Improving Your Child’s Social-Emotional Growth Through Board Games

In the fast-paced, high tech world of childhood, girls and boys are much more likely to reach for the iPad and Xbox than a set of dice. Although, technology can provide immense growth in your blog-social-emotional-main-landscapechild’s life, it can also delay important social-emotional learning that the old-fashioned board game has to offer.

Below are some important reasons to bring back the board game to work on social-emotional growth:

Practice Social Skills

Board games are a fantastic outlet to practice turn-taking, rule following and positive sportsmanship. Depending on your child’s age, choose an appropriate game to begin the process of reading the rules, modeling the steps of a turn, and providing examples of positive praise and compliments. Commend your child as they begin to integrate this set of skills into their regular play!

Enhance Flexible Thinking

Board games also allow for children to work on improving their frustration tolerance. Many parents can often relate to observing their children shutting down, becoming angry, or walking away from the game after a missed turn, wrong move, or misunderstanding. Flexible thinking skills to practice include compromising, negotiating, and problem-solving. Taking a break and calm breathing can also be helpful strategies. Practicing how to handle frustration in the context of a board game will help children to better handle frustration in other areas of their lives.

Helpful Tips

  • Incorporate your child’s favorite stuffed animal or Lego character as an additional player in the board game when other family members are unavailable.
  • Cooperative games are a helpful way to practice teamwork and can prevent competition from getting in the way of practicing rule-following and turn-taking skills.
  • Involve your child in picking out the board game in order to increase their interest in this new activity.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

Autism and Pokémon: Go?

A new mobile game is igniting some sparks in children with Autism. Pokémon Go, is a mobile based Pokémon Gogaming application which uses GPS and reality to encourage users to “Catch them all” throughout neighborhood and local areas. Many children with Autism, who already gravitate to video games and electronics, are certainly interested in the craze.

Although the game and its effects has not been thoroughly researched, below I will list some possible benefits to introducing your child to Pokémon Go:

  • Pokémon Go Encourages Preferred Play in New Environments and Combating Rigidity – Many children with Autism are already highly interested in video games. However, often times, children with video games are able to enjoy this reinforcement in insolation whether it is in their rooms or in a small corner in the living room. Pokémon Go is sending users to areas outside the home such as the local park, the neighbor’s house, and dare I say it, Home Depot. The child who never wants to go to the park is now begging to go to the park!!
  • Pokémon Go Encourages Social Interactions – The amazing phenomenon to come from Pokémon Go, is its adaptability to all types of users: typical and children with Autism. Children are linking in random places, all trying to catch a Pokémon. Very meaningful conversations can arise from these meet-ups: “How many Pokémon do you have?” and “Have you found Pikachu yet?” Unlike most video games, Pokémon Go heavily relies on the knowledge of other users who are playing the game as well to find out the most popular places to catch Pokémon and thus encourages interactions with individuals whom children with Autism may otherwise have nothing in common with. They are all simply trying to “Catch them all.”
  • Pokémon Go Encourages Parents to Learn More About Their Child’s Needs – Parents often struggle with how to speak to their children’s world. Pokémon Go encourages bonding opportunities, especially with younger children, because parents need to supervise the outings. Parents are having opportunities to see their children shriek and smile like never before. In addition, learning the pragmatics of the game can help parents to seek out other alternatives and strategies to try with their child that have the same function and may yield similar results.

Lastly, while Pokémon Go can possibly yield answers to the Autism Community on how to get our children out of the house and interacting with the outside world.

Here are some important Pokémon Go tips for parents:

  • Children should not be allowed to roam neighborhoods or public places alone.
  • Teach your children whom it is safe to speak Pokémon with and whom it may not.
  • Talk to your children about safety at Pokéstops; avoid dark and isolated places
  • Encourage Poképlay in small or large groups of friends.

Oh, and did I mention, children are learning some pretty cool Pokémon names in the process…

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Find-Out-More-About-Autism

Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

The Best Games for Language and Social Skill Development

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good family game night? A little friendly competition, some yummy Blog-Language-Development-Main-Landscapesnacks and, of course, fun! As a pediatric speech therapist, I use games every day in my speech sessions. To be honest, I would be lost without them. Games are exciting, motivating, and best of all, they help children learn important speech and language skills without even realizing it!  There are many games that encourage the development of speech, language, and social skills. You can work on everything from learning how to take turns, to categorizing, making inferences, and oral narratives (i.e. story telling). Grab one of the following games for your next family game (and learning!) night!

