There is a branding problem with physical education and what it takes to be ‘active’. Renaming it “Active 4 Life” would ensure everyone is engaged through fun activities which will last a lifetime.
Whatever we call it, some form of PE should be a significant part of everyone’s day — children and grownups alike. Many teachers and professionals working in schools recognise the importance of the need for children to be active but sometimes there is a struggle to get the support required from the powers above.
Young children, particularly, need the physical and mental stimulus to be active. Lifetime health and physical coordination must be embedded in all young children's lives from an early age so that they can take that into adulthood. Therefore, the best way to address issues such as obesity is to begin committing everyone to a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
The latest statistics from our unique Activity Challenge platform shows that we have a long way to go before all kids are committing to this. For example 64% of children who took part in the challenge failed to achieve 60 star jumps a minute, worrying, right?
This is exactly why we need to make sure we are engaging all children through fun-filled activities; exactly like Fit For Sport have been doing for 25 years. It’s vital to avoid throwing children into a competitive environment where we know that 10/30 kids out of the class will thrive and the rest will become disengaged for life.
We have created schools which do not allow children to be active and have fun. Break & lunch times should be the most enjoyable part of the school day where children are meant to have fun, play games and let of a little steam. However, we now have many schools restricting the use of equipment such as skipping ropes, balls etc due to risk of injury and even running as ‘it could cause an accident’.
Teaching PE in primary school does not always have to be highly structured. Instead there should be a larger focus on ensuring that the activities led by coaches, classroom teachers and playground assistants etc are made to be as fun as possible.
This needs to be embedded into every school if we are to achieve our 60 minutes a day for every child and it’s not complicated, just as Fit For Sport have demonstrated with the Sport England Engage To Compete project, which proved to be achievable with little or no additional cost.
We now have a government who has proposed a strategy to help children hit their recommended 60 minutes a day, 30 minutes being delivered in school and 30 minutes for parents to drive after school hours. If both can commit to this, it would certainly make a difference to many children's lives.
The main concern is that we still have schools focusing on the sporty kids and neglecting those less interested; after all playing sport is not the only means of physical activity. Furthermore, there is also the issue of parents who are not active themselves, as they tend to find it very difficult to cement daily activity into their routines.
This is why Fit For Sport have been successful for 25 years in working with less sport driven children and disengaged parents! Training and supporting schools to make physical activity a priority and engaging and educating parents with (SAS) Simple, Achievable and Sustainable methods has proved a success.
It's time for both schools and parents to begin working together in order to strive for a healthier nation.