Fat Letters

This post is taken from my professional ePortfolio blog. To see this and many other posts, click HERE.

I was shocked to stumble across this article on the TES website. It applies to English Primary Schools but I feel that it is typical of the blame and shame attitude of today’s society.

Image from morguefile.com

The article describes how some teachers have been sending home ‘fat letters’ to inform the parents that their child is overweight. However (surprise surprise) this has not been found to be effective and health officials are now calling for it to be stopped.

Now, I’m not arguing that obesity is not an issue within the UK, the statistics clearly show that a large percentage of our children are overweight and this is a real concern for their health. My issue is that, of all the letters that were sent out;

Half (51 per cent) understood its purpose, while 20 per cent had received information as a result of the programme that had been useful in helping their child lose weight. (TES reporter, ‘Fat Letters’, Nov 2015)

This means that half of the families who received this letter did not even know why they were being contacted and even less were prompted to take action from it. In a way, this relates to my earlier post about feedback. It seems to me that these letters are likely to cause feelings of embarrassment, shame and guilt however, the statistics above suggest that they fail to provide the necessary information or guidance to allow the parents and child to tackle the problem.

Image from morguefile.com

The article also makes suggestions about more effective ways to approach the obesity issue, including healthy food vouchers and more access to after school clubs.

I feel that although steps have been taken including a focus on ‘Health and Wellbeing’ in Scotland, it is still vital that we as educators place higher importance on teaching children and families about healthy lifestyles and providing opportunities for children to be involved in healthy, active activities. In my opinion, the development out outdoor learning experiences is an extremely valuable tool in fostering a love and enjoyment out exercise. This is embraced within many early years settings however opportunities are less within primary schools. This may be due to time restraints of lack of outdoor environments that are considered suitable.

I hope to be able to encourage and promote this style of learning as I begin my teaching. I have been reading a wonderful book entitled ‘Dirty Teaching’ which is a practical guide to taking your school lessons outside – packed full of really useful advice as well as ways to approach challenges that may arise. I hope that my passion and enthusiasm for outdoor learning will be a positive influence to the children as well as with the teachers and staff that I will be working with.

I like to move it move it!

Following on from my last post, in which I contemplated our responsibility to ensure that children are getting enough exercise, I have been thinking about some of the fun ways that we can get them moving and active throughout the day!

There was an interesting article in the Daily Mail about a school which has it’s children run a mile a day, in an effort to tackle childhood obesity!

While this might seem quite extreme, daily exercise can be really easy, and fun!Here are some ideas which I feel are easy to introduce into any routine:

Music and movement – You could try and learn a line dance, do some action songs or just move to music

Sports and team games – Some children really enjoy a competitive element, others may just enjoy trying something new. There are so many options; football, tennis, running races, basket-ball, rounders…

Parachute games – There are so many lovely parachute games to play which can also include other elements such as friendships and turn taking. Click here for a website with lots of parachute game ideas.

Throwing and catching 

Image from morguefile.com

Image from morguefile.com

Nature walks – One of my favourites. No matter what the weather, everyone can benefit from a walk! Try using different focuses such as a listening walk, a measuring walk with rulers/measuring sticks, a scavenger hunt walk…

Yoga – There are lots of simple yoga stretches and positions that are suitable for children and including these as part of a relaxation or circle time could be a nice gentle form of exercise. The ‘Yoga Pretzels‘ cards are a colourful and attractive invitation to get the children interested:

taken from amazon.co.uk

Balancing/ climbing – indoor or out, using anything from climbing frames to a large tree – climbing involves some risk taking, problem solving, co-ordination and strength

Hopscotch – This is a wonderfully active way to work on some counting or simple numeracy

Roll a dice – do an action – If you are lucky enough to have one of these dice:

then you could add photos or instructions, if not then just assign a movement to a number. Take turns throwing the dice and then everyone needs to do the correct action.

Pushing and pulling buggies/ cars/ trailers 

Bikes, scooters and roller-skates

I know that you’ll all have tonnes more ideas! Remember; it’s so easy and yet so important to include active, physical play every day!


P.S. Don’t forget to lead by example!

Get the children outdoors!

While driving home today, I heard a news story about children failing to get enough exercise and the potential dangers of this including cardio-vascular disease and even diabetes.

This got me thinking about the responsibility of schools and teachers with regard to the health and wellbeing of young children. How can children be expected to achieve high academic grades if their health is poor? Some children may not have gardens or outdoor spaces, or have opportunities to join sporting clubs due to money or family situations and therefore it is essential for teachers to plan energetic and outdoor opportunities into school time.

I also started thinking about the types of exercise and energetic learning that is offered to children during school. In my experience, it is fairly limited within PE, sports days and ‘play times’ or breaks.

During my own childhood I was not very sporty and I found organised, competitive games very off putting. As an adult I continue to avoid competitive sport and I am useless at the gym, however I have discovered a love for walking and exploring natural areas such as hills, beaches and forests. As a teacher I hope that I can bring a variety of experiences to the children that will allow them to be active in ways that they all can enjoy. I am very passionate about outdoor learning and feel that, if planned and implemented carefully, this could be used as a helpful tool for instilling a healthy lifestyle from an early age.

Read article “77% of children not getting enough exercise” here