These first few games are perfect for children who are just learning to play games as they are not language heavy. These games are great for promoting skills such as joint attention, turn-taking, cause and effect, commenting, and learning basic vocabulary and concepts (i.e. on, off, in, out, next). Some of these games introduce letter, shape and number concepts as well.

  • Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel by Educational Insights
  • Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco by Educational Insights
  • Frida’s Fruit Fiesta by Educational Insights
  • Hoot, Owl, Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Feed the Woozle by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Pop-Up Pirate by TOMY
  • Pop the Pig by Goliath Games
  • Zingo by Think Fun
    • There are many varieties of Zingo including numbers, letters, and telling time.

The next few games support turn-taking and overall social skills, but delve a little deeper into specific language skills.

Categorizing

  • Spot It! by Blue Orange
    • There are many varieties of Spot It, from Junior Edition to the special Frozen Spot It
  • Scattegories Junior
  • Speedeebee by Blue Orange
  • Rally Up by Blue Orange
  • HedBanz by Spin Master

Following Directions

  • Hullabaloo by Cranium
  • Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That! by Wonder Forge
  • Roll and Play by Think Fun
  • Ring It! by Blue Orange

Story Telling

  • Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright
  • Tell Tale by Blue Orange

Grab a game and have some fun!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Meet-With-A-Speech-Pathologist

The Best Board Games for Toddlers

The Best Board Games for Toddlers

There is no question as to why board games have withstood the test of time, remaining a favorite family past time activity. As the world becomes more and more electronic, board games provide a sense of fun that is refreshing and simple. Not only do board games provide traditional fun for families, they are also great therapy activities.

Board games often act dual purposely during a therapy session – as they can be used as either a motivator or an educational tool. First and foremost, board games provide the perfect environment to practice social skills, such as turn taking and requesting. Basic concepts, such as colors and counting, are often the foundation of many games, providing children with language disorders repeated exposure to and practice with these concepts. Due to a board game’s predictable nature it is an excellent way to target expanding utterance length; moving a child from a one word phrase to a 3 – 4 word sentence (e.g., “I got 2”, “I want the red apple”). Lastly, board games are an excellent way to target improving a child’s attention, due to the fact that the child needs to attend to and follow the sequence of the game in order to participate.

Board games can be introduced into play as early as two with appropriate support from an adult model. Here are some of my favorite board games for toddlers (2 – 4 years).

 Best Board Games for Toddlers:

  1. Diggity Dog-Diggity Dog is a unique game in that it requires two senses, hearing and seeing.
    Rather than rolling dice, you listen for the number of barks the dog says, providing a perfectdiggity dog opportunity to target a child’s attending abilities. Children love this unique twist on a game. Other main concepts that can be targeted is the meaning of “same” versus “different”, as well as labeling colors.
  1. Hi Ho Cherry-O!-This traditional game will always remain a favorite of children and speech-language pathologists. This game challenges a child’s counting and number skills and always acts ashi ho cherryo a great motivator during therapy. Children will practice their social skills as they take turns, as well as exercise their frustration tolerance if all their picked cherries are taken back!
  1. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game-The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game provides a perfect mix between speech-language pathology and occupational therapy as this game relies greatly on fine
    motor skills. Like Hi-Ho Cherry-O, this game will target counting and number skills, but also has an added color component. Additionally, it will challenge a child’s frustration tolerance as it has higher fine motor expectations.
  1. First Orchard-First Orchard is an excellent choice for a toddler’s first board game. The game features easy rules and a simple game sequence – first roll the die, identify the color and then first orchard“harvest” the appropriate fruit. This game also features a group mentality, as players work against the raven, who wants to eat the fruit. Colors, fruit vocabulary, longer utterance length (e.g., I want the red apple) and appropriate requesting (e.g., “Can I have a pear please?”) are all possible language targets within the game.

Look for my next blog on my favorite board games for preschoolers!

NSPT offers speech and language services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Bingo

BINGO! New Twists on a Classic Game

BINGO! What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word? Senior night at the community center? What if I told you the images that come to my mind are all from my childhood? That’s right. Bingo is also for kids. There are lots of great options out there for playing Bingo as a family, and I’ve even got a few new ideas to put a new twist on this old favorite. But hey, while I’m at it, let’s re-invent some other classics too!

Fun Ways to Play Bingo:Bingo! Fun twists on a classic game

Travel Bingo: Going on a family road trip or long flight? Use a handy template to create your own travel Bingo game. Come up with a random list of things you’ll see along the way (stop signs, a certain letter, a license plate from another state, etc.) and use it to create your own Bingo cards. This is a great game that the whole family can play together (except the driver! Keep your eyes on the road!) and will enhance your kids’ observation skills.

