Innovative sports program at OSHCMay 10, 2023
The COVID pandemic has impacted individuals and communities globally, with financial, health, social and emotional implications making headlines for the last few years. For the team at our Waitara OSHC, a less expected impact has been an increase in incidents on climbing equipment as children return to normal play times and experiences. A review of the incidents has prompted the team to develop an exciting, new gross motor program which has, in turn, increased the growth and popularity of the service.
Over the past twelve months the service had two incidents on climbing equipment in the outdoor play area. As part of their reflective practice, the team investigated both incidents and they concluded that COVID lockdowns and extended periods at home have impacted balance, hand eye coordination and ball skills for many children. The team also found that the listening skills of many children could be improved.
Margaret our OSHC Coordinator, explains that the program started off by introducing the Kindergarten and Year 1 children to games before afternoon tea. “This had a dual outcome of allowing the younger children to expend their energy after formal learning during the day whilst practicing their gross motor skills,” Margaret says.
Hopping relays, skipping, ball games, pacman, survival tip, and capture the flag were all chosen with the intention of developing the children’s gross motor skills as well as their spatial awareness. Orienteering was also introduced, which helps children develop their spatial awareness, their problem solving skills and their ability to use a compass.
Following the success of the program with Kindergarten and Year 1 children, it has since been introduced for Years 2 – 6 students too. The children are split into groups based on their age, allowing educators to run a more tailored program for a smaller group. Margaret notes that the smaller groups allow educators “to notice children who would benefit from further practice, and we program additional games for those children.” While all the educators contribute to the activities, Educational Leader Lizzie coordinates and plans the program.
Practice Manager Amy says that this program supports children to achieve success, both inside and outside of the classroom. “Movement assists in academic achievement,” Amy says. “More and more studies are proving that motor skills, those skills derived from movement, are primary tools of learning.”
Amy explains that balance, posture and coordination are skills that children need to reach their full potential in and outside the classroom. “All learning is connected in some way to the control of movement. Take reading, for example, which depends on the development of stable eye movement. Writing depends on hand and eye coordination, while copying requires repeated adjustment of the head position and focusing distance.” Amy says that the easiest way for a child to understand the meaning of size, weight, quantity, direction, and time is to experience them in a physical way first.
With such strong evidence and research underpinning the program, it is no surprise that parents are thrilled. “We always receive wonderful feedback from our families,” Margaret says. “We believe this a contributing factor to the growth in our service and the popularity of our vacation care.”