Building the skills to be active for life
Sunday, December 15, 2019
From early-childhood onwards, Sport Bay of Plenty is there to help kids develop the fundamental movement skills that enable them to stay active as they grow older.
As adults we can take for granted our ability to perform basic coordinated movements. But when those basic movements are strung together they can help us achieve more complex skills such as running to catch a fast moving ball while dodging obstacles.
Fundamental movement skills are therefore the building blocks for our ability to participate in sport and recreation as we grow older.
Building active habits early
Anna Rees-Jones, the early childhood advisor at Sport Bay of Plenty, is all too familiar with the importance of developing fundamental movement skills at a young age.
“Every time a baby lies on the floor and moves its legs or arms it’s making connections within its brain and body that form pathways to help develop coordination.
“If we miss out on developing these neural pathways and movements there can be a knock-on effect into school age.”
Anna supports parents and early childhood educators with workshops about what movements affect different parts of the body, and what they should focus on at ages zero to five. Workshop topics include floor time, crawling, balance and language and vision development. Parents and early childhood educators are then armed with a range of activity ideas to support early childhood development.
“If we can instil fundamental movements as a habit when kids are very little then hopefully that will carry on through and it will be very normal for kids to want to be active as they go through schooling and into adulthood.”
Teaching kids to GO4it
By the time kids hit primary school, the focus shifts to movements like throwing, jumping, catching and kicking.
That’s where Sport Bay of Plenty’s GO4it programme starts to play a role. The programme is closely linked to the New Zealand Health and Physical Education Curriculum for Years 1 to 6. GO4it educators visit participating Bay of Plenty schools to deliver fun physical games and activities during P.E. class time, and help teachers with professional development opportunities in physical education.
Sport Bay of Plenty fundamentals lead Sandy Sheterline says the activities are designed to help kids aged 5 to 10 become confident with a range of different movements and physical skills.
“We start with skills such as throwing and catching, and move on to things like striking and playing with large and small balls. By Years 5 and 6 we’re playing multiple sports such as hockey, tennis, Tapu Ae and cricket to help students develop sport and specialised movement skills”.
“Developing these skills early can have lifelong impacts,” says Sandy.
“If we don’t have the confidence to run, jump, throw or catch then we’re less likely to play sport or participate in active recreation as we grow older. And the more negative physical activity experiences we have, particularly when young, then the less motivated we are to be active.”
Thirty-seven primary schools participated in GO4it during the 2018-19 financial year, and 4950 kids took part in more than 55,000 GO4it fundamental skills activities.
Merivale School joined the GO4it programme in 2019, and teacher Shirrallee Hohaia says the programme has also helped her students in the classroom.
“The regular physical activity has seen students in my class become more engaged and actively listening to and following instructions. There’s also opportunities for students to take risks, communicate and take turns – skills that are necessary in life.”
GO4it has also helped Shirralee become more confident at teaching physical education, and she continues to use the warm up and practice activities the kids learnt during their GO4it sessions, as well as the unit plans provided to all teachers.
For Sandy and the team of GO4it educators, the ultimate reward is seeing kids have fun and grow in confidence.
“We all know that physical activity at any age can have huge benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s great to see these kids enjoying themselves and starting out on the right foot.”
Staying active through school sport
Skills developed at ages 5 to 10 start to naturally feed into the structured activities and games of school sport.
Sport Bay of Plenty’s school sport team is there to support kids with those opportunities, too. In the last financial year, the school sport team ran 210 primary and secondary school sport events. The team supports a diverse range of activities that include sport fun days, netball, rugby and traditional Māori games such as ki-o-rahi to name just a few.
Developing fundamental movement skills at an early age is critical to helping kids find the confidence and motivation to stay active as they grow older. From early childhood to school-aged children, Sport Bay of Plenty is there to help lay the foundations.
Check out our website to find out more about our early childhood education opportunities, GO4it fundamental skills programme or school sport.
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