Parents, families and teachers all want to see children succeed academically. There seems to be pressure mounting on our children to do well on assessments. Pencil and paper test still holds high value in our education system. As global societies make the transition into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) era. There is need for change in mental shifts of parents, families and teachers in how our children learn and acquire the skills needed to function in a STEM society.

Treddy Chen

In our quest for cognitive gain we seem to ignore the importance of the physical aspects of learning within our curriculum priorities. Physical activity which for most children is considered play, refers to activities that involve large muscle activity which may include running, jumping, pushing, pulling, throwing, kicking, riding and climbing. Research attests, physical activities maximize children’s attention span, foster creativity, enhance social development, foster self-regulation, and achieve cognitive gain through building academic skills resulting in positive outcomes academically.

The link between physical activities or play and academic success have been presented by a number of experts yet this has not been utilized for desired success. This post presents the facts about physical activities and children’s STEM success.

Benefits of Physical Activities

Children should never be told or feel that physical activities or play is unimportant or unproductive. All children including children with special needs must be given the opportunity each day to play and or engage in physical activities. Why is this so? Physical activity = cognitive gain. The science proves that if we want children to do well academically; and to develop STEM skills for functioning in a real world, allowing them to play and be active systematically, will result in the best academic outcomes.



Let us examine the benefits of physical play:

  • promotes the physical, emotional health and well-being of a child’s body
  • stimulates the brain to think outside the box
  • develops cognitive, social, artistic, creative, critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to foster STEM fluency
  • fosters independence in thought and action; generating new ideas and interests
  • fosters intrinsic motivation and persistence
  • builds confidence
  • fosters longer attention spans
  • enhances physical training of muscles, for strength and endurance
  • promotes new behaviors and practising as well as consolidating established ones
  • provides opportunities for skills and knowledge already acquired for different purposes;
  • promotes understanding of rules and structures

Factors Affecting children’s Physical Activities

There should be no barriers to children’s play. One major factor affecting play or physical activities is the lack of available space. It is a fact that children need some amount of space for movement and physical play. Since most of our families are living in cities and urban centers the housing structures may not provide large amount of space for play. So what are the solutions?

Parks should be built as part of family recreation in communities and play grounds as well. However, there are communities without such features. Families living in the country side have lots of space and children enjoy the atmosphere during play.

Tom Barrett

For urban families you can make the accommodation whether inside or outside for children to play. Move furniture and fixtures to rotate for play area indoors if you have to. Provide an area outdoors in the back yard or front area for children’s play.

One other factor is, parents believe that physical play is unimportant. Thus, more emphasis is placed on memorizing and preparing for assessment robbing children of the opportunity for better outcomes through play.

Some children also have physical challenges however; this should never be a deterrent as parents and families should consider what physical activities these children may engage in for positive outcomes.

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How Can We Help Parents?

Parents, Families and teachers must accept that, the skills for STEM fluency and academic achievements are best fostered and developed through physical play. I have developed a simple physical play kit that I want to recommend for children’s play. This kit contains jump robe, ball, hop scotch and a bike or wheel toy for toddlers. These are resources all parents should have as starters if you want your children to engage in physical play even with a small or moderate play space.


1. Jump robe– is a very vital resource for children. This simple, yet effective play tool produces a lot of movement for the body. Children do much concentrating, singing, reciting, counting and just about any favorite verbalizing when jumping. You don’t need a large space for this and all the benefits mentioned above can be achieved using a jump rope.

Click on the link below to purchase on Amazon.

AIZIYUO Jump Rope, Ball Bearings Tangle-Free Rapid Speed Cable Skipping Rope, Adjustable Jumping Ropes for Men, Women and Kids – 2 Pack


2. Ball – every home should have one once you have a child. The magic about a ball is its ability to be used in multiple activities.  Toddlers, middle schoolers and teenagers can manipulate and utilize in learning skills. Much concentration in using it. It builds spatial awareness , allows for predictions, and experimenting.  Parents can provide hoop, and or bat to enhance use of a ball.

Children like rolling, kicking, throwing, catching, bouncing and bating a ball. Infants and toddlers have much fun with it You can play hide and seek with them using the ball. Great problem solving skills you are developing with them. It is very exciting to watch toddlers kick or even throw a ball.