            *Insider Tip – You can also use pictures to make Bingo exciting for younger kids too!

Educational Bingo: Struggling to learn letters, math, colors, shapes, etc? There are lots of great educational Bingo sets out there, but you can always make your own too. Create your own set of cards for a game that will make learning fun.

Puzzle Piece Bingo: This alternative I discovered quickly became a favorite when I worked in a daycare. This is a great option for younger kids who may not get the whole Bingo concept yet, or who need to work on fine motor skills. Take several board style puzzles (these are the ones that have a sturdy backboard that the puzzle pieces snap into). Ask each child to select one of the puzzles, then have them dump all the pieces into the Bingo Bin or Bingo Bag (You can make this as simple or as creative as you’d like. In daycare we just dumped all the pieces into an empty box). Have each child sit with their puzzle board in front of them. Hold up one piece at a time, and tell them to raise their hand or call out a silly word if they think the piece is from their puzzle. Go through pieces one at a time until the first child finishes their puzzle. BINGO! Hooray! Great Job!

The Tray Game: Okay, so maybe this one was never a classic, but you may have played something like it at a shower once. This game is great for teaching observation and memory skills. Take a tray or flat surface, and fill it with tiny random objects (race car, tooth pick, thread, button, coin, etc.). Put the tray where everyone can look at it and set a timer (anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on ages and attention spans). Then remove the tray from the room and have everyone write or say as many objects as they remember. The one who remembers the most wins! (This is also great for teams!)

Photo Scavenger Hunt: Kids love scavenger hunts, but they usually result in big bags of junk that need to be sorted and put away or just get thrown out. That’s why photo scavenger hunts are so great! Kids love the adventure and discovery, and taking pictures themselves will be the icing on the cake! To play, create a list in advance for teams to search for. Give each team a camera (disposable are the cheapest and lowest risk, but kids can’t see how their pictures turned out. For instant gratification use a digital camera or old school Polaroid camera, but ask adults to take charge of the camera when not in use). You can set points for especially tricky things to find, and get everyone involved in the pictures too. (A picture of two team members hugging, everyone jumping off a curb, etc.) At the end of the hunt display the pictures where everyone can see them. Give awards for biggest smile, Goofiest silly face, most finger-free photos, etc.

*Insider Tip: For a fun day out and an opportunity to teach kids to pay-it-forward make your list all about helping the community. Make your list all about small things they can do to help others – like picking up some trash, helping someone unload groceries, etc. (For more great ideas, check out my blog on teaching kids to pay it forward.)

I hope you and your family enjoy these new game ideas. Please comment below to let me know what your family like best, and share your other great ideas. Have Fun!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 fun holiday break activities

No Video Games Allowed: Five Secrets to a Successful Holiday Break

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard parents say that the kids are getting bored and that they (the parents) are at their wit’s end…two days into the much-anticipated (and dreaded?) winter break. There are only so many times you can watch Frozen or play Minecraft before everyone loses it! So, what if for this winter break we start a new tradition…in the form of an “unplugged” winter break? The following is a list of five non-television and video game-related activities that are bound to keep the kids entertained, their brains active, and you sane!

Five Activities for a Successful Holiday Break:

  • Go Local: Whether it is the children’s museum or that exhibit at the aquarium you have been meaning to visit, 5 fun holiday break activitiesmake the trip! Many of the museums offer special discounts on specific days or may even have special events going on for children during the break.
  • Indoor “Laser” Obstacle Course: Hang up yarn from one end of the room to another multiple times until the yarn crosses over itself. Put “prizes” on one end of the room and try to make it from one end to the other while not coming into contact with the yarn. For added fun, turn it into a race against time, or add furniture for more obstacles.
  • Top Chef©_ Children’s Edition: This may be messy…but well worth the fun! Set out a number of ingredients and have kids mix and create new dishes. Set up a “judge’s table” and let everyone try the masterpieces and vote on the best dish!
  • Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of random items (or things that you have lost if you are really trying to make the hunt efficient) and award point values for the various items. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of children, make it a block event!
  • Camping Out – Inside: Unless you are fortunate enough to be in a warm climate, or you want to brave the cold, try setting up a tent (made of blankets or otherwise) in front of the fire place. Have a camping-inspired dinner of hot dogs, beans, and S’mores! All the fun of camping WITH running water? Sounds like a win to me!

