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Parkour plus maths has kids in Dubai jumping for joy

DUBAI // Parkour obstacle-running is being used to help children jump, climb and roll their way towards academic success.

Youngsters at the Wisdom Warehouse tutoring centre have taken part in workshops that mix the energising effects of parkour with subjects such as mathematics and writing.

The children have to negotiate an obstacle course while being encouraged to solve problems or apply knowledge they learnt in a lesson.

“We ran a similar workshop last month where we had a group of children take part in parkour while learning mathematics and problem solving,” said Jamie Musacchio, director of Wisdom Warehouse.

“I came up with the idea a while ago as a way of getting more engagement from children during lessons and it has been well-received by the children who have taken part so far.”

The monthly workshops take place at Parkour DXB at Alserkal Avenue, in Al Quoz, with the latest session on Saturday focused on writing skills.

“It is set up that the children have parkour obstacles to overcome,” she said. “We play music in the background and, once that stops, the kids have to stop their movements and have to answer a particular question or apply something they have been learning … for example, be asked to use adjectives in their story. In this way students have to apply what they learn in a lesson and get used to doing that.

“Physical activity of this kind not only energises a child’s body but also mind and they have fun during the lessons.”

The workshops run for 90 minutes, with a 45-minute introduction to the lesson followed by the parkour.

Parkour was developed from a French training system aimed at negotiating military obstacle courses.

Andrea Brooks, head coach at Parkour DXB, oversees the workshops.

“We begin by getting the children warmed up and getting them used to working with the movement,” she said. “The course itself has about six obstacles and the children have a number of ways to get through be that climbing, jumping or scrambling.

“The great thing about parkour is that anyone can do it and its movements are completely natural, so it’s very accessible. Children have a sense of curiosity and like to push themselves, so parkour really fits in with that, and it is all done in a safe environment.”

Parkour encourages those taking part to think in creative ways, Ms Brooks said.

“When you’re faced with an obstacle and aren’t sure the best way of overcoming it you have to be creative and experiment,” she said. “One of the main things you learn while doing parkour is that it’s okay to fail as long as you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and try again.”

Elias Moosman, from the United States, took both his sons to the workshop last month and was impressed.

“It’s a really unique place and it gives children a way of learning that they perhaps would not normally get,” he said.

“My eight and six-year-old boys both took part and enjoyed themselves during the experience.

“It is something I think other parents should consider as the workshops have a unique way of helping the children learn that they don’t normally experience in the classroom.”

For more details visit wisdomwarehousedubai.com.

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The National