With children at risk of continuing to miss out on exercise even when schools reopen, researchers have launched PE at Home.
Academics at Dublin City University (DCU) have launched the video series for primary school children, which will be made available to schools, teachers, and parents through DCU social platforms, and scoilnet.ie.
Concerns have been raised that childrens’ physical education skills and physical competence development will plateau or regress amid the global pandemic.
Luxembourg recently announced that there will be no physical education for the forthcoming school year.
It is expected that the PE at Home series will be a valuable teaching resource, not only now during school closures, but also when schools reopen as the guidelines may change the ways in which classes take place.
Here, it has also been suggested that PE halls might have to be repurposed to provide additional capacity for students given physical distancing requirements.
Children have a vital window for the development of basic movement skills during primary school, after which it gets an awful lot harder to develop and master the same skills, according to Dr Sarahjane Belton of DCU’s faculty of science and health.
“Mastering these skills is essential for our children to lead healthy and active lives into adulthood,” she said.
“The danger for a lot of children now is that through the situation of social restriction, and school closure created by Covid-19, there is a real risk of them missing this critical window which can potentially have long-term health consequences.
“We have to make sure that PE is not neglected — a solution such as PE at Home is vital,” she added.
Dr Maura Coulter of the DCU Institute of Education said: “As parents and teachers we are conscious of what is happening in our subject worldwide and were astonished that in Luxembourg, there is to be no PE in schools for the next school year.
“Missing out on any subject for over 18 months would be seen as a travesty and therefore we want PE at Home to be a solution so that Irish children’s physical education is not neglected,” Dr Coulter added.
Filmed over a number of weeks, each lesson in the series focuses on a specific element of the Irish PE curriculum.
The pilot series is now available and will be refined and extended based on research that will be carried out to evaluate its user-friendliness.
The programme is one of 16 projects funded by DCU’s Covid-19 research and innovation hub.