The first time my son crawled, I missed it. One second, he was in the middle of the playmat, the next second, he was crawling after a stacky cup that had rolled away from him. I was so excited for him. He just looked at me as if he’d been crawling his whole short life. The day he started walking on his own it was because he didn’t want to put his food down and didn’t have any free hands to hold mine. The day he started throwing a ball at bottles lined up around the bathtub, to only realise it bounced straight back at him, blew my mind. He just loved the fact he could pick it straight up and throw it again: a never-ending game he could play. I love watching his development and find it fascinating. I love supporting him in learning how to control and explore his body. But there are, I’m afraid to say, infants in Cornwall that are not supported in the same way. I’m not saying I’m perfect! Far from it. But infants from households in areas of high deprivation, such as Redruth and Camborne, Liskeard, Newquay, Penzance, St Austell and Bodmin, and those from household where perhaps their social, economical and environmental factors are not protective, have a steeper hill to climb when it comes to their Early Years Development. Even more so after the COVID pandemic.
Social inequalities has led to:
- 12% of 2 year olds not reaching a good level of development (2019/20)
- 30% EYFS not reaching good levels of development (2018/19)
- 25% of reception aged children are overweight or obese (2019/20)
- 25% of children in Years 1-2 are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day
That’s why I’m so pleased that we are currently supporting 19 settings in Cornwall with a Healthy Movers Programme. The aim of the programme will provide three, four and five-year-olds with the opportunity to improve their physical development and develop their speech and reading. This is the second time we have put Healthy Movers into Early Years settings. Last time, practitioners reported changes in children’s relationships, their ability to follow instructions and their listening skills – all of which are key to support their school readiness. Parents reported their child’s physical activity levels and enjoyment of being active had increased. So it’s not all about gross or fine motor skills, but the wider development of the child.
Feedback so far this year has been brilliant.
The Tutor recently said: ‘When I arrived at the setting in Camborne [the practitioner] said that the HM training was life changing for her. She said that she had struggled with depression since her mum passed away 2 years ago and she said that for the first time in 2 years she felt alive. She said she felt like she had a purpose and that the physical activities and reminded her how much she needed to be active and so she and her partner have now started running. She wanted to thank us for inspiring her and giving her the motivation and confidence to get her life back on track. She said that she can already see the gaps in physical literacy in her children at the setting and is confident that it will be key as they progress through the school. She said that Healthy Movers is not just for under 5s it’s also for 30 somethings!!!!’
So personally, I’m excited to see how the children progress across this academic year and also to start using the Healthy Movers cards at home with my little one. I’m sure I’ll squeal with excitement the day he learns to jump!
For more information on Healthy Movers contact Samantha on: Samantha.Lawrence@cornwall.gov.uk