It’s a commonly accepted fact that exercise is important to not only a child’s health but also their development, but that doesn’t mean that every child is having enough exercise. According to the NHS’s physical activity guidelines for children and young people – Children between the aged 5 to 18 should get at least an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity a day. This equates to at least 420 minutes of physical activity in a typical week, however, when we surveyed 100 parents, more than 85% of them claimed that their child wasn’t even achieving 360 minutes of physical activity in a week. If parents know that physical exercise is important for their child, then why are most children falling short of their recommended daily amount?
There are numerous factors that can be assessed to determine exactly where the lack of physical activity stems from. Is it due to the lack of focus on PE from schools? Do kids simply not want to engage in physical activity anymore? Or is there a lack of awareness about what physical activity really is?
“Only 51% of Parents We Surveyed Feel That Their Child’s School Has Enough Focus on Physical Education”
Schools have a massive influence on your a child’s development, both mentally and physically. Most children are at school for around 6 hours per day and for most, this represents the biggest opportunity for them to exercise through both PE and physical play. A school’s duty to encourage and provide the opportunity for activity, therefore, can’t be overestimated. Worryingly though, only 51% of the respondents in our survey said that they felt that their child’s school had enough of a focus on physical education. Physical education is a compulsory element of the national curriculum, but unfortunately, the amount of time dedicated to it is set by each individual school. This means that there is inconsistency and that some children may miss out on crucial exercise time.
“33% of Children Are Overweight By The Time They Leave Primary School”
It’s not uncommon to hear statistics about the startling levels of childhood obesity in the UK. In fact, NHS Digital states that: More than 20% of children are overweight or obese when they begin school, and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Whilst diet and homelife have a significant impact on childhood obesity, there’s no getting away from the fact that the time children spend at school presents a big opportunity to combat the nation’s obesity crisis.
What More Can Schools Do?
Based on the data discussed above, there clearly needs to be more of an emphasis on physical education within schools. Below we have included school-specific schemes and suggestions to further improve their focus on PE.
Mile A Day
Organisations such as The Daily Mile are making big strides in putting more of a focus on physical education within schools. They have found that taking as little as 15 minutes out of the school day for the children to go for a walk, jog or run with their classmates can not only benefit their health but can also improve concentration levels. A barrier to engaging in schemes such as The Daily Mile can be a lack of facilities. This needn’t be the case for a lot of schools though, as playground installers have branched out into Daily Mile tracks that can be used to get pupils out and active.
Benefit For Schools
During our survey, we also found that 60% of parents feel that the quality of a schools play area can influence their decision to enrol their child there. With that in mind, having a full refurbishment of the outdoor play facilities can not only provide an exciting new playtime adventure for the children, it can also add to the overall appeal of the school. From climbing frames, traversing walls and playframes, the design of your playground can boost creativity, promote teamwork as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle. Schools can often get funding for this type of equipment, making the goal of new equipment more realistic.
“60% of Parents Agree That The Quality of a Schools Play Area Can Influence Their Decision to Enrol Their Child”
Do School Play Areas Promote Learning?
Not only should the play areas at a school provide a fantastic solution for students to engage in physical activity, whether it’s a climbing frame, swingset or anything else of that nature. Play areas should also be a place for learning and teamwork. More commonly found in nurseries and primary schools, playgrounds can be equipped with outdoor play projects that incorporate maths problems and brain teasers.
“40% of Parents Don’t Feel That The Play Equipment At Their Child’s School Encourages Learning”
In conclusion, our survey has shown that the overall quality of a school’s outdoor play area actually can influence a parent’s decision to enrol their child there. With more than 85% of parents saying that their child doesn’t get enough exercise, there clearly needs to be more of a focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle within schools across the United Kingdom.