“Welcome to E-Soccer Island! We are going to get ready to fly around the island, so put your arms out and get your wings ready! Turn on your planes and let me hear the engines loud! Ready, set, fly!”
Every Saturday I get the opportunity to attend E-Soccer to coach and help kids with special needs feel like superheroes for an hour. At E-Soccer, we a believe that we should build an inclusive environment for every kid that is present. As a coach, there are a few things to take into account when training the kids. Awareness, anticipation and acknowledgement are the three main components of making sure your child feels more than great.
Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your child has is important. So is being aware of the things they like, love to do and simply how they function. For example, at the end we all put our hands in and say, “Shooting stars!”—aware that some children are sensitive to loud sounds. Understand how to make the environment the most comfortable for your child. If one of the kids loves to run, run with him/her! It is a way that s/he can express him/herself. That alone is a victory.
Anticipating what is coming next is super helpful.Transitions are a crucial time during activities. For example, when one of the activities is coming to an end, prepare them and let them know the transition ahead of time. When there is a quick change, some kids find it difficult to quickly adapt and change gears. Talk them through the transition and then let them know everything is going to be okay. If you guys are scoring some goals, you can say, “Hey, in a little bit, we’ll be kicking the soccer ball to another player.” This is preparing them for the next activity.
Acknowledgement is huge from the start to finish, even carrying over to the next week. It could look like saying, “Hey nice shirt!” all the way to, “You did a wonderful job kicking the ball today!” These kinds of comments are really helpful in keeping them motivated. There is a huge difference in kids outlook when there are positive reinforcements. because they mean more to kids than you think. Simple gestures like giving high fives or simply saying “great job” builds a child’s morale! They are game-changing!
These three simple things can change a child’s experience. Our goal as coaches is to make the kids believe in themselves and enjoy E-Sports every Saturday. Being aware, anticipating transitions and acknowledgement can bring a kid so much further than s/he was before and that’s a victory! Who knew that 60 minutes every Saturday could turn you into a superhero…?