As a parent I find that I am always comparing my own children's childhood against my own. I was lucky that I had a really good childhood filled with lots of happy memories of fun days out, playing with friends and my early school years. Being a mum to a teen and two toddlers I have came to realise that actually so much has changed in the last 20 odd years since I was a young child, and that children these days have a totally different experience of childhood then I had all of them years ago.
When I was a child there was no mobiles, ipads or sky TV we were encouraged to get active, to go outside and play with friends at every opportunity. I remember playing skipping and hop scotch in the school playground and school PE lessons on the climbing operators. My teenage daughter does none of this, her whole childhood has been different to my own, ipads, TV and computer games have dominated her generations childhood.
I admit this worries me as I often wonder are we raising a generation of couch potatoes ? I do try to combat this by signing my children up to various extra curricular activities such as swimming, trampolining, dancing etc. But could are children's schools be doing more to get children active too ? I think maybe they could as recent research from ESP Play & Liverpool's John Moors University found that 68% of a child's PE lesson is spent stationary.
It seems that I am not alone in these worries as ESP Play who are the leading provider for educational playground equipment for UK schools have carried out some independent research alongside Roehampton university. They wanted to see how the instillation of multi-skills zones and the professional training of staff can impact upon children's activity levels. The research showed that
- A 7.5% increase in observed activity levels
- Girls increased their activity level more
- Most staff identified the benefits of playground markings and equipment
- Physical activity levels continued to increase during the research period
I think these findings show that by schools helping to encourage children to be more active by providing fun equipment or properly training staff then children will become more active in these sessions. I noticed on a recent visit to my youngest daughters new primary school that they do actually have a lot of outdoor equipment such as Trim trails as schools receive a PE and sports premium from the government. I am hoping that more schools (my own children's included) use their PE and sport premium to invest in Early years play on things such as water areas and sand play. Primary years play such as CPD training, infinity trails and play panels. Or even secondary years play such as Outdoor table tennis and multi-skills zones. I am sure children of all ages will benefit from this range of fantastic outdoor play equipment.
Does your child's school have any outdoor play equipment ?