Enjoyment is the single biggest factor in motivating children to be active according to new research.
Confirming a view long espoused by play workers and play organisations, a survey published by Sport England shows unequivocally that ‘enjoyment’ is the main motivator for children when it comes to engaging in physical activity.
The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey involved 130,000 children and young people, and arrived at five key insights into the attitudes of children and young people towards sport and physical activity. The five key findings are:
- Physically literate children do twice as much activity. The more of the five elements of physical literacy – enjoyment, confidence, competence, understanding and knowledge – children have, the more active they are.
- Enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels. Despite the majority of children (68%) understanding that sport and activity is good for them, understanding had the least impact on activity levels.
- Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult).
- Physical literacy decreases with age. As children grow older, they report lower levels of enjoyment, confidence, competence, and understanding. Previous research from Sport England shows that activity levels drop when children reach their teenage years.
The results also reveal important inequalities among certain groups of children which must be tackled.
Divides are apparent along gender, ethnic and socio-economic lines:
Girls are less likely to say they enjoy or feel confident about doing sport and physical activity. (58% of boys enjoy it, compared to 43% of girls. 47% of boys feel confident, compared to 31% of girls.) Among children aged 5-7, boys are more likely to love playing sport, while girls are more likely to love being active.
Children from the least affluent families are less likely to enjoy activity than those from the most affluent families, and previous research shows they are also far less likely to be active.
Black children are more physically literate than other ethnic groups – driven by boys, but they’re less active than the population as a whole.
Currently, around three million children and young people (43.3%) are active, but a third of children (32.9%) are less active, doing less than 30 minutes of activity a day.
For more on this story click here