As teachers, we all know that starting healthy habits young can instil healthy lifestyles for the future, but how do we create healthy routines, that children embrace with enthusiasm and that they wholeheartedly enjoy?
Alongside encouraging healthy eating, engaging children in physical activity lies high on the list of priorities supporting the development of healthy future generations. One tried and tested method of increasing pupils’ activity levels, when most children don’t even realise that they’re involved in physical fitness activities, is to incorporate fun and accessible exercise throughout the school day. Here are some of the ways to start children off on an active pathway for life:
Young children love to explore; they will climb, clamber and travel under, over and through any obstacles, without much encouragement. A portable play system that can be moved and adapted on a regular basis, is the perfect way to keep young children engaged and interested in outdoor adventure and fun that naturally inspires active, imaginative play. The popular Little Movers Range of timber outdoor play equipment offers the perfect solution, as it’s the ideal size to both encourage and challenge little legs, even coming in 2 sizes spanning the EYFS.
The robust Little Movers mobile bridges and tunnel remain firm favourites, whenever the early years children are out and about investigating and exploring their free flow provision. The tunnel provides a portal to worlds both earthly and fantastical. There are no limits to the imagination during outdoor, active play.
Physical play develops the children’s muscles and strengthens bones, as well as improving their co-ordination, gross motor skills and agility through enjoyable and stimulating outdoor pursuits. It provides valuable opportunities for young learners to encourage, support and respond to each other, allowing them to develop their social skills, like communication, taking turns and problem-solving.
Portable equipment ensures that the Early Years children can effectively play an active role in designing the layout of their play space, taking ownership, learning how to share and develop their ideas and putting their individual stamp on their next mobile play trail design. Pre-schools, Nurseries and Early Years provisions across the country are delighted with how Little Movers supports the physical, creative, social and emotional development of the children. At Schoolscapes, we are delighted to hear about the difference this innovative timber range has made to both EYFS practitioners and children’s lives. The teachers are getting their lives back, with less set up time, as the equipment can be rearranged to stimulate learning as the session progresses, enabling staff to be able to follow the children’s interests and providing an abundance of evidence for their Learning Journeys.
Establish a Routine!
As teachers, we all know that when we model good practice, the children will automatically follow our lead. So, by incorporating daily, physical exercise into our school routines, the children will embrace and accept active fun as part of their normal school day. For some schools and nurseries, active dance programmes like ‘GoNoodle’, ‘Jump Start Jonny’ and ‘Wake & Shake’ will provide regular daily exercise. But with unpredictable technological hitches causing unannounced disruption to planned sessions, how about taking advantage of a simple, effective outdoor exercise option, so your children can regularly exercise in the fresh air, without fear of technological meltdown? This not only improves your sanity and well-being but being outside brings multiple benefits to the children, such as increased vitamin D levels and improved eyesight.
Outdoor Gym Equipment is proving very popular in schools across the Key Stages. There’s evidently no stopping the children once they get started! Even formerly exercise-shy children are quickly gaining in confidence and are frequently spotted voluntarily and happily engaging in daily exercise. Sturdy gym equipment like the Double Air Skier and Double Stride Walker are grabbing the children’s attention, as they love to be able to work alongside a friend as well as to chat or compete with them, however the mood takes them. They are certainly enjoying the social element of exercising outdoors, side by side.
Individual outdoor gym equipment targets specific areas of the body, but a well-designed, outdoor gym facility can help children to develop and strengthen core muscle groups across the body through fun, active play. Teachers and pupils all love to hop on and get training, as we provide both adult and child-sized gym equipment. Incorporating both small and large equipment in an outdoor space enables the whole community to hop on side-by-side and supports everyone, however young or old, in achieving some daily exercise! Making equipment accessible and welcoming in the wider community not only helps establishments win their funding bids, but also maximises the potential of your open-air gym facility, by instilling healthy lifestyle changes for everyone. It also encourages a stronger sense of community when all ages can engage in physical activity and train and laugh side-by-side. Grandparents, parents, and siblings can choose to fit in a spot of exercise at pick up times and staff can enjoy an exercise club or grab opportunities during the school day; even if it’s just for a minute or two, daily exercise will make life-changing differences in the long term across the age groups.
