How to help your child stay active when they learn online

NEWS 30 Aug 2022

Australian children like to stay fit and, on the move. That’s according to the national AusPlay survey from the Australian Sports Commission. It found more than 42% of children take part in organised sport or physical activity outside of school with swimming, soccer, gymnastics, dancing, basketball and Aussie rules being the most popular sports.

Traditional schools offer plenty of opportunities for children and young people to play sports and stay physically active, but the AusPlay survey clearly shows that a significant number of young Australians already enjoy playing sport away from school ovals, athletics tracks and basketball courts.

For children and young people who have chosen to complete their education in a virtual classroom, connecting to sports clubs and associations in the local community helps online learners stay active.

There are many other benefits of being part of sports clubs and competitions outside of school, too, such as enriching children and young people’s ability to build connections and a sense of belonging. There are increased opportunities for new friendships and joining community-based sports clubs expands and illustrates the importance of being part of the broader society in which we live. All this is something encouraged at Haileybury. 

Inside school and out in the community, national guidelines recommend about 60 minutes of physical activity each day. But how do you fit this in if you are learning online?

The key is to include smaller periods of movement throughout the day — between breaks in online classes or after students have been concentrating on an assignment and need a break so they can re-focus.

It’s also a good idea for children and young people to mix things up. Exercise and sport should work and strengthen muscles and bones – like running, skipping and jumping for example. Activities like gymnastics, tennis, basketball and yoga are ideal for better balance and coordination.

Haileybury Pangea is Victoria’s first private online school for students in Years 5 to 12. Since launching, the school has received many enquiries from families with children who are juggling commitments outside school and for whom online learning is a more flexible and convenient choice.

Some students expressing interest in enrolling with Haileybury Pangea are talented athletes selected for elite sports programs. The intense training demands and long hours spent perfecting their skills in the pool, on the soccer field or on the cricket pitch don’t fit around the traditional school day.

A virtual school can deliver all the elements of a high-quality education while allowing keen young sports people to also pursue their passion and talent.

How can parents and carers ensure children learning at home don’t only exercise their brain, but their body, too?

Researchers recommended a few strategies to help break up the online school day.

  1. For younger children, throw a pair of dice and then do an activity like a star jump or burpee the number of times shown on the dice.
  2. Have a 10-minute dance party where younger children can show their fanciest dance moves.
  3. Write different exercises on small pieces of paper, put them all in a jar and let each person at home take their pick and do that exercise. Include push-ups, squats, sit-ups, burpees, star jumps, skipping etc.
  4. Encourage young people to use a standing desk at different times during the day.
  5. Do a free virtual fitness class. Try PE With Joe, The Body Coach TV, Yoga For Kids, Popsugarfitness and blogilates.
  6. Encourage children to make their own fitness videos to share with their friends.
  7. Go for a bike ride, rollerblade or skateboard at the nearest park.
  8. Get children and young people into the garden where they can help weed, sweep and look after a veggie patch if you have one.
  9. At weekends, join a local park run event (www.parkrun.com).
  10. Some Australian sports organisations are part of the Sport Australia Active at home initiative. Go to Sportaus.gov.au and click on the different organisations to access videos and links to activities that can be done at home.