Want to get out of the house? Check out our Winter Break 2015: Chicago Family Activity Guide.

holiday gifts: toys to promote age appropriate developmental skills

Holiday Gifts: Toys to Promote Age-Appropriate Developmental Skills

As the holiday season approaches us, so starts the mad dash to buy everyone’s wish-list toys. Toy stores will provide you with a plethora of options from electronic gadgets to doll sets. But remember, toys can also help to improve skills, confidence and overall development! Before you go running to the stores, let’s stop and examine the toys that promote developmental skills from an occupational therapy perspective.

4 Toys for Fine Motor Development:holiday gifts: toys to promote age appropriate developmental skills

  1. Automoblox – Suitable for children 2+ years, Automoblox allow your child to explore their creative side! The interchangeable wheels, rims, tops, and bumpers promote manipulation skills.
  2. Tinker Toys – For ages 3+, this building set offers hundreds of options for creation as your child uses not only their fine motor skills, but their visual motor skills as well!
  3. Pop Beads – Pop them in and pop them out! These beads promote fine motor precision as your child becomes a jewelry designer. In addition, the resistive aspect of the Pop Beads improves fine motor strength.
  4. Spirograph – Your childhood comes back to life as you watch your child create beautiful circular patterns. As popular as ever, the Spirograph’s interlocking gears promote fine motor precision and control. Suitable for ages 5+.

4 Toys for Gross Motor Development:

  1. Rody Inflatable Hopping Horse– For children ages 3-5, this updated hippity-hop encourages posture and balance.
  2. Cat in the Hat I Can Do That Game– Can you tip toe around the Trick-a-ma-stick while balancing a cake on your head? I bet you can! This silly multi-player game encourages gross motor development through various animal walks and balancing activities. Great for ages 4-8.
  3. ALEX toys, Monkey Balance Board – This adorable board is great to practice balance skills, weight-shifting and leg strength. The durable wood is great for indoors and out, so this board will last you well into the next winter season! Great for little feet ages 3+.
  4. Skip-It – This 90’s game is still skipping strong! The Skip-It encourages gross motor coordination, balance, and encourages a child to separate the sides of their body, increasing body awareness skills.

4 Toys for Sensory Play Development:

  1. Lakeshore Scented Dough– Can your child tell the difference between the cherry and the grape? This dough encourages olfactory development as your child kneads, pinches and sculpts the dough into shapes and characters.
  2. Wonderworld Sensory Blocks– These little blocks, designed for children ages 18 months and older, encourage visual, auditory and tactile discrimination skills.
  3. Touchy Feely– A Marbles the Brain Store game, it encourages tactile discrimination for texture, shape, and temperatures.
  4. Melissa and Doug Deluxe Band Set – A mom-approved band for your child to star in! A great way for your child to control the amount of auditory stimulation in their environment and be exposed to various sounds!

4 toys for Executive Functioning Skill Development:

  1. Sequence for Kids– A family-friendly game for ages 3-6, this game is great for attention, problem solving, and as the title suggests, Sequencing skills! The best part, if you love it, you can buy the adult version as well!
  2. Busy Town Eye Found It – Richard Scarry’s beloved children’s book comes to life in an eye-spy inspired game. Race through Busy Town looking for hidden pictures promoting attention, cooperation and visual motor skills! Great for a group of kids ages 3+.
  3. Rush Hour – Help the red car get out of a traffic jam! For your older child (ages 8+), this game promotes problem-solving skills, sequencing, attention and organization.
  4. Simon Swipe– Follow the color pattern and focus on strengthening your attention, sequencing and memory skills! This game is great for solo play or to play with a friend! (ages 8+)

 

These are toys your kids will enjoy now, and they build skills that will last a lifetime! Happy holiday shopping from North Shore Pediatric Therapy!





Easy Activities to Help with Cabin Fever

While winter has over-extended its stay, but your kids do not need to go “stir crazy”!  Here are some easy activities that can be done with ages 3 years and older. The best news is that most of the supplies can be found in your home or can be purchased for a very cheap price!

Kool-Aid Playdough

Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid packet
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:
Step 1:  In a bowl, mix flour, salt, and kool-aid
Step 2: Stir in water (ADULTS should do this step!)
Step 3: Stir in oil
Step 4: Mix with a spoon and let it cool for a couple minutes
Step 5:  Knead with hands for about 5 minutes (you may need to sprinkle a little more flour if mixture is sticking to hands)

The playdough will take on the color of the flavor you chose and will smell like it too!  It can be stored  in a plastic baggy for months.

