By Lisa (Area Manager)
Butterfly Lodge Nursery, Blackpool.
Children at Learning Curve Nursery Group have been getting physical this year in a bid to support healthier lifestyles across the Fylde Coast. Each of the four nursery sites employed a specialist sports graduate and children have taken part in sports such as football, yoga, rugby, aerobics, hockey, dodge ball and golf. The coaches have also delivered various multi-sport games linked to the children’s early years curriculum and favourite characters on TV. The nursery group has seen children’s average activity levels raise from 1 hour 46 minutes (September 2017) to 3 hours 24 minutes every day (April 2018), which is well over the governments recommended target of three hours of physical activity a day.
The graph above shows the increase in average physical activity whilst children are at nursery each day. The nursery group gave out parent questionnaires to find out how active children were at home. Average activity levels at home were 1 hour and 4 minutes a day. This means children are now exceeding government guidance of 3 hours every day, with a total of 3 hours 24 minutes every day. This is comparable to the total of 2 hours 12 minutes at the start of January 2018. Figures will be revised again in September and early indications show physical activity levels are still rising.
Sally Goddard Blythe (2005), “Children need not only space to play, but also an environment which permits creativity. Whilst playground equipment usually provides plenty of opportunity for vestibular stimulation, imagination tends to be developed in a less ordered environment. A wilderness of long grass, trees, ditches and stones open up endless possibilities for games of hide and seek, building a den, being marooned in a jungle or surviving on a desert island.”
Shepherd Lodge Nursery, St Annes On Sea.
Meet the Team
(Our coaches are graduate sports professionals and finish their level 3 Early Years Educator course September 2018)
Ben – Sports Development Officer at Shepherd Lodge Nursery
Ben plays football for AFC Blackpool.
Kieren – Senior Sports Development Officer at Clifton Lodge Nursery
Kieren is a keen golfer and has organised for the children at Clifton Lodge Nursery to have golf lessons from a PGA Professional.
Rob – Sports Development Officer at Bluebell Lodge Nursery
Rob plays Cricket for Preston Cricket Club.
Carl – Senior Sports Development Officer at Butterfly Lodge Nursery
Carl coaches the under 13’s girls football team at Preston North End.
Impact on Children’s Learning and Development
The impact on children’s learning and development was better than expected and staff are delighted that children have made significant progress across all areas of the curriculum. Staff and parents are particularly delighted with the impact on the younger children’s progress within their speech, with children that were showing signs of a delay now exceeding age related milestones in ‘Communication, Language and Literacy’. Eight children were studied as part of this new initiative and both staff and parents have commented on how children are happier, healthier, sleep better and show increased enthusiasm to be active. Some of the children enjoy role playing their favourite sports and activities at home; regularly putting mums, dads and grandparents through their paces at the weekend!!!
The graph above demonstrates how all eight children tracked made significant gains across all areas of learning. Significant gains in all areas of development was an unexpected result, as peaks in gains were initially only anticipated within ‘Physical Development’ and ‘Personal, Social and Emotional Development’.
Impact on Staff
What’s more staff have adopted healthier lifestyles too with staff now wearing Fitbits and taking part in Fitbit challenges across the nursery group. Staff also wear Learning Curve Nursery tracksuits as part of their everyday uniform, which helps them run around and be active with the children as much as they can. Local businesses were keen to sponsor the staff kits and could see from the start that providing children with a healthy attitude towards health and fitness at a young age, will help them adopt healthy lifestyles as they get older.
Sports Day May 2018
Staff and parents joining in with the sports day races. For children to adopt healthy attitudes towards physical exercise and nutrition, they need healthy role models too.
Clifton Lodge Nursery, St Annes On Sea
Ofsted – Gill Jones (Ofsted’s Early Education Deputy Director)
In March this year Gill Jones reported that “settings are not physical enough” and that inspectors had not seen children in nurseries and pre-schools get out of breath. We would love to invite Ms Jones to our nursery settings; where children love to be active, run about, take part in sports and get out of breath every day. With Public Health England (2015) announcing rising childhood obesity rates and rising numbers of children suffering from mental health issues, now is the time to nurture our children to adopt and enjoy healthier lifestyles.
New Sports Development Officers for 2018/19
The initiative has proved such a success that the nursery group has employed another four sports development officers, to work with the younger children in the nurseries.
Nathan – Sports Development Officer at Clifton Lodge Nursery
Nathan plays football for Lytham Town FC.
Oliver – Sports Development Officer at Butterfly Lodge Nursery
Oliver is a keen rugby player and has recently taught the children how to throw, pass and tackle.
Jess – Sports Development Officer at Bluebell Lodge Nursery
Jess is a keen netball player and is already teaching the children the fundamentals of Netball.
Jake – Sports Development Officer at Shepherd Lodge Nursery
Jake our latest recruit enjoys playing cricket, body boarding, power lifting and football.
AFC Fylde Community Foundation
Bluebell Lodge Nursery at AFC Fylde Mill Farm, enjoying a stadium tour. Pictured with the AFC Fylde mascot Syd the Seagull
Shepherd Lodge Nursery at AFC Fylde Mill Farm, enjoying a match day experience.
Clifton Lodge Nursery, St Annes on Sea. Pictured with AFC Fylde mascot Syd the Seagull.
Clifton Lodge Nursery at AFC Fylde Mill Farm, enjoying a match day experience.
Bluebell Lodge Nursery at AFC Fylde Mill Farm, enjoying a stadium tour.
The partnership between AFC Fylde Community Foundation and the nursery group has been instrumental in supporting the children’s interest in sport and physical activity. The foundation delivered over 1248 sports sessions throughout the four sites this past year; including yoga, multi skills and football. This next year the foundation plans to run bike-ability sessions and cheerleading sessions for the nursery children to enjoy. This past year has been a huge success and everyone at Learning Curve Nursery Group would like to thank Tom Hutton and the team on helping to organise football tournaments, match days and stadium tours of the NEW Mill Farm stadium for staff, parents and children.
Aerobics with Wendy Doyle
Every week the children engage in aerobics sessions with Wendy a highly qualified aerobics instructor. These sessions are tailored to the children’s interest’s and needs; from sessions around an under the sea theme or everyone’s favourite Disney characters. The children love these sessions and they learn about how exercising effects their bodies, with a raised heart beat and being out of breath. Wendy runs these sessions in small groups, ensuring that she adapts them to each individual child to meet their developmental needs and to challenge them physically. Wendy visited primary schools in our areas to discuss with them about what physical skills they expected children to have when they start school. Within the sessions with the pre-school children, Wendy teaches them the skills to be school ready.
It has been a steep learning curve for all involved but the key message from everyone at Learning Curve Nursery Group is “Let’s Get Physical”, it’s never too young to get active and you are never too old!
Final Thoughts from the Children at Learning Curve Nursery Group
Final messages from the children at Learning Curve Nursery Group regarding what they thought about all these extra curricula activities:
“I like him so much. I really like him, he’s my best friend.”
Leo, aged 4 – Talking about Syd the Seagull
“I like the little kicks it’s funny when he falls over and I love scoring goals.”
Phoebe, aged 3 – Talking about the AFC football sessions
“I like doing the running and the bit where we pretend to escape the zoo game with Ben.”
Holly, aged 4
“Every time I go out I love doing yoga. I do different kind of animal movements in yoga.”
Freya, aged 3 – Talking about the AFC yoga sessions
“Wendy makes us run round super fast and then I’m tired out.”
Isaac, aged 4
“I like aerobics with Wendy, it’s fun and exercise.”
Darwin, aged 4
“I like drawing shapes with the big ribbons!”
Bridget, aged 3