Youth Sports Trust have released a study that found that more than two in three parents say that they have seen their children’s physical activity levels decrease during lockdown.
The children’s charity is committed to harnessing ‘the power of sport, physical activity and PE to increase young people’s life chances through improved wellbeing, healthier lifestyles and greater attainment.’ They hope to help children become school-ready, promote inclusion and tolerance and give young people a sense of belonging.
Their study carried out by YouGov found that a mere 21% of parents think that their children are currently meeting the recommended 6o minute mark of activity per day, which is a worryingly low average.
It’s understandable. The day is less structured with online learning – there’s no designated outside yard time at lunch, and the weather has been so wet this winter that it’s been hard to get out and about. But with 69% of parents saying that they believe their children are less physically active now compared to a year ago, before the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that the time to act is now.
The Youth Sport trust is calling for ‘renewed focus on sport and physical education’ when pupils return to school, due to the finding of this report, and parents are agreeing with them. 81% of parents claim that it ‘is important that schools ensure every pupil is active for 30 minutes every day and 78% say they should have at least two hours of weekly physical education.’
Some of the key findings in the February 2021 UK research were:
- When asked about their children’s activity levels, almost 4 in 5 parents (79%) reported that their children were currently doing less than 60 minutes every day. Three in five (60%) say their children are active, but for 30 minutes or less. A further 11% say their children are currently doing no activity at all.
- Four in five parents (81%) now believe that schools should be ensuring that pupil is physically active for at least 30 minutes every day while in school, with similar numbers (78%) calling for schools to provide at least two hours per week of physical education to every pupil.
But what was really worrying was that this research also found that parents were unsure about how much physical activity that their children should be doing each week. Only 38% of parents were aware that the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines recommend that children be trying to average at least 60 minutes of activity daily and 44% of parents believed this target was 30 minutes or less.
While screens have been great for connecting us and allowing us to be creative in these times, it’s easy for us to become addicted to them when they are a major focus in our work and play lives. The same can be said for children, and they are probably more susceptible to it than we are. It’s important now, with Easter holidays looming and return to school still not quite in everyone’s grasp that we encourage our kids to be out and about as much as possible. Now that the weather is turning and the evenings are longer, it’s easier than ever to get out and make the most of these lovely spring evenings.
If your kids groan at the mention of going out for a walk, get creative with how you pitch activity to them. Some suggestions below will sneakily get them active and enjoying themselves without the struggle to get them off the screens!
This could be at your local park, a walk around the block or even just in your back garden! See how many different kinds of plants and leaves they can collect and give them a key to identify each one. Even something as simple as a check list could work, with directions like 'Find something bumpy/flat/fuzzy/pretty'.
This one is probably better off done outside, or you'll soon see everything short of the kitchen sink being dragged into the game. But chairs and storage boxes to climb, wire hangers to tippy-toe through, a ball to throw through a hoop, a skipping rope to jump ten times are all fair game! Spin around five times before you start to make it super hard!
Have a sports day
Egg/potato and spoon race, three-legged race, wheelbarrow race, sprints - there are plenty of activities to try out for sports day - even better if they're all winners at the end. A homemade gold medal takes minutes to draw up.
Either you make it or have them make one for you! It doesn't particularly matter what the treasure is - a Freddo bar would do - the idea is to keep them occupied by making it as long as possible. Keep hints simple, preferably keeping it the garden; 'Where you fill the watering can, 'Where you wash your hands' 'Where the spades are’ etc. Have them all be on the same team so that the prize can be split afterwards and there's less upset.