Popsicle Stick Craft Ideas

These sticks are sold in large boxes so you are able to make multiple items…the finished product also makes for great gifts!
Here are some ideas of what can be created:

• Picture frame
• Jewelry box
• Pencil holder
• Keepsake box
• Bird house

Ingredients:

  • Box of popsicle sticks (there are two sizes, thinner and thicker sticks)
  • Glue (Elmer’s glue can be used, but a tacky glue is recommended)
  • Misc. decorations: crayon, marker, paint, glitter, felt, cardboard, construction paper, etc.

Directions:

Step 1: Decorate sticks with misc. supplies.  If using paint or glitter, let sticks dry.
Step 2: Use a dime-size of glue on each end of the sticks when building your creation.
Step 3: Let the creations dry over night.     

Building Beans

Ingredients:

  • Large dried beans
  • Bowl of water
  • Strainer
  • Wooden toothpicks

 Directions

Step 1: Soak the beans overnight in the bowl of water.
Step 2: Strain the water off the beans.
Step 3: Stick a toothpick in one bean.
Step 4: Continue sticking beans and toothpicks together to make a structure.
Step 5: When finished, let the bean structure dry overnight.

Here are some other items that you can try:

  • Build a structure with marshmallows and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with soaked dry peas and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with fresh peas and toothpicks

Sun-catchers

Ingredients:

  • White Glue
  • Food coloring
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic lids (Lids from tubs of yogurt, hummus, sour cream etc.)
  • Hole Punch
  • String

Directions:

Step One: Pour a generous amount of glue into one of your plastic lids and swish it around to cover the entire inner surface.

Step Two: Put one or two drops of each color of food coloring around the glue.

Step Three: Take a toothpick to swirl the colors around in the glue. Stop swirling before the colors get too combined or the final result will be muddy and brown. This is an exercise in restraint!

Step Four: Let dry. As the colors settle they will continue to expand and create a tie-dye effect. Depending on how much glue you used, the sun-catcher will take one to three days to fully dry. You will know it’s ready when the edges start to peel off the lid.

Step Five: When fully dry, peel the sun-catcher off the lid, punch a hole through the top, add a string, and hang in a sunny spot.


 

6 Health Benefits of Basketball for Children

Ever wonder which team sport keeps boys and girls busy no matter their age, skill level, or the season? I recently had the opportunity to watch one of my clients play basketball with his middle school team, and it was so rewarding to see him transfer skills we worked on during physical therapy to the court.  Basketball is a high-intensity, high-agility activity that teaches children coordination, concentration, and cooperation.

6 Health Benefits of Basketball:

  1. Endurance: As with any high intensity sport, there are many cardiovascular benefits of basketball.  Between bouts of running, jumping, dribbling, and bouts of rests, kids are participating in total body interval training without even realizing it. Interval training boosts aerobic capacity, energy levels, and metabolism, which in turn helps kids concentrate more in school.
  2. Motor Control: The ability to control our limbs in space may come naturally, but being able to pass and shoot with precision during a basketball game takes special training and repetitive practice.  Performing drills on and off the court with a basketball enables children to grade their muscle forces, control the position of their bodies in response to an opponent or a pass, and plan out successful movement sequences.
  3. Ankle Stability: All the agility training, cutting back and forth, multidirectional running, pivoting, and turning within a basketball game are great ways to challenge our lower body muscles and joints, especially the structures surrounding our ankles.  Organized basketball teaches kids safe and successful ways to block, pass, steal, jump, and run without hurting themselves or others.  Ball sports such as basketball are great for reinforcing kids’ balance reactions and balance strategies and prevent future injury.
  4. Balance/Coordination: As with most team sports, basketball requires upper body coordination, total body coordination, and hand-eye coordination. Dribbling, catching, passing, and making baskets require planning, precision, and quick reactions. Walking backwards, turning, or running while dribbling a ball and at the same time paying attention to other players is a challenging but interesting exercise for coordination and body awareness.
  5. Agility: Basketball is a fast paced sport where athletes have to think fast on their feet and respond quickly to plays that could change momentum and direction at any minute.  Young athletes are working on mental drills in addition to physical techniques. Basketball enhances children’s agility due to the swiftness needed to dodge other players and make aggressive plays.
  6. Social Skills: The great thing about team sports is the level of discipline and communication needed for success at the games. Young athletes learn from an early age how to work in a team atmosphere, pay attention to others, and respond accordingly. An athlete needs discipline to attend practices and pay attention to the rules of any game.  Team sports prepare children for necessary social interactions later in life.  Through these sports, children understand shared responsibility, team work, how to deal with triumph and defeat, all of which are applicable throughout life.

Click here to read about the health benefits of another fun winter sport: hockey!