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Why can’t children just sit still?

January 5, 2020

How much energy do you use trying to get pupils to be quiet, to be focused, to just sit still?

 

How much time is spent by you getting pupils to conform to classroom convention and how much by them trying to resist their natural disposition to move?

 

It’s exhausting for both you as a teacher with a pressure to keep the classroom calm and pupils as children with bounds of energy.

 

The first ten years of a child’s life shapes their preferences and motivations, it’s a critical window for creating a lifelong commitment to physical activity. If we’re continuously telling children to sit still, what impression are we giving of movement, what long term impact are we having?

 

So, rather than waste all this time and energy trying to conform to classroom convention why not just change it?

 

Really, where does having to sit to learn even come from?

 

Well, apparently the first school desk was made in 1881.

 

1881!

 

A lot has changed since 1881, apparently not, however, a classroom environment.

 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

But, hang on, just out of curiosity let’s look at what happens if we do “fix it”.

 

 

Physically active learning:

 

 

Enhances academic achievement

 

Primary children were 4 months ahead in maths and spelling after participating in physically active learning.

 

Whilst it’s easy for us to say that a good school is so much more than just its academic results, we’re not naive to the fact you’re under significant pressure to perform in this area.

 

But the means of achieving this shouldn’t be at the expense of a school’s other responsibilities, namely supporting the health and well-being of children.

 

Physically active learning contributes to both, adopted by schools to increase pupils’ activity levels without reducing academic teaching time.

 

Research shows that through the incorporation of physical activity in lessons, children can learn more effectively as they participate in a more memorable learning experience, impacting educational outcomes.

 

A study, led by University College London and published in the British Journal of Science Medicine, looked at data from 12,663 students in 42 different studies around the world, finding that physically active learning improves children’s academic performance.

 

Improves focus and attention

 

You know that time in the day when you’ve sat at your desk for too long, you’ve been staring at the same piece of work for what seems like forever and your mind’s gone numb? There’s a reason why you get up and stretch your legs.

 

Studies show that engaging in physical activity improves attentional focus.

 

And the same goes for children at school. So, physically active learning is a way of preventing the mind numbing stage, taking action before all hope of focus and productivity is lost.

 

Increases movement

 

“For the first time in world history we are having to invent opportunities to be physically active” began Professor John Bartholomew as he considered the notion that environment changes behaviour, raising the question ‘but who changes the environment?’

 

And he’s right. If you think about it, we all could probably get through an entire day without ever actually needing to be physically active.

 

With one in five 10 – 11 year olds and one in ten reception aged children classed as obese, it is glaringly obvious that changes need to be made.

 

Let’s be the ones to make those changes.

 

Physically active learning makes positive changes to the school environment, making healthy options readily available and physical activity part of a child’s daily routine, serving to support the creation and maintenance of healthy habits now and throughout adulthood.

 

Makes Ofsted happy

 

The notion of Ofsted hangs over every school and every teacher.

 

Ofsted’s 2019 inspection framework moves the focus slightly away from performance data and more towards the substance of education and personal development of pupils. So, what pupils are being taught and how? How are they being set up to succeed in the next stage of their lives?

 

Improving children’s health and well-being, building character and helping children realise their potential; physical activity can support schools deliver against these guidelines as the latest framework suggests Ofsted are beginning to recognise the significance of physical activity in school.    

 

What’s more, 72.4% of outstanding schools have a prevalence of physical activity.

 

Is fun!

 

Physically active learning is more fun!

 

It’s no secret that not all children like school, in fact it can seem like there’s sort of an assumption that children just don’t like school, their complaints of it being boring dismissed as kids being kids.

 

Yet, children respond differently to physically active learning; those grumbles of boredom transform into enthusiasm. So, maybe it’s not school and learning that children don’t enjoy, maybe it’s the mode in which they learn. Change this and you’ll change the response.

 

Eager learners make your job that bit easier; we want children to love learning, perhaps this is how.

 

So, rather than asking children to go against their natural instinct to move, why not use that natural instinct as a vehicle for learning? And in doing so pave the way to a physically active future.

 

Yet, you can know all the reasons for doing something and still not do it because sometimes you just don’t know how.

 

And that can be the case with physically active learning, we can tell you all the studies that have been done, all the findings that have been reached, all the benefits that have resulted; but when you lack time, confidence and clarity there’s not much you can do about it.

 

Which is where Maths on the Move (MOTM) comes in, it gives you the chance to do something about it.

 

Experienced educators, learning materials and regular impact reports are provided; enhanced attainment, boosted confidence and increased physical activity is achieved.

 

How does this work? Click here to find out.

 

Get in touch with us for more information. 

 

It’s time we break the mould, to move on from 1881.

 

James

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