Olympic Torch Carrier Nominee, Fenella Lindsell, On Why PE Doesn’t Need To Be Competitive

In this week’s Scrubbing Up, BBC’s Sports and exercise medicine expert, Dr Andrew Franklyn-Miller asks whether the opportunity to encourage children to be more active is being missed in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics. He warns that the physical competence of future generations is being put at risk because of a failure to give PE the same priority as other subjects in the school curriculum. Contrasting the support available for children who struggle in maths or English with the approach taken to physical development, cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination, Dr Franklyn-Miller argues that there should be compulsory tests for key physical skills at each of the key stages as children progress through school.

With one in three 10 and 11-year-olds in England overweight or obese, childhood obesity is a serious problem. However the problem goes far beyond childhood obesity and the associated poor health outcomes. Recently Sally Goddard Blythe, Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, concluded that up to half of children were not ready for school at the age of five because of their “sedentary lifestyles”. This was because pre-school children found it difficult to grip pencils properly, sit still, stand up straight and even catch a ball after failing to develop key physical and communication skills at a young age.

We’ve written previously about the critical links between the development of motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination and the development of literacy and numeracy skills. The development of fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination is similarly essential to sporting success. To reach age appropriate targets in the development of left and right brain activity, children need to practice mid-line activities such as crawling, marching and balancing. For some children, developing these skills is particularly challenging so making this fun is key.

That’s why YogaBugs developed its 10 week Impact & Change course for primary schools. This course has been devised to improve children’s physical, emotional and social development whilst giving schools real results. At the beginning and end of the programme, we evaluate the children on skills such as flexibility, balance, co-ordination and concentration. At the end of the course, the results are sent to the school with a full report showing their improvement. The course combines story-telling and magical adventures with yoga inspired moves so that children are encouraged to develop essential developmental motor skills.

We’re concerned about the physical competence and health outcomes of this and future generations and that’s why we’re absolutely committed and passionate about changing children’s lives. Our number one priority is nurturing a love and appreciation for physical exercise and healthy living in our young children. Competition can come later!

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