Oh how things have changed. I was born in 1996 so had the privilege of growing up in a time where outside play was the norm. However, the 2020 picture sums up life now. The outdoors is a beautiful place that should be enjoyed by children and adults alike. We need a little more 1995 and lot less 2020.
There are basic needs in life. One of which is water. Although, for most of us water is nothing special. There is nothing grand about it. We run our taps and it’s there. If you’re fortunate to live in England it falls from the sky most days. However, this isn’t the case for all individuals. Water can be so much more. Next time it rains, don’t complain. Just enjoy the moment and remember that actually it isn’t all bad. Childhood and water, what could be more beautiful?
I stumbled across a video that broadcasts the issues of the American/British education system. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. So, let’t not judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree. Enjoy.
I went to a museum in Berlin, Germany a couple of weeks ago that was dedicated to the history of children and youths living in Germany. Whilst walking through the museum many exhibits caught my eye but nothing stood out to me more than this wooden scooter and hula hoop. It got me thinking.
Although the scooter and hula hoop above look nothing special it was explained how these were the only toys the poor children of Berlin had many years ago. The houses were so overcrowded that they were unable to use them inside which meant the only time children were allowed to play was outside. A complete contrast to today where children are rarely seen playing outside. The children in a large family shared these two toys. No doubt these were their pride and joy, the most important things in their life. However, looking at them know they don’t seem like much. They are just pieces of wood nailed together after all.
These two toys probably created more joy and happiness than all of the hundreds and thousands of toys children have today. We live in a disposable society where if something breaks it gets replaced immediately with a newer better model. Children nowadays have so many toys to choose from and play with that they probably aren’t even aware what’s at the bottom of the toy box. Rewind a few years and one toy was all children had and all they needed. It provided them with enough joy and happiness to last a last time. It’s sad how this is no longer the case and how every child ‘needs’ cupboards and boxes full of toys.
So, here is a mission for all you parents out there. Make a change and don’t buy any new toys for your child for a month. Can you do it? Maybe the toys at the bottom off the toybox will be rediscovered.
I’m currently working as an intern on a research project regarding physical activity with children aged 0 – 5. The researchers, Dr Kristy Howells and Dr Catherine Meehan have been working hard to come up with a list of the 6 areas they believe are of importance when children are taking part in physical activity.
The 6 c’s are listed below:
We are using an online questionnaire to collect data in regards to how physical activity is currently viewed in schools. The results from this will then be analysed and used to produce a set of guidelines for practitioners to follow in order to improve the levels of physical activity in schools and other settings.
The National Curriculum in the UK states that children should complete sustained physical activity and the NHS guidelines 2013 proposed at least 180 minutes of physical activity a day for young children. This is something many settings are falling short on which is why we feel that something needs to be done.
I spent the first week of my internship focused on conducting a literature review of the 6 c’s. 15, 000 words later it was clear that there was a lot of research out there. However, there was more research for some of the 6c’s in comparison to the others. My general findings were that research tended to focus on older children aged 6+ as well as little focus being placed on research into confidence, concentration and competence.
If you yourself are a practitioner or work with children in a school or activity setting then please get in touch as I would love to hear your views.
Below is a link to the online questionnaire which takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to fill in:
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The classroom isn’t for all children.
I just finished watching a programme called ‘The Tiny Tots Talent Agency’ and was blown away by the enthusiasm one of the children had for Musical Theatre. The young boy had ADHD and Autism which prevented him from going to mainstream school which resulted in his mother home schooling him. The mother explained how if she made her lessons active her son would be engaged but, as soon as a lesson involved picking up a pen and writing, he had no interest. What fascinated me was how much potential the boy had in dance. Instead of being cooped up in a classroom, the mother followed her sons dream to perform and enrolled him in part time dance lessons. Unlike in school, the boy excelled. He was praised. He was aloud to be loud. He was aloud to dance whenever he wanted. He was happy.
The programme follows him as he attends an audition at the prestigious London dance school – Pineapple Dance Studios. It is evident that he loves what he is doing and is happy to be there so it’s no surprise he is awarded a place. The theatre school focuses purely on Musical Theatre with no formal academic lesson given.
