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  • Writer's pictureLily @ CircusBrighton

The Science of Circus: How Circus Skills Help with Motor Development and Coordination

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Circus skills are often associated with entertainment and spectacle, but they also have scientific benefits. Specifically, learning and practicing circus skills can aid in motor development and coordination, particularly in children. In this blog post, we will briefly explore the science behind circus skills and how they can benefit individuals of all ages.


The Importance of Motor Development and Coordination


Motor development and coordination are critical skills that are essential for everyday life. Children, in particular, rely on these skills to grow and learn, whether it be crawling, walking, or running. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, physical activity and movement play a crucial role in the cognitive, physical, and social development of children.


The Benefits of Circus Skills

Circus skills involve a wide range of movements and activities that can help to develop motor skills and coordination. Some examples of these circus skills would include juggling, acrobatics, aerial arts, and tightrope walking. These activities have been shown to require a combination of strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination, which can improve overall physical fitness, enhance cognitive abilities and emotional wellbeing.


A study conducted by researchers at Northumbria University found that circus skills training (CST) had significant differences between CST and none-CST children for teacher ratings of emotional problems, with the CST-group showing fewer such problems. They found CST could offer an innovative means of encouraging children to engage with exercise and provide wider benefits in terms of psychological wellbeing. They also compared 2 groups of children (aged 9–12) on various measures of physical and psychological wellbeing at baseline, and again after one group had received 6 months of CST training as part of their school’s physical education classes.


The results of the study were clear - the children who participated in the circus skills workshops showed significant improvements. The researchers concluded that circus skills training can be a fun and engaging way to promote physical activity and improve children's motor skills, especially for those who avoid traditional competitive team sports.


This study is not the only one that suggests the benefits of circus skills training for children.

Another study published in the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention found that circus arts can have a positive impact on the physical and social wellbeing of disadvantaged youth. This study suggests that circus arts training can also provide a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem for children who may be struggling in other areas of their lives.


Overall, the benefits of circus skills training for children are clear. It can improve gross and fine motor skills, as well as hand-eye coordination, while also providing a fun and engaging activity that can promote physical activity and social skills. If you're looking for a unique and exciting way to encourage physical activity and promote your child's development, consider enrolling them in a circus skills workshop.


Circus Skills and Cerebral Palsy

Circus skills can also benefit individuals with motor disabilities. A review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that improvements in physical and/or social-emotional outcomes were reported for all studies in circus skills interventions for participants with cerebral palsy.


"There is emerging evidence of positive health outcomes resulting from circus activities used in general populations and those with defined biopsychosocial challenges." (Coulston, et al, 2023)


For further reading we recommend the study in 2019 Journal of Teaching in Physical Education that conducted an in-depth review and original research and concluded that 'Circus arts instruction enriched PE can effectively aid in the development of physical literacy in children with greater gender equity.' (Kriellaars, et al, 2019)

Circus arts training is a fun and engaging way to encourage physical activity in individuals with motor disabilities. It allows them to build strength, coordination, and balance while engaging in a unique and exciting activity. Furthermore, circus arts training can improve social skills and self-esteem, providing individuals with a sense of accomplishment and a positive outlook on life. It can be a beneficial form of therapy for individuals with motor disabilities, including cerebral palsy, and offers a unique way of exercising both the body and the mind, while also improving balance, coordination, and overall motor function. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of circus arts training for individuals with motor disabilities, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional.


References:

Nick Neave, Angie Johnson, Kathryn Whelan & Karen McKenzie (2020)The psychological benefits of circus skills training (CST) in schoolchildren,Theatre, Dance and Performance Training,11:4,488-497,DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2019.1666027

Coulston, Free, Kate L. Cameron, Kath Sellick, Madeline Cavallaro, Alicia Spittle, and Rachel Toovey. 2023. "Circus Activities as a Health Intervention for Children, Youth, and Adolescents: A Scoping Review" Journal of Clinical Medicine 12, no. 5: 2046. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm12052046

Kriellaars, Dean & Cairney, John & Bortoleto, Marco & Kiez, Tia & Dudley, Dean & Aubertin, Patrice. (2019). The Impact of Circus Arts Instruction in Physical Education on the Physical Literacy of Children in Grades 4 and 5. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 38. 1-9. 10.1123/jtpe.2018-0269.



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