The Covid pandemic has affected people worldwide in different ways. Daily life is slowly returning to normal. However, for many children, the physical and mental effects of doing almost two years of online learning and having limited social interaction and play with others are now visible as they return to school.
Although academics play an important role now that they have face-to-face classes again, we cannot ignore children’s physical and mental health. In physical education, it has been observed that many students tire very quickly when doing physical activities. Their lack of fitness could be attributed to a lack of access to recreational facilities during the lockdown period and subsequent restrictions. Many children then became overly dependent on screen time to keep themselves occupied. Now that they can interact and play with others, they still choose to spend most of their time playing online games outside of school. Another effect of being ‘stuck’ in the house is that many children have put on extra weight. Eating sugary treats and junk food was a convenient way to keep children content; however, this had led to unnecessary weight gain and potential future health problems. It also means that these same children now struggle to complete even simple physical tasks in PE.
So, what are some possible solutions to support children’s physical health at home?
- Gradually limit children’s intake of sugary foods and drinks. Pack a healthy snack in their lunch box.
- At home consider serving them smaller portions to reduce their calorie intake. Of course, if they are still hungry, they can have seconds!
- Limit their screen time and encourage them to play outside. Climbing up the jungle gym can strengthen muscles and playing chasing games can help children improve their endurance.
- Encourage them to join a local sport or recreational club – children might be more willing to challenge themselves when doing an activity with peers of similar age.
- Other options for physical activities include taking family walks, doing yoga, swimming in the local pool, cycling around the society, or going for hiking excursions inside or outside the city.
With consistent parental support and encouragement, the suggestions given above will become habits and eventually lead to children achieving a healthier lifestyle after two years of primarily sedentary living.
Fernando Beukes HOD/ Primary PE Teacher
Image credit: theweek.in