Children took part in a variety of activities such as bunny hops aimed at developing their fundamental movement skills. Photo: SportSG
Instead of their usual morning lessons, 50 children from childcare facility Cherie Hearts @ Science Park I began their day with exercise and games, under the guidance of professional coaches as part of GetActive! Singapore.
The children, aged four to six, were split into three groups to take part in a variety of activities, such as bunny hops, team relays and basic circuit training – aimed at building their fundamental movement skills and teach the children the three basic elements of athletics: running, jumping and throwing.
“With these things we have been doing, (the children) are training their motor skills and hand-eye coordination – these (activities) are all training without them realizing it,” said Joe Goh, head coach of Sports Quotient, who was engaged by ActiveSG to facilitate the day’s programme with his team of coaches.
The parents of these young participants were happy to have their children gain exposure to exercise and be provided with avenues to be physically active in school, given the lifestyles of modern children.
“I think nowadays the lifestyle tends to involve more indoor activity,” said Neo Seng Wee, 42. “So it’s good to start them (young), engaging them, and probably they will go on in their lives with these kind of activities,” said the father of two young children, aged five and seven.
The initiative is a welcome one with increasing reports of inactivity among children and youth due to internet and game addiction. Photo: SportSG
Rock Yen, principal of Cherie Hearts, also recognizes the growing popularity of iPads, television, and other digital gadgets as forms of engagement for children.
Given increasing reports of inactivity among the young due to Internet and game addiction, along with the Health Promotion Board’s push for healthier diets to beat obesity, Yen reflected that there was a growing need to inculcate good fitness habits in her students.
Currently, all students at the centre are exposed to a brief fifteen-minute session of simple exercise, led by teachers during the morning assembly.
“That for me, is still not very sufficient,” said Yen, mentioning that tight school curriculum makes scheduling time for exercise and outdoor activities difficult.
Despite teachers’ efforts to introduce exercise into their daily routine, they possess limited knowledge in the area, hence having trained professionals teach the children the right ways to exercise is something the centre remains eager to receive assistance in, according to Yen.
“We are not trained in this area, so it will (provide) good insights for the teachers to learn what exactly the professional trainers are doing or what kinds of equipment are needed,” she said.
Moving forward, Yen has plans to incorporate some activities the coaches carried out into the school’s lesson plans, to allow the energetic children to get active and learn simultaneously.
Salimi Sualman, father of five-year-old Tiara Sue-Qi Qisti expressed his approval on such initiatives that incorporate exercise into the children’s curriculum.
Family support in encouraging individuals to maintain their involvement in sports or exercise is crucial. Photo: SportSG
“Kids, they just want to play outside, they don’t want to be cooped (up) inside,” he said, emphasising that getting active should be a vital part of a child’s lifestyle and be ingrained in him or her from a young age.
Despite a child’s initial active nature, the decreasing enthusiasm for exercise and outdoor activities that typically comes with age is not a trend to be ignored.
Goh mentioned the importance of family support in encouraging individuals to maintain their involvement in sports or exercise.
“Somehow when (children) are involved in sports, a lot of times it’s because of the parents. It’s either through parents’ encouragement, or sometimes the parents themselves are active,” he said.
As such, Goh hopes that increased exposure from a young age would help children discover a passion for sports or exercise, which they can continue pursue into their later stages of life.
To lay the groundwork for that, he plans his active programmes with the priority of having fun. “Looking at the smiles, we get feedback that (the children) really enjoyed themselves,” he said.