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Parkour is the act of moving from point A to point B using whatever is in your path to move more efficiently. Over time, the efficiency part becomes less of the focus for some people who start using the movements as a way to express themselves. Some of this movement involves flips, fancy rolls, and all kinds of cool tricks that you can learn in parkour classes.
At the root of it all however, parkour is based on natural, effective movement. The flips are cool, but they are not really the point (if you like the flips, you can get there too with lots of training and practice). For those who really love parkour, it is more than just sliding down railings and rolling over benches – parkour is about overcoming any obstacle. So not only can parkour classes help boys, who are found to benefit differently from physical activity than girls, they also help teach mental focus and self regulation. Here is how parkour classes may benefit your son.
Boys Need to Move
It is not your imagination that your son is in a near constant state of motion. Over and over, research shows that boys have a harder time sitting still in school all day. When they struggle to do so, or are unable to, they are often punished with silent lunch or missed recess, which only furthers the problem. According to Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies that Work and Why, boys are kept back in school at twice the rate of girls, and are expelled from preschool five times more often than girls. Boys are diagnosed with attention disorders and learning disorders nearly four times more than girls – they are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
So why is this? Some studies have shown that it can be linked to behavior and teacher bias. Boys are often graded lower than testing predicted and often it is because of teacher bias towards boys’ rambunctious behavior. Boys are often labeled as being too fidgety, hyperactive, and disruptive.
The fact of the matter is that for many boys, they cannot help it. It is not because they have undiagnosed ADHD (although that could sometimes be the case). It is simply because they are biologically wired to move. It actually helps them learn. Any mom of boys can confirm this phenomenon. By punishing their movement, we are often the ones preventing them from learning.
The answer to getting your son moving could be getting him into parkour classes. When boys enter the upper grades and recess goes away, there is not always a lot of opportunity for physical activity during the day. That means boys are sitting in school for nearly six hours a day.
The Benefit of Parkour Classes
Parkour classes offer a unique movement opportunity, especially for kids who may not be interested in team sports. Classes help kids develop body awareness, spatial reasoning, strength and power, flexibility, and the joy of free movement. Most beginner classes focus on the basic movements of parkour like rolling, vaulting, climbing, and how to land correctly. The good thing about enrolling in formal parkour classes rather than just sending your kids outside after watching a handful of YouTube videos is that parkour classes focus heavily on technique and safety. Parkour classes also introduce conditioning to help kids get stronger while having fun learning about all the cool ways you can move through a space.
Parkour classes not only help burn off some of that need to move, but they also build balance, coordination, and endurance. The added bonus of building all of those skills is that all together they help build confidence. How could you help but feel confident when you can scale and flip over barriers? If your son is one of the many boys who struggle to sit still in school or who seem to be in constant motion, parkour classes may be just the thing to help channel that energy. Once kids have an outlet for that need to move, they can often be more content in the times when they have to be still.
Parkour Classes at a Glance
Parkour is an extremely physical form of activity. Although exercises will vary depending on the type of class, students move constantly during an hour or ninety minute session. Most parkour classes feature a warm up, some form of strength training, skills acquisition where they teach the actual parkour techniques, and a cool down. They are like any other exercise class you might take, except instead of the same old routine you are jumping and vaulting over obstacles. It has a lot in common with gymnastics and can often be found in gyms alongside the recently popular ninja obstacle course style training.
Parkour classes are so popular that in many areas there are multiple gyms and facilities with classes for kids and teens. Many tumble gyms have parkour classes for younger kids that teach parkour at the very basic level. However, there are facilities that specialize in and only teach parkour, so check out what is available in the area. You might be surprised at your options.
Although there are times that it can be distracting to other kids and not the expected behavior from a teacher, there is nothing wrong with a boy in motion. Boys, and kids in general, need to move. Unfortunately, not all teachers or environments will be flexible enough to allow a little fidgeting or bouncing around. That is why getting boys involved in something like parkour classes can be beneficial. They need an outlet for all that pent up energy. Offering that time, even just once or twice a week, could really help balance all the time they are forced to sit in places like school. You may find that you have the next World Parkour Champion on your hands.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Back to Busy with a Mom of All Boys.
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Sources: What is Parkour?, Male and Female Differences in Health Benefits Derived from Physical Activity: Implications for Exercise Prescription, Want to Raise Successful Boys? Science Says Do This, Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies that Work and Why, Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School