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5 top tips for integrating physical activity into a home learning day

The Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation is that children should take part in an average of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. In normal circumstances a lot of this may be provided by opportunities within a normal school day, for example walking to and from school, playtimes, PE lessons and after school clubs. With children at home and parents supporting their learning, how can physical activity be integrated into the new ‘school day’?

Here are a few tips:

1. Start the day with some activity

Get the day off to a good start with some physical activity! Perhaps make it part of your morning routine. Being active releases lovely feel good chemicals that boost mood and can help to start your day in a positive mindset. Activities you could do include:

  • A workout – you could try our FFL Workout of the Week
  • A dance – to your favourite music or using a resource like Just Dance
  • A ‘follow me’ style video like Joe Wicks or Jumpstart Jonny

Our advice is to keep things varied and vibrant so perhaps do a different activity each morning. Why not join in with your children and boost your brain chemicals too?

2. Plan an outside physical activity into your day

Getting outside in the sunlight is so important for general well-being. Outdoor play would be normal at lunchtime within the school day. Perhaps plan an activity in to the middle of the day to break the day up a bit, have a change of scene and recharge your batteries. Activities you could do include:

  • Going out for a walk
  • Going for a jog/run
  • Going on a bike ride/scooter Ride

3. Have short brain breaks throughout the day

Being active releases chemicals in the brain that increase concentration and alertness! So whenever you feel a dip in your child’s motivation or concentration or they are finding a task particularly difficult, try a quick active brain break. Then return to the work and notice the difference! Visit Active 30 Durham Hub for some ideas for brain breaks.

4. Record and reward time spent being active

It can be motivating to record activity, see progress being made and be rewarded along the way. Perhaps create a reward chart where children can colour in the number of minutes they are active within the day. You can create goals and targets depending on your child’s starting point when it comes to activity. Some examples could be:

Completing 60 minutes on X number of days in the week.
Completing X number of minutes on a certain day or number of days
Completing 60 minutes for a streak of X days

What rewards can you give your children for completing their goal? Perhaps your child can think of some too!

To be effective for health benefits and to truly meet the CMO guidelines the activity levels should be moderate to vigorous. Our blog about what this is and how to measure it may be helpful.

5. Integrate movement with learning

If you can integrate movement with learning then you can kill two birds with one stone! We are slightly biased but we would argue that this can be more fun and engaging for some children. Active learning is something that is now very common in schools. Some ideas you could try:

  • Relay style games to collect answers or objects to then sort.
  • Treasure Hunts with questions or puzzles as clues or number/shape hunts in the house or outside.
  • Using your body to give answers e.g. squat for true, lunge for false, create letters or shapes with your body.
  • Target games with answers to hit or knock off or throwing a specific number to a target.

 

We hope you find these top tips helpful.  We know juggling everything is challenging right now and we feel physical activity can be especially helpful to relieve stress, improve concentration and improve mood.  It can be incorporated little and often into your day or in bigger chunks; whatever suits you best. I n Lockdown 1 children’s physical activity levels dropped significantly and we would like to support parents and schools to keep children moving in Lockdown 3.  We have created some free to access resources that may be helpful:

Physical activity and wellness activties.

A Weekly challenge fusing physical activity and creativity.

Workout of the Week

Mental Wellbeing Activities

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Go Well Blog

The difference between physical activity and Physical Education and balancing them both in Lockdown 3.

When children are at school they take part in both Physical Education (recommended 2 hours per week) AND physical activity (recommended 30 minutes a day in school).  

