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Home learning has been a challenge that many schools, parents, teachers and children have all had to rise up to during this pandemic. However, there is growing discussion of our children’s physical and mental wellbeing and the long term impact of this. Our founder, Marnie Wills discusses some of these hot topics and how we as a community can better our children’s physical prospects in this difficult time.

What do you think the impact is Early Years and Primary School Children not currently doing enough physical education?

As we all know children are doing lots of online learning at home at the moment. Parents are really making an effort to keep their children engaged, with the help of a whole lot of amazing resources available. However, the one thing that many parents and even teachers seem to be forgetting to encourage is physical activity.

When children are at their Early Years setting or Primary school they will most likely have a morning run around, either before or after their breakfast club or before they start their structured lessons.

This is later followed by a morning tea break as well, then a play after lunch and finally an afternoon playtime for the younger children. This highlights the most optimal time for children to be getting outside or at least doing some physical activity that will help them burn off some energy.

It’s important that they get the blood pumping around their body. Physical activity also helps them concentrate and focus. It is so important to make sure that they are building their fitness from a strength perspective for children as it helps with developing bones, growing muscles and building their cardiovascular system.

Children need to be exercising at least three times a day, with the optimal times being 10am, 12:30pm and 3:15pm. These are optimal times for children to make sure that they are doing at least 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity. For children 5-7 years old, it’s actually 15-20 minutes of physical activity, three times a day. A walk could do the job, however, we ideally want Children to be practising their fundamental movement skills that will contribute to their physical literacy.

What is Physical Education at home?

Physical Education at home could look like a fun game inside that gets children moving consistently for at least 10 minutes to get their heart rate up. It should also include at some point work with a ball. This would allow them to practice their manipulative skills. We should also practice our child’s locomotive skills. Children should not just be walking or running for 15 minutes three times a day. They should be practicing sidestepping, skipping, hopping and jumping. They should also be working on their core stability, this is their non-locomotive skills such as balancing, twisting and stretching.

I think we, as parents, Primary school educators and Early Years practitioners, take for granted that children have been always exposed to these physical education opportunities. These could be physical activities that take place outside, at after school clubs or at home with parents on weekends. Sadly, the reality is that this is not happening. This needs to change. Every week that a child is not being able to do these activities, especially when they can’t do these at school, then we risk our children really falling behind in developing their fundamental movement skills. This all links into our physical literacy.

What is Physical Literacy?

Physical literacy is when children feel confident in the way they move their bodies. They have the autonomy to want to be physically active and they have the knowledge and the expertise to be able to keep their body healthy.

I guess the big thing that we have to tackle is the education around Physical Education.

Despite being in a national lockdown for almost a year, Physical Education is being incorrectly portrayed as fitness. Fitness is just one element of the PE curriculum.

In total there are seven different elements to the PE curriculum. These are: Invasion games, Athletics, Dance & Gymnastics, Striking and Fielding, Net & Wall and Musical & Movement. Fitness makes the seventh element under the grouping ‘health and fitness’.

Children will be exposed to at least two or three of these elements per term. That’s not just from school but the activities that they do outside of school as well. A typical pre-schooler, will hopefully get two or a minimum of one of these Physical Education elements in their pre-school per term, either run externally or by the practitioners themselves. The children will also get to be outside and hopefully the practitioners are skilful enough to be able to create Physical Education opportunities for them, known in the Early Years curriculum as Physical Development.

Primary school children, for example a year two child, will have a minimum of two, but hopefully three PE lessons at school, they might then have two after school clubs, that makes five and one activity over the weekend to create a total of six physical opportunities for the child.

For Pre-schoolers, they will likely get two, hopefully three, with a weekend activity at the bare minimum.

At the moment, children are not getting that opportunity. We need educators to help educate parents not to do just pure fitness, and instead focus on other locomotive and manipulative skills. These manipulative skills are throwing, catching, striking, bouncing and kicking. Parents need to look wider than just the fitness apps, or the fitness shows on TV. Children need that exposure to an array of different physical activity options.

This is why we at Sporty Minis have designed our On Demand physical library for toddlers, pre-schoolers and for key stage one Primary school children. Each week our excellent physical education specialists deliver five different physical education lessons, these include: Multi-skills, Fitness, Football, Rugby and Dance or Gymnastics.

If you would like to get a free preview of this library, please click here

If you would like to purchase our 50+ videos for key stage one and 100+ for Early Years, then please click here

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