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You decide – Compulsory sport for primary schools?

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This post will deal with a topical debate which continues to grow in stature. Should sport be a compulsory part of a primary school students life? Currently, the new 2014 health curriculum has no requirement for sport. In previous years whereby sport was a compulsory part of all Aussie schools programs, it was seen as a bit of a relaxing time for teachers and students, and perhaps not taken as seriously as it should be.  Lets look at both sides of the argument. Those against compulsory school sport argue that many children simply have other hobbies and interests they would rather pursue their time with, and we can’t force sport and games down kid’s throats.  A previous post I made about pushy parents cites one reason for many children’s early disdain for competitive sport, but school sport or playtime shouldn’t fit under this umbrella, and should be time for children to play in an uncompetitive environment with the emphasis on health and fun, not competition.

By not making school sport compulsory kids lose out on multiple aforementioned life benefits, as well as basic fun and a way to break up the classroom routine. Not every student loves science and math, and the same will go for p.e, however we need to find a way to make the process as enjoyable and fruitful as possible for kids. By simply neglecting the benefits of physical education in schools, for me it being lazy and ignorant, and not allowing kids to receive the most truly holistic education they can.  A formal push for compulsory school sport was very recently delved into in Victoria. For those interested; (http://www.vu.edu.au/news-events/news/compulsory-school-sport-on-the-agenda)

Feel free to leave your thoughts below!

-J

Depression and exercise

Nobody wants to have an unhealthy child in any sense of the word. Outdoor activity aims to prevent children from being unhealthy physically, allowing their bodies to develop in a way which contributes to a healthy life. However, the link between your child running about in the backyard and their future mental health is stronger than you may think.

A Psychosomatic Medicine Journal study analysed thousands of children in the seventh and eighth grade. The study found quite a severe level of difference between those who had a general exercise pattern and those who didn’t, in terms of depressive mood symptoms. It has been known for some time that exercise is a good thing for treating people with depression, however the extent of its benefit becoming more and more clear. Young people with good exercise routines, built on a foundation of outdoor play have a better chance of being a healthier and happier adolescent. It starts with you as a parent, encouraging outdoor play. Hopefully these patterns will last through your child’s teen years, and the level of healthy, happy kids rises manifold. – J

Pushy parents

Everyone has seen and heard ‘that’ parent. The one who always goes out of their way to berate their child about a mistake he or she makes in a junior sport game. Being overly pushy towards a child can give them bad feelings about sport and exercise as a whole. The exercise routines formed as young children shape your health as you grow into an adult. If these moments are connected with negative feelings and anxiety, it can lead to an unhealthy adulthood with little exercise compared to the population average. So always remember, they are children, they want to have fun and not be belittled. If you want to shout abuse and see perfect skills on a sport field, go see the pro’s live. Let your children find their feet and have positive experiences with exercise.

Personal Favourites

So while much of what is written in this blog discusses the science of what is beneficial, and recommendations for children and so forth, I thought something that might be of some value to my few readers is an interpersonal account of what I found were my best experiences of playtime. As an active person, engaged in a number of organised sports as well as someone who still enjoys their fare share of spontaneous play time, I feel somewhat able to give a reliable opinion on these matters.

Firstly, in terms of organised sports; their are two standouts. The first of these is ‘Auskick’. This is a program which has ran for a number of years, introducing primary school children to not only Australian Rules Football, but most importantly children’s first experiences with teamwork and a little competition. The program regularly visits schools and was my absolute favourite organised sport all throughout primary school. Visit http://www.aflauskick.com.au for more information.

The second recommendation is one which has improved insurmountably over the past few years, and that is organised soccer (football). The introduction of small-sided-games, meaning less players per team, creates an environment of participation, fun and most importantly close friendship building amongst kids. As a coach of children of this game myself, I can give a first hand account for its benefits. See the various associations’ websites for more info on how to sign your child up to play.

For the non organised, playground style fun; some of the most fun playtime I had involved the moments where my parents let me and my friends come up with our own fun. It’s perfect to use the tips I, and other blogs give to nudge your kid in the right direction, however the best playtime fun comes from the imagination. Games like tip, hide and seek, complex and nonsensical ball games that we made up, and so forth. So remember, the blend between playtime and organised fun is key, a healthy balance of both will lead to an active, healthy and happy kid for years to come. – J

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A few things to consider

The role exercise can play in a child’s development, and on the quality of ones adult life is enormous. It’s fair to say that the benefits on the body and growth of a child physically are large parts of why we need kids outdoors. However, what a simple run around and play can do for the brain and holistic health of a child is often overlooked and not understood. This post aims to establish a few cool and interesting benefits on your child’s holistic development that exercise can provide.

* Brainfunction and alertness – for results in the classroom look no further than a healthy exercise habit for your son or daughter

* ADHD and behavioural assistance – Research suggests one of the best things for a child with attention deficit is to have them regularly play and use energy

*Happiness – Active kids are happy kids, simply.
*Social Skills – the best way for kids to interact with new friends, as well as develop skills for sociability and teamwork happen in playtime

*Head start on healthiness – Starting good trends young helps prevent heart disease, mental health problems, Alzheimer’s and the like in future

Consider these things when making choices for your child…- J

Household items turned fun

If like many of the people questioned as to why entertaining kids with video games and dormant activity is easier than exercise, you have a problem with access to equipment then look no further. Here are some simple household items that can be used as items to invigorate and energize fun play for your child! :

1 – Use an old bed sheet for games like ‘twister’ or ‘home’. This is easily done by painting/drawing the platform – another fun activity.

2 – Help your child make their own hula-hoop. A number of simple items such as cardboard, toilet paper rolls, irrigation tubes and electrical tape.

3 – DIY parachute: Use string, serviettes/handkerchiefs, tape and a toy figurine.

Combine this with the more simple ideas such as homemade balls, skipping ropes and bats/rackets to have a fun, affordable and safe time with no excuses about equipment.

Enjoy – J

What’s this about?

This campaign is all about reaching parents and guardians of young children, and speaking to them in simple terms, with simple ideas and goals for their children. A number of handy tips at your disposal, such as turning household items into play ideas will be provided. Along with this, some stats and figures showing the overall benefits of exercise and play for young children will be published. Hopefully, a few testimonials and interviews with some people in the community who can vouch for the cause drawing from their respective experiences. – J

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