities of a child. It is also possible to understand that games create an atmosphere of joy, thereby being the most effective solution to health and educational tasks. If the critical theory is applied in such a way, physical education can make a great contribution to the development of children with special educational needs. A cheerful mood is accompanied by physiological changes in the body (breathing, blood circulation, and metabolic processes are activated) as well as has a positive effect on the state of the child’s nervous system and promotes verbal development, which is especially valuable for children with special educational needs. These positive physical indexes make contribution to the motivation and desire of a child to study. In addition to this, the cognition of children with the special educational needs is bettering, and children show higher educational results.
Games and physical exercises, being a powerful means of influencing the body, expand the range of possibilities primarily of the motor sphere broken by a persistent defect. There are many examples, which prove that with the help of physical exercises and games, special training speech disorders are corrected. According to the book by Curren (2007), children with intellectual problems master complex gymnastic programs so that blind people begin to orientate confidently in space. Having applied the ideas by Plato and Locke located in the book by Curren (2007), it is possible to establish that children with severe consequences of infantile cerebral paralysis after swimming begin for the first time and to say, chained to a wheelchair master high sportsmanship in different sports. For the children with special educational needs, the main tasks of implementing adaptive physical culture are the following.
In order to achieve the global goals of adaptive physical culture and sports, constant psychological support of children with special educational needs is necessary. For its success, a large role is played by tracking and recording their abilities and personal characteristics. According to Gutek (2014), they comprise volitional qualities, emotional responses, communicative skills, leadership inclinations, stress resistance, personality orientation, motivation for various types of activity, the level of claims, temperament, and others. To follow all the changes, one can use strictly formalized methods of diagnostics such as observation, surveys, interview, questionnaires, tests, and projective method (Gutek, 2014). An in-depth psychodiagnostic examination can be conducted by a special psychologist, explaining to the teacher on adaptive physical culture or the coach the individual characteristics of the children, which would need to be taken into account in the work. In addition, the psychologist of the educational organization or the system of additional education should continue to provide psychological support on a regular basis, solving emerging problems, preventing possible difficulties or preparing pupils for them (Gutek, 2014). In fact, this applies to conflict situations between children, between a teacher/coach and students/pupils, a decrease in motivation for activity, negative behavioral manifestations, and others. However, not only the psychologist but also the educator in adaptive physical culture or the trainer must provide psychological accompaniment of children with special educational needs, with which they work, starting with a diagnostic study (Gutek, 2014). It is necessary to create a psychologically comfortable atmosphere for pupils, namely to support, explain everything calmly, be patient, restrained in manifesting negative emotions, and show respect for children. In addition, it is necessary not to raise voice, not to apply physical influences, stimulate their independence and activity, conduct positive reinforcement of desirable actions, not to create tension and unambiguous attitudes to compulsory victory (Gutek, 2014). It is necessary to create success situations for children with low self-esteem, insecure in themselves and their own strengths, anxious, with reduced will-power processes (Gutek, 2014). Talking about those with high self-esteem and an inadequately high level of aspiration, it is necessary to organize situations for children to assess themselves and their abilities (Gutek, 2014). It is necessary to increase the motivation for classes by showing positive results of children, encouraging them to evoke interest in sports activities as a process that delivers moral and physical pleasure, and introducing special interesting ‘rituals’ at the beginning and end of the session (perhaps, game assignments), surprises, promotion cards (stickers, chips, asterisks, and others). It necessary to be tactful and avoid evaluative judgments towards the pupils as well as do not insult or humiliate them (even in case of their behavioral problems or failure in sports activities). It is necessary to be calm, balanced, moderately strict and demanding, consistent, wise, simply to be an example for pupils, namely an interesting, active, purposeful, and cheerful person. It is impossible to tolerate manifestations of anger and aggression as well as negative emotional outbursts.
There exists a study on the lack of benefits of games and their impact on the educational skills of a child. The research by Male and May (1997) demonstrates the fact that games are not always positive for vulnerable categories of children. Thus, physical education should not be premised only on the games in regard to children with special educational needs. Herein, the study by Male and May (1997) emphasizes the fact that the universality of the exercises also produces better results for the educational skills, as they deliver more diversity in the children’s lives. Therefore, games can be applied only for the morally and emotionally stable children; however, in general, it is better to use the exercises instead of games, as they produce more benefits for the education of the children and lack fear of the failure. Undoubtedly, this counter-argument is not the absolute truth, as games are in any case characterized by the failures and victories. Thus, it is better to apply the approach of games and teach children to perceive a failure as a norm which fosters their development.
The current paper is focused on the following terms and concepts.
Physical exercises are movements or actions used for the physical development of a person. It is a means of physical improvement, transformation of a person, and development of their biological, psychic, intellectual, emotional and social essence. Physical exercises are the main means of all kinds of physical culture. While acting on the brain, they cause a feeling of cheerfulness and joy as well as create an optimistic and balanced neuropsychic state. Physical education must be studied from early childhood to old age. Physical education is an organized process of influencing a person through exercises, hygienic activities and natural forces with the aim of forming such qualities and acquiring such knowledge and skills that meet the requirements of society and the interests of the individual.
Children with special educational needs are those individuals who have various abnormalities relating to the mental or physical plane that cause violations of the general development that do not allow children to lead a full life. Characteristics of children with special educational needs are dependent on many indicators, with the defect being the determining one. All in all, it influences the further practical activities of the individual.
Adaptive physical education is a broad concept that encompasses a set of health-improving measures aimed at rehabilitation and adaptation to the environment of people with special educational needs and involves overcoming various psychological barriers that can interfere with the sense of the fullness of life and the realization of one’s own worthiness and significance. Adaptive physical culture has a positive effect on the overall development of the body and personality by developing physical and psychological parameters. Thus, it has a positive impact on consciousness, while stressing the need to improve and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
The regular classes of physical education for children with special educational needs are vital for the development of their educational needs. The lessons of adaptive physical education for children with special educational needs are extremely important. By means of a complex of adaptive physical culture, it is possible to significantly improve the mental and physical state of children who have deviations in educational development and promote them to feasible physical exercises and the ability to control the psychophysiological state. Due to physical education classes, children have the opportunity to learn the skills of psych emotional unloading in socially acceptable forms, they form a functional readiness for learning and interacting with others, and the time of the child’s stable performance increases, which has a positive effect on the process of education and upbringing. Formed in physical education classes, the psychophysiological base allows teachers who develop higher mental functions to achieve sustainable results. Games in physical education classes for children with special educational needs form motivation and prepare children for the further development. Having new positive emotional experiences achieved, children are stimulated to develop their cognitive abilities. The process of games regulates and balances the emotional sphere of a child and makes them more communicative, which also helps develop educational skills.
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