Improved Health and Fitness = Improved Attendance
Supporting pupils to attend school as often as possible is incredibly important, not only does it mean they won’t miss important classes, but they will have a better chance of getting great results in their SATs and GCSEs.
Improving the health and fitness of pupils has been proven to increase attendance levels. Currently, one in three children leaves primary school obese or overweight. This could potentially be changed with the help of both teachers and parents by educating children on how to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
An article from The Guardian, ‘How can PE and sport improve student health and wellbeing?’, discusses how schools can actively work to improve the health and fitness of their pupils. The impact of these improvements can help to tackle obesity, improve pupils’ mental health and boost achievements. Some have even suggested that ‘PE should be given the same status as math’s, English and science to tackle obesity’.
So, how can you encourage your pupils to be more active?
Not all children are naturally athletic, so one great way to ensure everyone can get involved is to emphasise fun over exercise. After all, we’re much likely to join in active games if we’re having a good time. Make sure that your lessons are accessible so that non-sporty types and kids with physical disabilities can also get involved.
If we introduce kids to a wide range of sports and activities, they are more likely to find something that they enjoy and that catches their imagination. They are then more likely to carry on with these activities under their own steam, either during break time and lunch time or outside of school. Many of us carry our favourite hobbies and activities on into adulthood, so it’s important to introduce your pupils to a broad range of sports whilst they are young.
It is important to keep up to date with current health and nutrition information, as well as new ideas for P.E. lesson plans so that you can be confident that you are supporting your pupils.
The benefits of physical activity
Back in 2015, Public Health England released a report called ‘What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity?’. In the report, they stated that ‘there is emerging evidence of an association between physical activity and attainment.’
The report laid out the benefits of physical activity for pupils as:
- Enhanced cardiometabolic health; musculoskeletal health/muscular strength, bone health and cardiorespiratory fitness
- Enhanced mental well-being including positive self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and stress
- Emerging association with academic achievement, improved concentration and attention
- Improved confidence and peer acceptance
What about nutrition?
A great article called ‘3 Ways Nutrition Influences Student Learning Potential and School Performance’ confirms that ‘existing data suggests that with better nutrition students are better able to learn, students have fewer absences, and students’ behaviour improves, causing fewer disruptions in the classroom.’
The three benefits that the article lays out are:
- Increased Brain Function – deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities as well as concentration. Therefore well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet helps pupils to process information more effectively.
- Better Behaviour and Learning Environments – Healthy pupils are likely to have fewer absences. In addition, malnutrition can lead to behaviour problems, and, as we all know, an excess of sugar can also have a negative impact on child behaviour. So, by looking after our pupils’ diets we can increase attendance and ensure that our classrooms are a more productive and happy environment for everyone.
- Positive School Outcomes – A high-quality diet is associated with better performance in exams due to increased concentration and school attendance.
Setting an example
As a teacher and/or a parent, it is vital that we set an example to children with our own personal diets. Children often lead by example, so it is vital that ‘we practice what we preach’ and show children that a healthy diet filled with nutritious foods can be just as ‘fun’ as an unbalanced diet.
Also, aside from setting an example, teaching can be a physically demanding profession, with long hours which can be a constant drain on our energy, which makes it all the more important that we should fuel our bodies with a balanced diet and make the days a little bit easier with the correct fuel. An article from Edutopia.org highlights that fact that the brain alone consumes an average of 600 calories per day! Therefore making sure you consume a mixture of non-starchy vegetables and fruits, healthy oils and fats, a variety of protein sources, and selected whole grains is crucial to making sure your brain is performing at it’s best.
Rewarding Great Attendance
Once we’ve helped our pupils to become healthier and more active, they are hopefully going to be coming to school more often. PTS has a fantastic range of attendance reward products, including certificates, stickers, badges, CertifiCARDS, pencils and mugs, which can help to give pupils that little extra motivation to come into school day in day out and make the most of their education.