There are distinct differences between the two:

Physical Activity is  ‘…all bodily movement that uses energy’ (AfPE)

Physical Education…’ takes place in a school curriculum…and involves learning to move and moving to learn’ (AfPE)

Benefits of each

 Both types of movement provide many benefits for young people:

Benefits of Physical Activity

Benefits of Physical Education

1. Improve physical health and fitness

 

2. Improve mental health and well being

 

3. Improve cognitive function

 

4. Reduce the risk of some diseases

 

5. Social interaction with friends and family members

 

6. Ease of access – scope for all to be involved as there will be no financial cost, equipment not always necessary.

 

 

 

 

1. Points 1-5 of Physical Activity benefits

 

2. Improved physical literacy

 

3. The knowledge and understanding of how to lead a healthy lifestyle

 

4. Developing wider skills – eg: leadership, communication skills, resilience,  teamwork, confidence and social skills

 

5. Acquiring the technique to perform individual transferable physical skills; being given the chance to develop them and put them into practise in a variety of environments

 

6.Evaluating skills; recognising what is good and what requires improvement and how to go about this

 

7. Breadth of opportunity – being able to unlock possible potential through a rich menu of high quality experiences

 

8. Personal targets and challenges and how to set these, to help individuals to achieve and make progress

 

 

Examples of Physical Activities

Examples of Physical Education Activities

Going for a walk, jog or run

Going on a bike ride

Doing the housework

Doing some DIY

Gardening

Taking part in a fitness class

Recreational sport

A wide variety of sports and activities – Games, Swimming, Gymnastics, Dance, Outdoor Education

Adapted games and activities that have a key objective

Learning rules and regulations

Being a sports leader

Refereeing, umpiring and officiating

Potential to gain qualifications not only in PE but also in leadership and officiating

 

 

There is some clear overlap between the two.

When children take part in Physical Education they are likely to also be physically active.  However, when children take part in physical activity, there may not be strong elements of learning taking place, that would equate to that within a Physical Education session.  Learning is the key element of Physical Education.

Many children and parents are currently grappling with the demands of ‘home learning’.  Providing physical activity and Physical Education opportunities within this can be helpful not just for physical health and physical literacy but also for looking after mental health and creating a readiness to complete academic work set.

Our suggestion while learning at home, is to find the balance that suits you best, but to try to include both Physical Education and physical activity opportunities.  A good aim would be to meet the Chief Medical Officers guidelines of 60 minutes of activity a day and split that between physical activity and Physical Education.  You could do this in a variety of ways, for example:

  • 20 mins Physical education per day, 40 mins physical activity per day

  • 2 days Physical Education focus, 3 days physical activity focus

There are a range of resources available to support parents to encourage their children to be active at home.  A good selection of these can be found on the Active 30 Durham Hub (open to all – link below).

Top tips for delivering Physical Education based activities at home
  1. Use a Physical Education based resource

  2. Give demonstrations to your child (or ask other siblings to) to show good technique

  3. Ask your children questions during the activity such as “How does it feel? How can you improve your technique? When would you use this?”

  4. Have lots of fun interacting with your child and watching them achieve and learn new things!

  5. Practise to improve and be proud of all achievements!

 Good luck!

This blog was a collaboration between multiple members of the Go Well team.  For more information email info@go-well.org.

Further links that may be helpful

AfPE Importance of Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity Resources

Active 30 Durham Hub

Other blogs that may be useful

5 ideas for schools to support physical activity at home

Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important for children and how to measure it

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Go Well Blog

Making the most of Fitness in Education – How to design Fitness sessions to incorporate Personal Development.

We have seen a significant boom in the inclusion of fitness based sessions in Primary Schools following the popularity of ‘PE’ with Joe in lockdown and the concerns over decreasing fitness levels of children that became evident.

I say PE in inverted commas as I think it is fair to say that, on behalf of PE practitioners in my team that Joe Wicks MBE provided a fitness session as opposed to a physical education lesson.  

Children following the instructor on the screen like for like, for me, has its limitations.  Yes, children are moving but:

  • How do we ensure children are performing the correct technique?
  • How do the children know if they are working at the right intensity levels?
  • How do we keep them engaged and interested in the long term?
  • What are they learning?

