We are currently in National Lockdown 2.0; engaging children in regular physical activity is becoming more and more challenging. Some reasons for this may include:
Space and time in school is limited with staggered lunchtimes and deteriorating weather
Community sport and recreation opportunities are cancelled
After school clubs are limited to bubbles
The dark nights are setting in
We are all spending the majority of our time at home
While schools continue to aim to provide 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in school time, which in itself is tricky, the additional 30 minutes out of school is providing a significant challenge.
We know that schools want to help their parents and communities to support children to be active outside of school. We know being physically active is super important for physical health and mental health and we know the pandemic is negatively affecting the health and well-being of our children. So what can we do?
Here are a few ideas…
1. Virtual After School Clubs
Why not? We all have taken big steps into the digital world and live virtual delivery has been successful in many settings. Joe Wicks got us started in Lockdown 1.0 but we have equally seen local sports club set up ‘zoom’ type sessions to continue engagement in their activities. Schools are becoming more comfortable with home learning and digital platforms; this could really be an option to expand the current, potentially limited, after school club provision.
It could be school staff delivering or you could engage with an external provider. The Youth Sport Trust have also just announced that they will be providing a livestream virtual after school club at 5pm each night.
‘After School Sport Club’ will run for five weeks until December 18 and children and young people can take part live by visiting the YST’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/YouthSportTrust.
2. A Challenge or Competition
We have found that themes or challenges/competitions are a great way of engaging people young and old in physical activity. In our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness challenge’ I walked over twice as many steps as I would in an average week. A half termly, weekly or daily challenge may just spark that engagement. Here are some quick ideas:
A steps challenge similar to our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness’. Give a step target to a child as an individual, create small teams, or travel collectively somewhere as a class or bubble!
Sport themed half-terms with a different activity each week e.g. Athletics, Football. Each child could have a go at the activity on a Monday and create a score, with the aim being to beat that score on Friday. Start it at school, practice it at home!
Contribute to a total – did you hear about the girl who accumulated over 1 million “keepy upy’s” over Lockdown 1.0? You could copy that with your class/school/bubble or come up with your own idea of a skill to use. Throw and catch off a wall, squats, minutes of dancing…anything you or the children can think of!
3. Promote Resources Available to Parents
Why re-invent the wheel? There are numerous resources out there now that can support children to be active at home. A simple newsletter or notification to parents of what is available may go a long way. Although, perhaps using these as a theme or challenge would enhance engagement further. Here are some useful links:
Youth Sport Trust Free Downloadable Resources: https://www.youthsporttrust.org/free-resources
Change for Life Activities for Children: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities
Active 30 Durham Home Resource Catalogue: https://www.countydurhamsport.com/young-people/active-30/home/
4. Promote Active Travel
A 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride to school and 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride home would clock up a child’s 30 minutes of activity needed outside of school time. Can you incentivise or reward Active Travel to school?
5. Activity Tracking
Setting goals and activity tracking can support children (and adults) to maintain engagement in physical activity. A useful aim is to reach the CMO guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Individual goals would be preferred, if time allows, as children will all begin from a different starting point.
3 Top Tips:
Involve the children in the planning/delivery/promotion
We know teachers are really stretched at the moment. This could be a project for a group of sports leaders.
Keep it varied and vibrant
To maintain the engagement, keep mixing it up! Use multiple ideas above in a longer plan/programme.
Celebrate success of children being active outside of school to maintain the motivation of those engaged but also to encourage those less engaged to join in
We hope you found this blog helpful, if you have then you may find these previous blogs useful too:
6 ways to integrate Physical Activity
Why moderate to vigorous activity is important for children and how to measure it