Every Victorian primary school will be able to register to have free access to a new online program, called Transform-Us!, that uses fun, innovative strategies within the classroom, school and home settings to give children more opportunities to move throughout the day.
Minister for Education James Merlino launched Transform-Us! at Dandenong West Primary School with children and teachers demonstrating how movement can be easily incorporated into everyday lessons, just by adapting the way they are delivered to students.
This included pinning worksheets to easels or walls that children complete standing up, having children stand in a circle around the classroom to have a group discussion, or using playground line markings for lessons.
“Transform-Us! is a great initiative and will help schools meet the Education State target of a 20 per cent increase of students doing physical activity for an hour a day, five times a week, by 2025,” Mr Merlino said.
Transform-Us! was developed over many years by an international team of researchers led by Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon, Co-Director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, including a rigorous two-and-a half-year trial in 20 primary schools across Melbourne with more than 220 teachers and 1600 students.
Impressive results included:
- 62-minute reduction in sitting time per day compared to traditional lessons
- 5-minute increase in moderate to vigorous physical activity per day
- Lower Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and systolic blood pressure and higher vitamin D levels
The National Health and Medical Research Council and VicHealth have now funded a scale-up of the program to all primary schools in Victoria.
Professor Salmon said Transform-Us! offers a whole-of-school approach to physical activity, with online training and full lesson plans and ideas that require minimal equipment.
“The program has been designed to disrupt ‘traditional’ seated lessons in primary school and make moving the norm throughout the day,” she said.
“In the classroom, the program includes both Active Lessons as well as ideas for Active Breaks that are a way of breaking up prolonged periods of sitting during class and are a great way of keeping children alert and helping them to focus.
“Outside the classroom, it includes ideas to create an Active Environment that are as simple as providing children with access to physical activity equipment such as frisbees, hula hoops, skipping ropes and balls that are ready in a tub in the classroom for when they come outside during recess and lunchtime.”
In fact, the teachers in the pilot study were some of the biggest supporters of Transform-Us! and reported 85 per cent of students had greater concentration after an Active Break and 79 per cent of students improved time-on-task after an Active Lesson.
Anne-Maree Kliman, President of the Victorian Principal’s Association, said Transform-Us! is aligned with the Victorian Curriculum.
“The Transform-Us! program is about creating an active and supportive environment to help children move more in class, such as Active Maths, and outside of class with Active Homework designed to get them moving with family at home,” Ms Kliman said.
“This is a program children enjoy, but most importantly it is one that allows young children to develop lifelong habits and enjoyment for physical activity. It is not about being the best; it’s simply about being active allowing for the development of positive behaviours and attitudes towards physical activity.
“The Victorian Principal’s Association encourages all Victorian primary schools to get on board and sign up for the Transform-Us! Program.”
Jerril Rechter, CEO of VicHealth and funding partner of Transform-Us!, said currently around one in five children aged 5 to 17 years in Australia meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
“Children spend most of their waking hours at school and home, so finding ways children can spend less time sitting and more time being active can support them leading an active lifestyle,” Ms Rechter said.
“These statistics show we really need to target children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours both at school and at home. Transform-Us! takes advantage of opportunities to incorporate movement and reduce sitting throughout the school day.”
Professor Salmon said Transform-Us! doesn’t have to end when children leave school for the day.
“The Active Homework part of the program is another way to keep children active after school,” she said.
“It can incorporate a standing or moving component within current homework, such as completing reading homework standing up, or involving the whole family in a home challenge, such as a family walk to identify different bird species in their street, or to complete a maths challenge.
“We need to get children doing at least 60 minutes of activity every day and we’ve shown that Transform-Us! can make quite a big impact.”
Victorian Primary Schools can register for Transform-Us!.
(Source: Deakin University)