Fitness Testing Kids

There’s a report in the news today that suggests that we should be fitness testing kids as an attempt to reduce the burden on the NHS in their later life.
Only 50% of 7 year old get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
The campaign group wants to test children’s fitness in the same way that Maths and English are tested.
And that’s the bit I have a problem with.
I think kids are already over tested, gone are the days when they were encouraged to be children and run riot.  Now they are shaped in to mini-adults and programmed to sit at a desk for 8+ hours per day.
The restless ones being punished or branded with ADHD or some other ‘disorder’.  It’s the kids that can sit still for 8+ hours per day that have the issue.
Physical activity was reduced in schools because the schools were under pressure to hit targets.  Now we’re seeing the results of that.
However, schools can’t be blamed.  I’m sure I only had 2 or 3 PE lessons per week at primary school; in secondary school it was definitely only 2.
In secondary school, I also ‘got out’ of PE whenever possible because I wasn’t very good at it.  Team sports were not my thing.
Fortunately, the computer generation was only just starting so we got plenty of activity outside of school.
Which is still where I think it should take place.  Structured sport will always be best to learn and perform in school but adding extra activity in to a day needs to be the responsibility of parents.
It’s not possible to send your kids out to play on a Saturday morning with the instruction to ‘be back before dark’.  My whole neighbourhood grew up with that rule.
We didn’t sit still during the daylight hours.  We were climbing trees, exploring, playing tug, knocking on peoples doors and running away, jumping garden fences, jumping off garage roofs, out on bikes (I plotted one of my routes out to A5 Aquatics, it was a 25 mile round trip, on a BMX).
In the time it took for a computer game to load I could walk to the shop to get some sweets.
I agree that the world has changed.
So that means that now parents will need to be active with their children or take them to organised activities or clubs.  I’m slightly biased but a martial arts class is a great place to start, just pick a good one.
As I wrote yesterday, kids aren’t as bothered by the weather as we are.
Get in to the habit of walking them to school or going to the park on the way home.  Play some games – I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to knock on peoples doors and run away anymore though.
There’s probably an ASBO specifically for it.
Be more active as a family.  Don’t rely on the school system or government to provide enough movement for your children to thrive as humans.
If we don’t we’ll have another test for them to prepare for at school and another reason to have their confidence knocked if they don’t perform as well as others.
The way out of this obesity epidemic we’re in isn’t to test the kids and let them know they aren’t great but to make activity more fun and part of their daily lives.  The nutrition side is a whole rant for anther day.
Darren ‘Rat-a-Tat Ginger’ Checkley
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