Finland is a country that seems to get a lot of stuff right. Most of it revolves around their social structures, and in particular education. Finland produces some of the highest academic results in the world, and it is also producing the most physically fit children in Europe. This is no coincidence, and the two are certainly linked.
It is well established that regular physical activity makes a significant contribution to a person’s happiness and well-being, especially for children in their formative years. And exercising together – as children do at school – helps a child to hone and develop their social skills.
It is never a good idea to become complacent when things are going well, and the Finnish government is not about to rest on its laurels. They plan to introduce a new curriculum in which children will participate in two to three hours of physical education per week. It is also considering removing desks and chairs from classrooms, so children are not always sedentary during lesson-time.
It would seem prudent to take inspiration from Finland – so how can we get our kids participating in similar amounts of exercise per week outside school?
- Make it a family affair – ordering your child into the back garden with a football is not the right way to go about it. Find something they enjoy and join in. Kids love it when their parents join in with them
- Use a bit of trial and error to find something your child really takes to. If a game of rounders or football or a bike ride doesn’t take their fancy, try something completely different like swimming or climbing
- Try and lead by example. If your child sees you rotting on the sofa day in, day out, scoffing crisps and swigging fizzy drinks, you are not practising what you preach and kids readily see through that sort of hypocrisy
- Try and walk to school and back, or at least look to cut out unnecessary car journeys. Walking is good, solid exercise and will help to keep your children fitter and happier
- Although we want to discourage too much gaming and screen time, things like Pokemon Go actually represent a decent compromise – it’s gaming, but it’s physical too and it gets kids off their backsides
- Last but certainly not least – enrol your child in a local sports club. You can join in by going along every week and watching, or even getting involved at the club in some capacity. This fosters a sense of togetherness between child and parent, it’s fun, it’s healthy and the physical, mental and practical benefits are too numerous to mention
So let’s try and learn from the best and get our kids active!
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KUDOS is passionate about encouraging people from all walks of life to take part in sporting activity at any level, from grassroots to the top. We passionately believe that sport is a powerful force for good.
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