The availability of large spaces, sports equipment, minimal technology intervention are indicators of a hustling and bustling life at Physical School, which prompted students to physically exert themselves at every point.
The modern physical systems are built in a way to provide maximum space and facilities for students to move around. Rather, the Indian regulatory norms mandate a minimum of 10 sq. ft. of space per student. However, the reality is much different.
While space is available, less than 1% of students are estimated to indulge in any discretionary physical activity. More than 70% of physical movement within a school in India is estimated to be for activities such as moving from one classroom to the next, moving to the mess hall, or moving to the transport area during morning and afternoon hours. Such movements are akin to obligated physical movements rather than beneficial, required or need to have physical movement.
An effective physical movement routine, even in the physical classroom, involves setting up of in-classroom, and mandated activities that promote the use of physical activities. Schools aware of such a feature, have undertaken curriculum design centered around promoting beneficial and outcome oriented physical activity routines – however, such schools and curriculum remain far and handful even in the fully physical education system.
An undesired victim of misdirected notions has been the online schooling, or e-learning platform systems, which are often blamed for long-sitting hours driven by consistent internet connections, and access to mind numbing tech. However, mature, aware and serious e-learning platforms have taken efforts to scientifically design curriculum routines that intertwine with online schooling and augment it with a robust physical aspect.
Such an ideology will be evident from the admissions counsellor, or admissions team, when thinking of enrolling your ward for an online school or e-learning platform.
For the uninitiated (parents + teachers) on how to augment online schooling with physical activities, below are some ways which can be adopted to incrementally build the physical process in the online schooling pedagogy.
1. Create prompts
In each of your in-classroom assessments, and follow-ons to lecture, ask your students how they have been physically active during their self-study sessions on this topic. For middle grade, the chapters on universe could include prompts to survey from their house’s open areas (under adult supervision), the night sky. Ask them to create physical spots of observation where they could notice the night sky change.
2. Ask them to use their handheld devices
Ask your students to download a credible walk or step counting app. For junior grades, keep weekly competitions titled “house marathons” awarding students with maximum steps. For mature grades, ask them to download calorie or sports counters, which help them track home exercises such as skipping, or cardio – add a grade incentive or a special gift.
3. Put in breaks
For each of your lectures, include slide breakers. Mandate 10 minutes of break time across your lectures, and ask students to take the lengthiest walk across their homes, or help parents with a quick in-house chore.
4. Online Physical Classes (OPCs)
Just like students had a games, activity or recreational period in the week, include in online school curriculum a similar standard. Have students join fitness or at-home workout apps and carry out a supervised OPC. The benefit of the digital media enables that the physical activity dissemination can be kept constant across students, and modified across grades, and yet prove to be a credible replication of the physical campus.
a. At the same time, ensure that all mandated physical equities during OPCs are fair, and equitable. Every child’s home is different and so is the amount of space available. Ensure that the right communication is disseminated to students and parents so that either space can be cleared up, or reservations can be accommodated for limited space availability
b. Offer simpler physical activities – the physical world gave everyone the ability to be supervised, and be corrected by a live trainer, supervisor. The online world does have its limitations and may result in mishaps in-case of grossly complex routines. Hence, ensure the routines are simple yet effective.
5. Encourage standing desks
The corporate world, and Benjamin Franklin are the best proponents of standing desks. The worldwide adoption of this practice showed clear benefits to adopters, and the movement has found adoption even among the early naysayers. Students may be encouraged to have dedicated spaces that let them switch between standing and sitting positions – even from a long-term point of view the practice will yield its merits. Even from a household point of view, which includes both work from home professionals and moms, the practice can be followed on a combined basis, to let students feel the wide adoption of such a practice and not feel disinterested.
6. Include dance routines
On-spot dancing has been a corporate embraced ideology, which has too transformed into a mass movement. In-between the day, play interesting, in-vogue songs with dance directions available on YouTube. Specific routines exist which focus on low movement, but high exertion steps, in limited space. The added benefit is the positive hormone release which further accentuates the student learning process along-side physical benefits.
7. Converse with parents on safe outside physical movements
Educators may request parents during PTMs, and other conversations on keeping aside time for daily dedicated check-ins with their children. While they catch-up on their day’s activities, they can augment this with a walk in the park, or during dog walks, or while attending to an outdoor house chore. Provided this can be done safely, parents may be encouraged to do this and help develop a better insight into their child’s day-to-day activities and bolster up physical activities.
While the above activities may sound educator driven, they are equally parent driven. The lack of such interventions should prompt parents to request educators to beef up the physical activities of the online school setup. On the other hand, parents should be supportive in enabling a conducive environment for children to carry out such activities.