In an education setting, I feel like we can achieve so much more.  We are missing a trick in what more a fitness session can bring to our children.

How to design Fitness sessions to incorporate Personal Development

I want to write today about how we can make the best use of a fitness session, in an education setting, whether that be within a PE lesson or as part of Active 30 provision, to bring about personal development.  

We know schools have very little time in their day to fit in everything they have to and want to do.  With a well-planned and prepared fitness programme we can make a significant impact not only on physical health, mental health but on character building too – all at the same time.

Intent is a word used a lot now in education; if our intent is to incorporate character building to our session then how we design the session is key.  

Here are a few tips on what you can do to develop the following skills/values through fitness sessions:

Resilience/Determination

Fitness itself should be a tough exercise to take part in.  The aim is to get out of breath and sweaty, to be in the moderate to vigorous intensity zone and stay there.  Children can find this difficult (as can adults!).  Quite often we see children giving up when it gets a little tough.  So how we can encourage them to keep going?  We encourage two key things in this area:

Reward effort

For us, one of the key aims of a fitness session is to be working in the right intensity zone.  Whether that takes me 100 reps or 10 it really doesn’t matter.  Reward effort, reward the children working at the right intensity levels and doing their best.  You can access our Rate of Perceived Exertion to help with this.

Set personal goals

We do not advocate making all workouts competitive at a primary age, but seeing progress can motivate a young person to keep going and be determined.  Perhaps pick a few workouts or challenges to use as a measure of fitness, complete them in Week 1 and repeat them in Week 6 with the aim of achieving their personal best.

Teamwork/Communication

We can design workouts where teamwork and communication are required to be successful.  See below a work together workout from our Fit for Life programme.  Here the children have to work in a pair to complete the workout; they will have to communicate with each other and work together to complete it.  A personal favourite is adding ‘synced’ movements, where all team members have to complete a movement at the same time, such as a burpee.  To do this successfully they have to talk to each other, perhaps even communicate non verbal when they are out of breath to stay in sync!

Problem Solving/Strategising

We can design team workouts where children have to work together to create a strategy of how best to complete the workout.  Let the children discuss and decide how to split up the reps, give them an aim as this may change their strategy e.g. the aim is for everyone to be working at moderate to vigorous intensity, the aim is to complete the challenge in the fastest time, the aim is to get as many reps as possible, the aim is to perform the movements with the highest quality.  

In an individual workout we can provide a rep scheme that involves some decision making and strategy forming.  E.g.

Complete in any order:

  • 50 squats
  • 50 press ups
  • 50 lunges
  • 50 torso twists

Do you work through doing 50, 50, 50, 50?  Or do you 10 of each until it’s complete? 5 of each? Pair the movements? Easiest first? There are so many options to assess and decisions to make!  It will make for a fascinating discussion back in the classroom.

Also, you can allow multiple attempts at the same workout to allow different strategies to be tested.

Empathy/Compassion

There should be no one in the class finding the fitness session easy.  If they are, you aren’t challenging them enough or they aren’t challenging themselves enough.  We are all going to find ourselves struggling at some point in a fitness session, whether we can’t crack a move or we are totally out of breath and don’t think we can do another rep.  If we find ourselves in this position in an individual workout we will need some encouragement from our peers.  If we find ourselves in this position in a group workout we will need the support of our peers and they’ll know how we’re feeling at some point!  But it can stretch a little wider than that, we now all know how it can feel to struggle at something and we can empathise with others when they struggle too, in any area of life.

For all of the above, they won’t just happen with good design.  Fitness doesn’t teach personal development – we do.  

Fitness is one of the mediums/activities that we can use to do it.  How we design our sessions, what questions we ask, what discussions we prompt before, during and after a session helps children to learn and develop these key life skills/values.

If you haven’t got time to plan and prepare a fitness programme like this for your class or school but are interested in the concept, do get in touch – we can help.

