While as adults we may struggle to fit regular bouts of physical activity into our lives, children naturally have more energy and typically spend more time in physical activities such as playing and running around so it should follow that they are easily achieving the recommended 60 minutes daily activity goal. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Increases in technology and screen time (which can lead to children spending more time indoors), a reduction in time for PE or games in schools, a lack of safe and accessible places to play and fewer opportunities to be active in their community all mean less time moving around.
Encouraging children to make physical activity a regular and usual part of their day is important for a number of reasons. It can help children maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity as they get older. It also helps with attention and concentration leading to improved behaviour in class and academic performance.
Physical activity can improve a child’s quality of life – helping them to sleep better, feel better and be more independent. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and self-esteem and provides opportunities to socialise and make friends.
Importantly, if you are regularly active as a child, you are more likely to be active as an adult. Supporting children to be active in childhood really does set them up for life.
How can you motivate children to be active?
Over the last decade, we have worked with hundreds of schools and thousands of children, sharing ideas and supporting children to move more every day. Here are our top six ideas:
- Lead by example: Children often look up to adults and are more likely to engage in physical activity if they see the adults around them being active.
- Make it fun: Children are more likely to be physically active if it is enjoyable for them. Incorporating games, challenges and other fun elements into your PE sessions can help motivate pupils to take part.
- Share details of sports clubs, teams or physical activity classes: Joining a sports team or going to a club can provide a structured environment for children to be active; it can also give them a sense of accomplishment.
- Provide positive reinforcement: Create a sense of achievement and reward children when they reach a goal. Setting small, achievable goals and praising them when they reach those goals can help build a sense of accomplishment and can motivate children to continue to being active. Use praise, stickers, or small prizes.
- Build on their interests: Children are more likely to be motivated to be active if the activity aligns with their interests. Ask your pupils what they enjoy doing and incorporate these into your PESSPA programme. You could also try running a ‘multi-sport taster session’ where they can try out different activities to discover new interests.
- Vary what you do: Having a varied and vibrant PESSPA programme will prevent it from becoming tired and stale for your pupils and for you. Regularly refresh what you do – include a mix of traditional and more modern sports and games or incorporate challenges to keep children engaged and excited.
We have a number of programmes that can help you to motivate your pupils. Our Personal Best Challenge and Active Ted will help encourage children to make being active part of their everyday life while you can use our Coaching Days to give pupils a taster of new sports and activities and help you to understand what appeals to your class and gets them moving.
Get in touch for a chat about how we can help motivate your pupils to move more.