The importance of getting children moving
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Moving with a purpose can help children establish the four elements necessary for learning readiness. Purposeful movement is the equivalent of a brain break and will help your child establish a foundation for the four areas in which your child needs to be ready to learn (neurological readiness, motor skills and core strength, attention and behavioural, and academic readiness).
Purposeful movement can involve trying to stay on a wooden beam or walk along a chalked line to develop balance, throwing and catching balls and beanbags for gross motor skills or any activity which involves muscles being used in a focused way.
By including purposeful movement in a classroom, teachers can help a child to retain up to 30% more information than they would absorb just sitting still. This could involve moving around and looking at pictures, for example, while teaching art.
Upon leaving primary school, learners have less opportunity to move around. Scheduled brain breaks will help children to reset and refocus. Even walking can release brain chemicals that can improve learning.
So how active should your child be? This depends on your child’s age. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended levels are:
3 - 5 years
Children should be physically active for the duration of the day to optimise growth and development.
6 - 17 years
Children should do at least an hour of moderate physical activity in activities which strengthen bones (running or jumping) at least three times a week. They should also build muscles (climbing or push ups) for three days of the week. Other activities could include jumping jacks, squats or skipping for co-ordination.
Physical activity is found to increase cognitive function, self esteem, reduce stress, improve results in school performance and exam scores, besides improving cardiovascular health and bone strength. It also improves on-task behaviour (learners attending to instructions or assigned work).
As a parent, you can help by encouraging your child to play, organising family walks and taking your child to a public park.