For more information contact: sarahprice@go-well.org

Further information:

Blog – Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important to children and how to measure it.
www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk
 
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Go Well Blog

5 ideas for schools to support children to be active at home

We are currently in National Lockdown 2.0; engaging children in regular physical activity is becoming more and more challenging. Some reasons for this may include:

  • Space and time in school is limited with staggered lunchtimes and deteriorating weather

  • Community sport and recreation opportunities are cancelled

  • After school clubs are limited to bubbles

  • The dark nights are setting in

  • We are all spending the majority of our time at home

While schools continue to aim to provide 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in school time, which in itself is tricky, the additional 30 minutes out of school is providing a significant challenge.

We know that schools want to help their parents and communities to support children to be active outside of school.  We know being physically active is super important for physical health and mental health and we know the pandemic is negatively affecting the health and well-being of our children.  So what can we do?  

Here are a few ideas…

1. Virtual After School Clubs

Why not?  We all have taken big steps into the digital world and live virtual delivery has been successful in many settings.  Joe Wicks got us started in Lockdown 1.0 but we have equally seen local sports club set up ‘zoom’ type sessions to continue engagement in their activities.  Schools are becoming more comfortable with home learning and digital platforms; this could really be an option to expand the current, potentially limited, after school club provision.

It could be school staff delivering or you could engage with an external provider.  The Youth Sport Trust have also just announced that they will be providing a livestream virtual after school club at 5pm each night.

‘After School Sport Club’ will run for five weeks until December 18 and children and young people can take part live by visiting the YST’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/YouthSportTrust.

2. A Challenge or Competition

We have found that themes or challenges/competitions are a great way of engaging people young and old in physical activity.  In our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness challenge’ I walked over twice as many steps as I would in an average week.  A half termly, weekly or daily challenge may just spark that engagement.  Here are some quick ideas:

  • A steps challenge similar to our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness’.  Give a step target to a child as an individual, create small teams, or travel collectively somewhere as a class or bubble!

  • Sport themed half-terms with a different activity each week e.g. Athletics, Football.  Each child could have a go at the activity on a Monday and create a score, with the aim being to beat that score on Friday.  Start it at school, practice it at home!

  • Contribute to a total – did you hear about the girl who accumulated over 1 million “keepy upy’s” over Lockdown 1.0?  You could copy that with your class/school/bubble or come up with your own idea of a skill to use.  Throw and catch off a wall, squats, minutes of dancing…anything you or the children can think of!

3. Promote Resources Available to Parents

Why re-invent the wheel?  There are numerous resources out there now that can support children to be active at home.  A simple newsletter or notification to parents of what is available may go a long way.  Although, perhaps using these as a theme or challenge would enhance engagement further.  Here are some useful links:

Youth Sport Trust Free Downloadable Resources: https://www.youthsporttrust.org/free-resources
Change for Life Activities for Children:  https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities
Active 30 Durham Home Resource Catalogue: https://www.countydurhamsport.com/young-people/active-30/home/

4. Promote Active Travel

A 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride to school and 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride home would clock up a child’s 30 minutes of activity needed outside of school time.  Can you incentivise or reward Active Travel to school?

5. Activity Tracking

Setting goals and activity tracking can support children (and adults) to maintain engagement in physical activity.  A useful aim is to reach the CMO guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.  Individual goals would be preferred, if time allows, as children will all begin from a different starting point.

3 Top Tips:

Involve the children in the planning/delivery/promotion

We know teachers are really stretched at the moment.  This could be a project for a group of sports leaders.

Keep it varied and vibrant

To maintain the engagement, keep mixing it up!  Use multiple ideas above in a longer plan/programme.

Reward engagement

Celebrate success of children being active outside of school to maintain the motivation of those engaged but also to encourage those less engaged to join in

 

We hope you found this blog helpful, if you have then you may find these previous blogs useful too:

6 ways to integrate Physical Activity

Why moderate to vigorous activity is important for children and how to measure it

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Go Well Blog

10 ways to make your virtual meetings more active!