Make it Accessible!
Many schools are finding that an all-encompassing, wooden Multi Gym exercise station based within their grounds, has soon become a busy activity hub, attracting pupils to engage in active daily exercise, without any encouragement! Its accessibility means that pupils can gather there as individuals, in groups or as a class, allowing them to participate effortlessly in fun, physical exercise and energetic play, whilst they socialise and hang out together. Children are now voluntarily and confidently participating in active, outdoor exercise both during focused P.E. sessions as well as during their playtimes and independent learning times.
Children are boldly setting out to break their personal best, using and applying their maths’ knowledge alongside their P.E. skills to record their repeats on the incorporated Pull Up Bars or Gym Bench. Some are choosing to be competitive and breaking each other’s records. Others are just enjoying the sensation of spinning around on the Roll-Over Bars or traversing the Monkey Ladder for fun. Children have been witnessed gaining greatly in confidence, essentially through their own determination, practice and endeavours!
Collaboration has increased, as children discuss their exercise ideas and support and encourage each other to achieve their goals. A huge improvement in strength, co-ordination and agility has also been expressed. But teachers are most pleased with the mindset the timber Multi Gym has instilled in that exercise can be enjoyable and fun as well as self-regulated targets being achievable!
Create an Adventure!
Setting the children off on an imaginative journey or an exciting adventure can make the resulting exercise feel like fun for even the most reluctant learners. Creating a story around completing an attractive, timber Adventure Trail, encourages all children to enjoy taking part in an active journey traversing the school grounds. Children love to look out on their world from up high and attempt to cross the equipment trail, avoiding sharks, navigating around quick-sand or eluding the raucous pirates to win the treasure chest, laden with glittering gold!
Traversing bridges, swinging through jungles and sliding down tunnels are all part of the exciting, adventure fun. Children love the attractive, multi-functional Treetops Range which comes in different sizes and designs, perfect for any outdoor play space. By modelling and encouraging imaginative, creative physical play in timetabled lessons, this equips the children with the skills to independently create their own adventure stories… the world then becomes their oyster!
Blend with Nature
Timber play equipment offers unique possibilities of providing stunning, natural play materials for children to discover and explore at your school. Smooth, wooden outdoor apparatus provides a beautiful and enticing play environment for all children to touch, clamber, climb and enjoy.
Let your children witness the wonder of nature in safety and over a broad passage of time. All our wooden equipment comes with extensive warranties and our pressure treated, laminated timber ensures longevity for generations to enjoy, making timber play equipment an economical and attractive option for any play area.
Not only will wooden equipment complement your establishment’s grounds, it also has the distinct advantage that it can be tailor-made for your exclusive play space and to match the size of your learners. Our expert designers can create bespoke designs maximizing the physical, creative, social and imaginative benefits to match your specific needs. We can offer landscaping and installations that will complement and improve your outdoor play environment, maximizing its opportunities for learning.
Active Lives, Better Futures
We all know that active children are more likely to become active adults, so children’s school years provide a very important window of opportunity for us as teachers to embrace, a time when children are open to engaging in creative and physical play for fun.
By establishing the routine of healthy exercise early on in young lives, we are playing an important role in laying the foundations for our children to enjoy healthy, active futures. The physical and mental wellbeing of our students is in our hands. It’s a relief to know that we can improve health, happiness and well-being by just heading outdoors and providing children with opportunities to get active through both physical and imaginative play in the fresh air; let’s face it, something that both children and adults alike can appreciate and enjoy.
So together, let’s revel more in the outdoor elements, come rain or shine, and actively and proudly plan to take more learning outdoors this Autumn. Let’s help to create a healthier and more active future for us all, and just maybe as a reward, you’ll witness achievement soaring like a bird!