What particularly captured me about this story was that in school the boy was seen as a failure and unwilling to learn but as soon as he was dancing and being active, all the troubles went away. It made me think how many children out there are simply misunderstood. Yes, education is important but, for some children being active holds more importance. I’m not saying that children shouldn’t be taught to read and write but what I am saying is that more children need to be given the chance to excel in non – academic areas. If schools were to place more of an emphasis on sports, physical education, music, drama and dance then I feel that more children would feel as though they are achieving highly in something. Some are good at maths whilst others are good at drama. Too much of an emphasis is placed on academic skills but there is more to life than times tables. Let children be active. Classes don’t need to be restricted to sitting at a desk, take children outside, let them run free and see what they discover in the environment around them.
I am a firm believer of children spending time outside especially during the school day when their brains are working hard to remember new facts and figures. This is however difficult, especially when outdoor space is inadequate. London is particularly overcrowded, and with more outdoor playgrounds being taken over by housing developers, space is of the essence.
Asif Khan, a dad with children at a school in Tower Hamlets, London, recognised this problem. It was clear that the outdoor space at his children’s school was inadequate yet there was no way of expanding the area. Or so he first thought. Through careful planning he decided to create an elevate playground. The playground is still within the school boundaries yet is slightly lifted above the current playground creating more space to accommodate the children.
What makes this story more inspiring is the fact Khan asked for the children’s perspective. He asked what they wanted in their playground and he actually listened to them. They said how they wanted a quiet area, that was enclosed away from the hussle and bussle of the rest of the playground. He delivered. Asking for a child’s voice on something that will ultimately effect them is a nice way to go about things. Sadly, as we grow into adults we lose a little bit of our imagination and tend to see things in a more practical way. However, children view the world in a different way to us which allows for more creativity and expression. We need to listen to them more, for one day a child’s voice will change the world.
Below are some pictures of Khan’s elevated playground creation.
In some cases prisoners are only allowed 1 hour outside per day. Whilst this seems inhumane, more are more children are spending LESS than 1 hour outside per day. A shocking statistic.
Although 74% of children are not allowed outside due to the fears of parents and guardians, many children actively choose to not go outdoors. The unreliable British weather is also to blame (as stated by 82% of parents surveyed for the Persil ‘Dirt is good’ campaign), as is the lack of time.
It has been reported that 77% of children refuse to play a game unless it involves technology which also means that classic British games such as ‘conkers’ are dying out. Yes, technology has some benefits for children and can aid in their development but, the outdoors has certain qualities that cannot be replicated on a screen.
I’m not sure how, but outdoor education needs to be made more prominent in schools. Perhaps teachers need to be trained further, more money could be placed into developing outdoor facilities and technology could be switched off or a day!
Children are growing up detached from nature and something needs to be done in order to stop this.
It saddens me how children are being deprived of outdoor play, breaks and recess. There is so much of an emphasis placed on following an unrealistic curriculum that teachers are keeping their students in the classroom for longer amounts of time in order to make sure their children meet the set targets and goals put in place by the Government. Whilst it does appear our children are getting “brighter”, they are suffering from a lack of outdoor time, some more so than others. Those with behavioural problems and ADHD are the groups most effected by this. Outdoor play is some what portrayed as a privilege for children, teachers often say statements such as “if you don’t finish your work now you will have to stay in at break time”. Those with ADHD struggle to sit down for long periods of time and therefore require outdoor play opportunities more than most. The classroom setting for this group of children is a daily struggle made no easier by limiting and restricting access to the outside world. Recess and break time should not be viewed as a privilege but rather a chance for children to simply be free, be themselves and explore. As the word suggests it’s time for a break!
Teachers and playground supervisors should supervise children during this period but not simply tell them what to do or stop them from exploring. If children want to sit on the dusty ground and watch ants climb up sticks then so be it. Outdoor play and recess are beneficial to children in more ways than one including academic benefits and physical movement.
Break time needs to be taken more seriously, children should not be deprived of their childhood.