Choosing the right physical activity

How important is it that children do the right type of physical activity for their age and developmental stage?

Making sure children have positive experiences at an early age can help build the foundations for an active life. Choosing the right activity for your class’s developmental stage can be the difference between your pupils thriving and developing a lifelong love of being active or turning
their back on sport and physical activity forever.

At Go Well, we focus on making sure a child’s experience of physical activity is fun, positive and confidence building, whether that is within the school PE curriculum or in extra-curricular sessions. This means they’re more likely to want to be active in the future.

As teachers, you understand the profound impact physical activity can have on a child’s health and wellbeing. However, it’s not just about keeping them moving, it’s about ensuring they take part in activities that align with their developmental and growth stage.

Choosing the right activity to develop a life long love of being active

Different activities and sports call on different capabilities and understanding. Participating in well pitched, differentiated sessions that provide appropriate challenge and need to make independent decisions allows children to develop these skills. It also keeps them engaged and interested, and reduces the risk of injury or burnout. And, as said above, it sets a good foundation for a lifelong love of physical activity.

Children’s bodies and brains are constantly changing and growing. Different children hit different developmental milestones at different ages. An activity that might be appropriate for a ten-year-old could be too advanced or even harmful for a five-year-old. An activity suitable for one ten-year-old may not be appropriate for another ten year old. As a teacher, you play a vital role in assessing your class’ physical abilities and steering them towards activities that develop their bodies, minds and motor skills appropriately.

Prevent overwhelm and disengagement

Physical activity can be hugely beneficial for cognitive and emotional development. However, if a child is overwhelmed by the demands of a sport, or can’t understand the rules involved, it can lead to frustration or anxiety. If the child struggles to keep up or feels out of place, it will make it harder for them to connect with peers and develop positive social relationships. This is why we advocate a core task based curriculum in Primary, with a holistic approach to Physical Education; developing transferable skills to prepare for learning specific sports as they approach and transition into Secondary education.

Encouraging children to take part in activities that match their developmental stage leads to children feeling a sense of achievement. When children feel successful and competent in an activity, they are more likely to stick with it over time and enjoy being active. By guiding children towards appropriate activities you will help your pupils to excel and lay the foundation for a lifelong love of movement and healthy living.

Three things to think about when selecting activities for your PESSPA programme:

  1. When selecting an activity area think about the cognitive and emotional demands involved. Matching children with activities that challenge them appropriately can develop resilience, problem-solving skills and emotional regulation.
  2. Help children find activities where they feel supported and included, a sense of belonging and camaraderie. This will build their social skills and enhance their self-esteem.
  3. Recognise and celebrate the diversity of your pupils – their different interests and abilities – by offering a wide range of sports and activities that cater to different developmental stages, skill levels and interests. This will create a supportive and empowering environment where every child can thrive.

Get support

At Go Well offer a broad and balanced programme of activities for schools. The different sports and activities that we have carefully selected for each age group give your pupils the greatest chance of experiencing success and, most importantly, are fun for them to take part in.

We help teachers develop a staged whole-school approach to PE, school sport and physical activity, ensuring their pupils are introduced to new activities when they are physically, cognitively and emotionally ready. This means children discover a love of being active which is so important to long-lasting health and wellness.

Further information

Find out more about our different programmes and services

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