Running helps children to become more alert in the classroom

Published on: 06 Nov 2015

PHYSICAL education classes might make some children moan, but not these pupils from a Downend school.
Every morning, Year 2 children at Stanbridge Primary School lace up and hit the Tarmac with their friends.
The group starts before classes in the morning, running in formation to help build team spirit and leadership.
Teachers say they are starting to see the benefits of it, with increased attention spans and enhanced concentration in class.
James Baker, a Year 2 teacher and head of infants at Stanbridge, started the venture last term after taking up running himself about 18 months ago.
He said: “The children really enjoy it, it helps with their learning. After the run, they are like little sponges, ready to absorb the learning they encounter in the classroom.
“There is a huge emphasis in primary education to develop English and mathematics skills. At times, it feels like physical education is getting marginalised within the curriculum.
“It is natural for young children to play, be active and run. As with any exercise, running can boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence,  improve memory, and enhance their mood.”
Primary school pupils usually have about two hours of PE a week.
Mr Baker said: “So far, the children have really enjoyed running half a mile every day. For one reason or another, it was missed one day last week and they were not happy. They love their morning run.
“Any physical exercise will make you more alert and focused. It will stimulate the brain and make you more attentive to any given task. I found the vast majority of my children to be more invigorated and eager to learn after running.”
The rules of the morning run at Stanbridge are simple - no one overtakes, the children run at a consistent pace, and those who can’t quick walk at the back. They even time their runs as a group, with the personal best being around 5mins 25secs!
Six-year-old Emily Macey said: “I like running because it’s good for you. It makes me feel more awake and gets my brain thinking.”
Mr Baker said: “I’d love to see the idea catch on in all the local primary schools, and to see a culture change in schools in general where sport and PE plays a more significant part in a child’s development.
“It makes people happier, fitter, and healthier. Why wouldn’t we want to do more of it?”
Mr Baker has now secured funding from the school to attending a Run England leadership course. He will be starting a parents’ group after Christmas.  He has also been approached by South Gloucestershire Council to start an early morning ‘School Gates’ running group for parents dropping their children off at school.
Teachers and staff at the school will be running at the Chipping Sodbury Parkrun this month as part of a national initiative to get people in work involved in sport.
Mr Baker, who runs with the Frampton Cotterell Harriers along with his family, will also be taking on the London Marathon next year. He and his wife Jo will be running for charity Addaction, which raises funds for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

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