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Adapt!

adaptedphysicalactivity-headerThere are common schoolyard activities that seem to cross generations and geographic locations, games like four square, hopscotch and tag. These games are fun and provide a healthy, active way for children to participate and socialize with friends.

Nonetheless, for some children, these common activities can cause stress and anxiety. There are a number of reasons why this may happen- it might be difficult to understand the rules of the game, children may not have motor skills proficient enough to participate with success or children may have a disability and, at first glance, the game might not appear to accommodate their needs. Yet, we know that participation is important in healthy child development.

In Adapted Physical Activity we strive for inclusion, which often means adapting the activity in one way or another. Here are a few ideas of how you can adapt to accommodate your child’s needs.

You can adapt:

  • Equipment- the size, texture & weight of the equipment is easy to change.
  • Court size- you can make the “space” smaller or bigger depending on your needs.
  • Terrain- you can move the activity onto a terrain that accommodates the needs of wheelchair users or children with mobility disabilities.
  • Instruction- you can provide different types of instruction. In addition to verbal instruction, you can demonstrate and use hand-over-hand instruction when needed.
  • Practice- you can spend some time with your children after school or on the weekends practicing these games.

Megan MacDonald, PhD
Assistant Professor
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
School of Biological & Population Health Sciences
Exercise and Sport Science Program
Movement Studies in Disabilities


This is posted in conjunction with Oregon Parenting Education Week 2013

The Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families promotes the development and well being of children, youth and families by generating, translating and sharing research-based knowledge.

The Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC) supports delivery of high quality parenting education programs and collaborative efforts to strengthen regional parenting education systems.

OPEC is a partnership of four of Oregon’s largest foundations (The Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, The Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation) and Oregon State University.