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The importance of developing healthy habits at this age is well documented. Exercise for Nursery and Reception children has a multitude of benefits; it builds muscles and bones, develops gross motor skills and coordination, improves sleep, helps with brain development, as well as being an important means of building relationships and social skills. Over the past few weeks the children in Early Years have needed no encouragement at all to take part in physical exercise and have shown boundless energy, perseverance and stamina when making the most of their outdoor environment. Frequent trips to Forest School and access to our beautiful grounds (sometimes assisted by glorious sunshine) have given the children space to run, climb, hone their ball and racket skills and even develop their bike riding abilities. The air has been full of the sound of children enjoying the freedom to be physically active. The sense of wellbeing has been palpable and the progress the children have made as a result has been astonishing!
Mrs Samantha Forster, Head of Early Years
It has been wonderful to see the children enjoying being outside in the glorious weather and taking time to step away from their screens. Having been back in school for three weeks, online learning already seems like a distant memory but the children never take for granted what a wonderful outdoor learning environment they find themselves in. No child could look out onto our lush green fields and not feel the urge to run across it in a game of chase or roll down the hills until they feel dizzy. Our children do not need encouragement to be physically active, it is in their DNA to find an opportunity to have fun whilst raising their heart rates. From relay races in Games, to walking through the grounds in Forest School, being physically active is never a chore, instead it is a time when smiles are seen and peals of laughter are heard. Year 1 would definitely agree that physical exercise is great for the body, mind and soul.
Mrs Georgie Hunter, Head of Year 1
Whilst staying at home comes with its own challenges, many of us have appreciated that with this slower pace of life comes opportunities for discovery. In every situation there are silver linings. Our Year 2 families have embraced and formed many healthy habits that I am sure will stay with them. Discussing the progress of the children's vegetable gardens has become a weekly focus of our class chats, having time to learn how to ride a bike or develop cycling skills, be it learning how to stand on your saddle or cycle no handed. Enjoying outdoor activity with the family, long walks, runs and outdoor play are all healthy habits learnt in this time at home. Would these precious moments have happened in the usual hustle and bustle of pre-lockdown life? The family that plays together stays together, as the saying goes, and finding fun ways to pass the time has created memories for our Year 2 families that will be treasured in years to come.
Mrs Kerri Wilkes, Head of Year 2
Throughout this half of term, children have been participating in ‘Home Athletics’ lessons from the comfort of their own gardens. Without the usual equipment available, the children have had to show creative and innovative ideas when choosing Sprint areas and finding alternative equipment. For example a variety of sticks, broom handles and other long objects were found to work well as javelins. The children have all displayed great sportsmanship and honesty when measuring and recording their times and distances. The children have gone to great lengths to participate fully in these lessons and it has been wonderful to see their results.
Mrs Jessica Oecken, Head of Sport
Throughout the online learning experience I have encouraged the children to head outside when they are on a break from their lessons. Going into the garden and running around even just for five minutes has such enormous benefits on their health and wellbeing and really helps them to concentrate in their next lesson. Before lessons, after learning and at the weekend, pupils don't need any encouragement at all to get outside and exercise and they have been on many a bike ride, walk or swim. We always take time to talk about both the physical and mental benefits of doing these activities especially during weeks in lockdown.
Mrs Louise Doven, Year 4 Class Teacher
It’s been a joy to see the Year 5s keeping healthy during the Summer Term. This has been evident in their participation in the weekly Star Challenges. One of the weekly star challenges is the Stay Active star, the children are encouraged to take part in a whole range of different activities that encourage to get out into the fresh air and exercise. The Year 5s have clearly enjoyed the engaging and creative ways to stay active. Our aim now it ensure these habits have been formed so they stick after lockdown ends.
Mr Rob Dilworth, Head of Activities
It has been an absolute pleasure to have the majority of Year 6 back in school. Giving everyone a little taste of normality again has been important. This week we have continued our activity programme offering cricket, athletics, tennis, bushcraft, art and crafts and challenges. We encourage the children to fully commit to each activity to ensure that they get the most out of each day. Before beginning sports coaching, some of the children lead a dynamic warm up to get the blood pumping and stretch muscles ready for physical activity. They enjoy this leadership opportunity. Exercise and free play has always been essential for a child’s development but it is especially important currently as children renew relationships with each other. Seeing them interact creatively has been a pleasure. It has been a credit to them that they seem to have bounced back into routines with vigour, demonstrating their resilience. These qualities are very important for us to develop and central to our philosophy. We know that staying active is crucial for a healthy lifestyle but what is so important is that exercise releases dopamine and endorphins which helps us to feel happy and relieves our brains of stress and anxiety. Being outside has helped us deal effectively with social distancing and of course has the added benefit of increasing serotonin, helping us to feel alive and well. The Department for Education have reported that ‘there is now compelling evidence to show that contact with nature and the outdoors improves physical health and mental wellbeing’. I am thoroughly looking forward to the return of more pupils next week.
Mr Fraser Murphy, Assistent Teacher
The PE department have encouraged pupils to be physically active throughout lockdown. This was either by following our programme for keeping physically active or by keeping active in a way they enjoy, whether that be trampolining, BMX-ing, scooting, skating, horse riding, paddle boarding...As long as pupils keep being physically active in whatever way they choose, we are happy. Being physically active is not only good for the body but also great for the mind. Getting outside to exercise and enjoying our wonderful weather has been encouraged. Physical activity also boosts the immune system as well as improving brain function. All of these things are regularly pointed out to our pupils. Since half term, the PE lockdown programme has taken on a new form; a virtual sports hall with bitmojis of Mr Dilworth and myself, where pupils can click on a variety of symbols for activity ideas. Mr Dilworth was instrumental in producing this and we hope it has been even more engaging for our children.
Miss Jo Gordon, Head of Physical Education and Girls Games
This week the final U13 sporting fixture of the year launched - Land's End to John o' Groats by any means! The Sports Departments at Highfield and Westbourne House have designed this distance challenge is for all Year 8s across the two schools. It is easy to take part - pupils compete by entering the distances they have travelled and each week, we will tally up and compare between the two schools. Pupils can travel by; walking, running, cycling, skating, scooting, paddle boarding, kayaking - essentially, any non-motorised travel. The fixture ends next Friday, 26th. Good luck!
Mr Dan Bather, Director of Sport