Are you sitting in lots of virtual meetings throughout the day?  We would like to help you to make virtual meetings more active!

We advocate that everyone should integrate physical activity into their daily schedule to benefit their physical and mental health.  

However, did you know that it also boosts your brain power?  

Physical activity boosts the production of a chemical in your brain called BDNF which creates new brain cells and strengthens neural pathways.  It also boosts the production of Norepinephrine, which improves your concentration and alertness.

Hands up who can find it difficult to maintain full concentration during online learning or meetings?  

If you are leading online meetings, it may be helpful to integrate activity in to your delivery/time to maintain or to boost engagement.

Here are a few ideas for integrating activity into your online meetings:

1. Active Quiz/Poll

Link answers to body shapes or movements.  Stand up for Yes, Squat down for No.  Lean left for agree, lean right for disagree.

2. Active Break – Rock, Paper, Scissors!

An active twist on Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Use movements for Rock, Paper and Scissors.  Play in pairs, keep your score to see who wins.  You can also give other roles out like a referee and a score keeper. This works great in breakout rooms.  You can make it into a competition if you like or just play for fun!

Add some twists!:

1. Points for passion – have a judge who can give extra points for how passionate people are when playing.

2. Make it more active by replacing Rock, Paper and Scissors with other more challenging movements e.g Squat, Lunge, One foot balance.

3. Full screen with everyone creating a shape at the same time.  The shape with the most people performing that shape wins that round.

3. Active Break – I went to….

Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  The task is to create the longest sequence of movements in the style of the game ‘I went to the supermarket and I bought….’  e.g. Add a movement on each time you move to the next player.  Change the intro to anything you like ‘I went to PE and we did…..’, ‘I went to the gym and we did…..’.  You can work through the alphabet or just freestlyle!

4. Active Break – Dance

Create a dance – Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  Ask each room to create a dance to a certain section of a song (all the same song and section).  Bring the groups back together and perform the dance either one group at a time, or all together.

5. Active Break –  1-2-3 

Split your group into breakout rooms in pairs and complete the exercise in the video below.

6. Active Break – Competition

How many times can you catch and throw an object within a minute?  One hand to the other? One hand only?  Off your wall?  Compete against each other or repeat the task and try and beat your own score.

7. Active Break – Workout

Complete a 2, 5 or 10 minute workout together.  You can use this one if you like:

8. Active thinking time

Walk and reflect – set a thinking task but ask participants to go for a 10 minute walk, ideally outside, as they consider the question or questions.

9. Active task – Scavenger hunt

Collect objects from your house/office space that represent a certain thing or answer a question.

10. Active Break –  Mexican Wave!

Team challenge.  Can you create a Mexican wave on your screen in a certain order?

Add some twists:

1. Pick a person and an order (horizontal wave/vertical wave).  The wave has to go in that order on that persons screen but they cannot talk during the challenge and the others cannot ask them questions.  They can only make waves and attempt to create the wave in the right order.  The person can nod, shake their head or do a wave (they are in the screen after all and will need to take their turn in the Mexican wave).   Once an effort to make the wave fails the team needs to start again!

2.  Do a wave and then point (with one hand or two), whoever you point to has to do a wave and so on.

Some of these tasks can be linked to a topic/be part of the content of the meeting and some can just be to have some fun and move!  A quick 5 minute activity of simply moving, having fun and connecting with other people will help to boost brain chemicals in individuals and lift the atmosphere in virtual meetings.  The next ‘serious’ task is then likely to be more productive with delegates more alert and ready to engage.

These are just a few suggestions and as we have been implementing them in our meetings and workshops we have come up with new ideas, which I’m sure you will too!  We would love you to share any new ideas or twists on the above in the comments!

We hope you have found this blog helpful, for more information contact: sarahprice@go-well.org.

