I came across this posted on Facebook which I thought was quite interesting. The post talks about how time spent playing is perhaps more important to a child’s brain development than time in the classroom. This is not to say that children shouldn’t be spending time learning to read and write but that there are great benefits to having young children playing as part of the learning process. A benefit of this would be that the children are encouraged to exercise more in an informal way as the playing of games etc will see them running around. Encouraging the children to play more also helps with performance in the classroom as I noted in this post.
Following on from the older post on how exercise helps with academic performance in children there was a story in The Edinburgh Evening News which talks about the introduction of short, high intensity exercise sessions to aid in improving their fitness and help tackle obesity. At a glance it seems like a great idea and from the point of view of getting the kids to be more active it is definitely a great idea but beyond this it seems to be one that has gone wrong amd missed the point almost completely. To start with the idea that high intensity intervals are better than other forms of training for cardiovascular fitness is just plain wrong. As I talk about in the post on HIIT vs LSD running when using interval training the work must be extremely hard to get the benefits that can be attained through HIIT, a level of intensity that children of 5 years old are very unlikely to be able to attain. Mentioning the classic Tabata protocol again misses the point that it was part of an overall program for elite athletes, one that included longer duration less intense work, never mind that the fact that they were using a bike to enable them to achieve the degree of effort required and the intervals were done after a warm up, something that you might need if you are going to need if you want to work really hard.
When you combine this with the idea that unstructured play helps children of this age learn, that the idea is simply to introduce more activity into their day, that tackling obesity would be more successfully achieved through education about food choices etc you really will struggle to out run that donut, it might be better to make these breaks of a more unstructured nature and combine the two elements of increased activity and the heath benefits that this provides. This way the children will get the increased activity the project desires and in a more fun way that gives both the health and educational benefits