Fonty’s lectureship Move to Be gets young children moving

It seems logical that it is easier to learn something than to learn something. Train children. An active child will be more likely to continue with it later in life. However simple it may seem, it is a complex issue, says Dave Van Kann, professor of ‘Learning to move in and around school’ from 1 April. He is a new associate professor in a research line within the associate professorship that has been going on for some time.

Outside school

Do you take the children by car, or can you take them to school by bike or on foot? So do they sit on a chair in the classroom most of the day? Or has the teacher come up with games that get the kids started? Do the children get sports lessons from a sports teacher? Or does the teacher take care of the gym class himself? And what about after-school care? We live in a time where YouTube videos and video games entice like Fortnite. And a time when it is not clear everywhere, for example due to congestion on the streets, that children are free to play outside.

“What makes it so complex is that a child spends significant time in several places in a day,” Van Kann says. “You can teach a child something in school, but it is also important to involve the parents and the environment in which a child grows up. In addition, movement is one of the many subjects that require attention for a teacher. In a time of teacher shortage, it is difficult enough to have anyone in front of the class at all. ”

Within the Move to Be-lektoratet, the researchers therefore work closely with the academic field, says Anoek Adank, who is a lecturer at ALO and a researcher within the Move to Be-lektoratet. The lectureship is researched together with, among others, primary and lower secondary schools, municipalities and GGDs and involves parents and children in particular.

Dave Van Kann
Dave Van Kann

Local versions

It started around 2007. A time when children’s lack of exercise made headlines, Adank continues. “We then wondered what a school can do together with parties in a municipality to stimulate a healthy and active lifestyle among young people. And how we can help with that. ”

At that time, primary schools were flooded with projects to promote a healthy and active lifestyle among children. Together with his colleagues and GGD Hart voor Brabant, GGD West-Brabant and Tilburg municipality, Adank developed the method ‘Basisschool in Beweging’. This method provides insight into a school’s opportunities to increase children’s physical activity, whether they use existing projects or not. “A method that has been running for fifteen years now,” says Van Kann, “We are gradually adapting it to ‘local’ versions.” The methodology has recently been further developed for the whole childhood, from zero to twelve years ‘Healthy Children’s Center in Motion’.

In retrospect, it was the start of a continuous line of research into the stimulation of physical activity in and around primary schools, says Van Kann. The new professor researched Active Living from Maastricht University, for which he received his PhD in 2017. He joined Fontys Sports College in 2016 as a teaching researcher. “The primary school in Movement and Active Life has been the first building blocks. We continue to build and deepen on the basis of the knowledge gained. ” Van Kann refers to projects such as KEIGAAF, SALTO (Stimulating an active lifestyle through Top GymEducation), Moving Curriculum and Starting Skills.

DELICIOUS

Adhan’s initial research developed further and further. This led, among other things, to her PhD research. The key research question is how physical exercise can stimulate an active lifestyle in children. The added value of subject teachers in sports is central here. In 2018, she was awarded a NWO PhD scholarship to teachers for this.

Adank: “When I started ‘Primary School in Motion’, I never thought it would be and remain so topical and important to encourage an active lifestyle among children. We thought it was important to respond to that. We still see the social significance today. I am glad that we from the lectureship can carry out enlargement, in-depth and above all very practical research. Together with students and group teachers, gymnastics teachers and school boards, we investigate what is needed and what can be done at a school. To ensure that (physical) education makes students excited about moving. By participating in sports and exercise activities. Now and in the future. We look out over the gym. What does it mean to move more or more often in one day, for example for the schoolyard, the school plan, but also what does it mean for the neighborhood, the local sports associations and for the neighborhood? ”

Anouk Tak
Anouk Tak

One project that was mainly aimed at that connection from the school to the neighborhood, at home, is KEIGAAF. “Another that emerged from the previous insights from Primary School in Motion,” Van Kann says. “And from my Ph.D. in Active Living, where the focus was much more on trying to make the school environment as inviting as possible. So the environment entices the students to move. ”

Student council

For example, Salto Elementary School De Opbouw realized an additional playground within KEIGAAF, created by the students themselves. Where children can play football, frolic or ride in the cable car outside of school hours. A field about three hundred yards away. Sidewalk tiles à la Hans and Grete show the way from school to it. The key to this project was that the school got the students to come up with a solution for the schoolyard that was too small, says Harry Voss, director of the primary school.

Initially, students from the student council came to Voss with the complaint that the schoolyard was too small and boring. “Which was also true,” says Voss. “There are restrictions on a schoolyard, for example there must be a lot of parking spaces. So expansion was not an option. Which means there are too many kids in one place to run free or play football. ” Voss let the children cycle through the neighborhood to find a solution. So it turned out to be about three hundred meters from the school. A grass field, with a “poorly maintained” play equipment.

The children wrote a letter to the municipality requesting to use the pitch as a playground. Voss read along, “but the children wrote the letter themselves”. Voss and Van Kann also spoke to the municipality. The municipality agreed. Students and teachers from Opbouw redesigned the field together with Eindhoven municipality and Fontys Sporthogeschool.

ingrained

Each group has 15 minutes of extra playing time at least once a week. Voss: “It depends on the training time, but you just see that when those children come back, they have so much energy. Then they are completely relaxed. You feel that you can do a lot more with them in class afterwards. ”

It costs each class about three minutes per. day of teaching per week. “And the benefits are huge. They go on that field in two groups at the same time, and then there is more space on the playground. The road to the field is simply built into our system. An important additional benefit is therefore that the students spend extra time on the active movement. ”

To ensure that the children can move from the school to the field as safely as possible, there are paving stones with arrows to and from the school in the neighborhood. “It’s also a good advertisement for the school and gives a better experience of the themes in the neighborhood around the school.”

Subject teacher

Within Salto, Voss leads the working group ‘sports and exercise’. “Salto has always been sports-minded.” For example, each Salto school has had its own sports teacher for years. Voss: “I can hold a good gymnastics class, but if you have a sports teacher, then the children’s work is what I do. Children come out of that gym, so to speak, exhausted. They are constantly busy. It’s a joy to watch. Such a gymnastics teacher knows what he is doing. Where I would quickly label something as dangerous, he says, ‘How so dangerous?’ They know exactly what to do. ” The collaboration with a subject teacher was the start of a long-term collaboration with Fontys Sports College, says Voss.

The Salto school environment has interns from, among others, Fontys Sports College. The gymnastics teachers participate in knowledge meetings arranged by Fontys. In addition to Adank’s doctoral research, the Salto schools collaborate on other projects within the research line ‘Stimulation of movement in and around primary and lower secondary schools’.

Decorate differently

There is also a new puzzle on the board of primary schools. From 1 January 2023, each primary school pupil from group 3 must receive two 45-minute sports lessons each week by an authorized teacher in a suitable place of residence. Getting to grips with the basics in children is a good development, says Van Kann. “But it can also be a complex problem for schools.”

The professorship can help with that, says the professor. “For example, do you always have to use a certain type of housing to be able to provide high-quality physical education? Or can you set it up another way? What does it take, what does it require of teachers, and how do you design the environment? ”

According to Van Kann, the core lies in ‘thinking differently’. “What is the essence of what is being asked here: to facilitate movement and how to subsequently achieve it with creative solutions. This change in the law can therefore also help research and education to solve this puzzle together with the subject area in the best possible way. This is exactly the kind of case where knowledge and expertise from the Move to Be professorship can be strongly expressed. ”

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