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7 Top Tips on Rebranding your Organisation

We recently embarked on a full rebrand of our company – change of name, logo, mission and vision.  It was no mean feat!  

 

We navigated the process independently and we believe, successfully.  Here are a few things that we learned from the process that may be helpful for anyone considering rebranding:

No. 1 – Be sure!

Have a strong rationale and ensure the change links to the strategic aims of your company.  Changing your company identity is a transformational change that will affect everyone linked to your organisation – staff, customers, partners.  Consider the benefits of the change against the risks. You could use tools like a forcefield analysis to help – https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm.

 

Only go ahead when you are sure it is the right decision and the right time.

No. 2 – Have clear decision-making

Be clear from the beginning where decisions will be made.  Will it be the leader of the organisation?  Directors?  Management team?  Collective decision?  As we felt this was potentially a subjective decision, we were clear that the management team would make the final decision.  This was communicated clearly to the rest of the team from the outset.  Our team members knew that their input, their thoughts and their participation in the process were important and meaningful but they would not be responsible for the final decision.

No. 3 – Consult, research and learn.

Talk to people!  Involve as many people as possible actively in the process. Consult at the start, in the middle and just before the end. Hold workshops, launch surveys, have discussions.  Gather lots of data that you can use to inform decision-making by identifying themes.  Through our consultation we gained greater clarity on our USP and purpose.  Through researching other brands and processes we created parameters that we wanted our name to fit. 

This learning and identifying of themes in data were key in informing the final decision that we made – it made a subjective decision quite objective.

It is also worth noting here, that the final company name came from a member of team!

No. 4 – Don’t ask people what they like

It feels like the natural question to ask – do you like this?  What do you think about this?

In many ways it isn’t about what people like.  We all like different things, different shapes, different colours.  Your company brand isn’t looking to win a popularity contest, it is looking to reflect your organisation and what you do.  Your brand needs to connect people to your organisation, to it’s why, it’s purpose and it’s values.

 

Ask people questions like, what does this brand say about us?  See if the responses correlate to your values and purpose from your research/consultation.

No. 5 – Stay in the fog!

There will be times when you feel lost, when you feel it isn’t coming together, you aren’t going to make it, it isn’t going as well as planned, you can’t see the end.  That can be referred to as the fog of uncertainty.  Breathe it in, stay there, it is where the magic eventually happens.

 

In fact, we delayed our timelines at one point to stay in the fog a little longer!

No. 6 – Communicate – a lot!

As mentioned before, rebranding is a transformational change that affects everyone connected to your company.  Keeping people informed of the steps taken, completed, the next steps, the reasons behind certain decisions or elements will keep them on board, interested and even excited – depending on how you present it.  Be passionate when you communicate – it can be infectious.

 

The two videos posted below give an example of how we communicated our rebrand to our external stakeholders.

No. 7 – Have fun!

Any process is much better when you have fun with it, right? Rebranding is a creative process and it gives you a lot of opportunities to have some fun and spark some creative thinking.  You can do this with your team through the activities you plan for workshops you may hold.  You can do this with external partners/customers too. Here are a few fun activities we used:

 

Force fitting – present a random object/picture, write 10 words linked to that object/picture, create brand names linked to those words.

 

Object retrieval – find 3 objects around your house that link to your company’s why. Present them and explain them.

 

What would xxxx name our company? – Insert different well-known people into the question.

 

The purpose of some of these activities is to disrupt your thinking and bring about new perspectives, ideas or possibilities.  You will find more information about these activities and many more practical tools and techniques for creativity and innovation in the Idea Time book by Dr Jo North – https://bigbangpartnership.co.uk/idea-time-book-one/

We hope you find these 7 top tips helpful.   The launch video below illustrates the full journey taken.  If you are planning to undergo a rebrand process, good luck and enjoy the journey!

For more information on this blog contact: sarahprice@go-well.org