How coaches can keep children active in small spaces

For many schools, space is at a premium. Bad weather and competing interests for school halls and playgrounds can put PE at the bottom of the pile. Coaches and activities providers need to offer their school partners flexibility if they want to remain competitive. Physical activity is important for children, so when a school has little space, you can maximise it with your coaching creativity.

So how can you support schools and children with small spaces?


Provide themed functional movement

Using the Functional Movement System (FMS) outlined by the recent OFSTED schools report, you can explore creative ways for children to use their bodies. Primarily, the report is designed to expand a child’s physical cognition using the Pupil’s Premium, the base skills being throwing, catching, twisting, and running.

Instead of running, for example, explore thematic ideas such as “standing as tall or as wide as possible” or “pretending to be a snake” can be used to stimulate their imagination. Both themes can be used in a primarily stationary fashion and offer opportunities to stretch, bend, twist or transfer their body weight.


Create activity zones in their spaces

Activity zones are a great addition to any school space. Coaches who use them offer children an opportunity to see all the types of exercises they could do by watching their peers. It’s a great way to get children excited about future activity, and it can help them embrace healthy competition by using reps and good form.

What about using task cards on-site? Large format cards can be used at each zone and will help to keep children focussed on any given activity. These cards can be a great stimulus for teachers, offering them proposed activities that they can add to the day at will. To reduce space usage, children can be given new tasks in their groups instead of moving from station to station.


Get them active with music

Coaches who explore new methods to stimulate a child’s activity levels, such as using music and sounds, can create memorable sessions for children.

The music itself can be a catalyst for new activities, offering dance and activity options including Capoeira, Ballet and Yoga. Adding sound can also open up new parts of the day. Upbeat music can energise children in the mornings, and lower energy music can be used as a wind down towards the end of the day.

There’s also an opportunity for children to be creative. In groups, they can create dance routines or complete exercises such as Burpees or sit-ups to the beat encouraging more or fewer reps. These bursts of activity can raise their heart rate, and lower energy music can help introduce Yoga or mindfulness.


Set up obstacle courses

Coaches can use on-site playgrounds with existing lines and markings to set up new obstacle courses that encourage children to balance, hop, and skip. Using any existing equipment, such as benches or cones, coaches can create simple obstacle courses that take advantage of the space available.

The changes in terrain can help children develop their problem-solving skills. Using the highs and lows to help them decide how they can navigate their way through encourages them to use different muscle groups and can excite their imaginations. The dynamism will increase their motivation to get active too.


Encourage active core subjects

One of the key areas that tend to let a great PE programme in any school down is the need to think of PE as a monolith. Encourage schools to look beyond PE as a place to get children active and allow physical activity into traditional subjects.

Maths on the Move

Programmes such as Maths on the Move can be used by any school or instructor to teach simple maths concepts such as fractions or multiplication. More than 80% of children who’ve used this programme were more confident with their Maths when they used activity-based learning.


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