Playing with a ball  aids in building their muscles and directionality. So much patterning and sequencing can be learnt. For older children, the ball can be used in diverse ways even in games. This helps them in self-regulation and they also learn about the physical laws of force acting on the ball during play.

Click on the link below to purchase on Amazon.

CubicFun Kids Soccer Ball Size 3 with Hand Pump Mesh Bag, Dinosaur Soccer Ball Outdoor Toys for Kids Ages 4-8 6-12 Backyard Activities Sports, Gifts for 3 4 5 6 Year Old Boys Girls




3. Hop scotch– much hopping takes place here. Children find active ways in learning content in math such as, numbers, shapes, orders, sequencing, problem solving. Much concentration and process skills are being used, developed and expanded. Parents do not need very large space for such activity. Again, much use of large muscles and all benefits of physical play can be derived from this activity.

Click on the link below to purchase on Amazon.

Cekene Hopscotch Kids Carpet Rug Hop and Count Fun Educational Children Play Mat Pink Girl Nursery Floor Mats Rug Bedroom Playroom Great Gift


4. Bike or wheel toy for toddlers is great for physical activity. Parents can use designated space indoors. Outdoors or supervise while walking on the block for children to go for rides. Children consolidate their spatial awareness and mental mapping skills through moving and covering space. They learn to balance, use of force, directionality, distance, even predicts how fast or how slow, measures distance with speed and time. Please ensure children wear safety gear when riding.

Click on the link below to purchase on Amazon.

YGJT Baby Balance Bikes Bicycle Kids Toys Riding Toy for 1 Year Boys Girls 10-36 Months Baby’s First Bike First Birthday Gift


JOYSTAR 16 Inch Kids Bike for 4 5 6 7 Years Boys & Girls, Unisex Child Bicycle with Training Wheels for Boy & Girl, Beige (85% Assembled)


You may find the following posts from this website of interest to further develop your child’s STEM success through play


Physical play is most important if we are to reap society’s richest reward in producing functional citizens to meet the demand of a STEM society. Physical play is very beneficial to children. It builds their social competence, self-regulation, maximizes children’s attention span, fosters creativity and achieve cognitive gains through building academic skills resulting in positive outcomes academically.

While parents false notion of the importance of play, lack of space and challenges with children’s physical abilities are some barriers to physical play, children should never be told or feel that physical activities or play is unimportant or unproductive. All children should be provided with daily opportunities for physical play to facilitate the development of skills needed for STEM fluency and academic gains.

A recommendation for a starter physical play kit is offered to parents. This kit contains jump robe, ball, hop scotch and a bike or wheel toy for toddlers These resources should assist all parents in engaging their children in physical play even with a small or moderate play space.

This post was written to assist parents, families and teachers in engaging children through physical play to attain STEM fluency and or cognitive gains. Based on research findings, physical play supports children’s cognitive achievement. Please feel free to leave your opinions, ideas, comments, and questions relating to this post. I am more than happy to respond to you in a timely manner.

You are free to share or like this page on any of the above social networks. Click on them (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) on the top right of the page.

I welcome you sharing your child’s experiences using the suggested play resources. Thank you for stopping by and have fun engaging your children!

Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith, PhD, JP


4 Replies to “Know The Facts About Physical Activities And Your Child’s STEM Success”

  1. This is a great website for parents to engage in physical activities for their children. You have it well laid out and very informative. Teaching parents how to utilize different elements of physical activities and where to get them. What the benefits are in using each item and why.  I like the graphics you’ve used they are very colourful and adds interest to your content.  Overall I love your website it is very good. Our children today do not get enough exercise there is too much television and video games and our children are loosing out on the health benefits of playing outside. Great job. Deborah

    1. Thank you Deborah for leaving your comments. I am happy you are aware of the importance of physical play for our children. Please share this information so that other adults , parents and families may be aware,

  2. Hello there! this is an amazing review you have got here. I am very sure the quality informations here will be of great help to anyone who come across it. For me as a mother, I allow these activities for my kids as regular physical activity can help these children and even adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles.

    Thanks for sharing this educative post!

    1. Thank you Joy for leaving your comments. I am happy to know that you are engaging your children in physical activities. Please continue to do so. They will have life long  benefits from these engagements.

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