“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities.”
Children with dyslexia are often bright, creative individuals who are otherwise cognitively successful. How can sports and swimming, in particular, assist someone in managing dyslexia and flourishing at life?
First of all, as we’ve discussed at length here, regular physical activity improves concentration, focus, and mood, as well as relieving stress. Swimming, in particular, also does the following:
- Improves flexibility within the joints and muscles.
- Strengthens the cardiovascular system.
- Strengthens the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body.
- Helps improve lung capacity, leading to higher oxygen intake, which allows for increased focus in the classroom.
- Additionally, swimming acts as a calming, meditative experience due to the rhythmic, repetitive motion in a quiet, sensory-friendly environment. This aspect of swimming is particularly crucial for students with dyslexia to offset the often stressful day to day work of managing dyslexia in the classroom.
Managing Dyslexia Through Sport
Beyond the health benefits, experts agree that playing sports can normalize a dyslexic child’s experience, allowing them to be peers on the playing field (or in the pool). Athletes learn the value of teamwork, increase self-esteem, establish an identity not rooted in failure and struggle, and learn valuable lessons like the positive results of hard work, plus organizational and planning skills that can be transferred back into the classroom. As one father described it, achieving results in the pool gave his son John the belief that real effort could produce results outside the pool as well. Not only that, the pool improved his overall fitness and was something he loved to do.
And according to this guide for teaching dyslexic students in sports, the strengths of students with dyslexia do lend themselves to excelling in the physical arena. Advantages that include (but are not limited to
- Multi-sensory learning styles that are particularly suited to sporting activities;
- Multi-dimensional thinking and perception
- An acute awareness of the environment
- Originality and creativity in their approach to problem-solving
- Determination to succeed
- Endurance and ability to practice the same skill over and over again, even if there is little apparent progress
“Athletics puts them in a position in which they are equal to their peers—they help each other, they cooperate, they pull together, and they learn to accept both winning and losing with grace and maturity.”
If you or your child struggle with dyslexia, consider our premium swim lessons as a path to success both in and out of the water. Register today!
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.