Did you enjoy sport during your school days? It’s true that some kids love sport and want to be the next Jessica Ennis or Andy Murray. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan and many children today agree - competitive sport is seen as boring and un-cool, and definitely not fun. Only a quarter of our children do the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day.
But one thing has changed since I hung up my hockey boots, and that’s the definition of exercise. It simply means moving more - not coming first in the 100 metres dash. So gardening is officially exercise! Raking up leaves, digging over the borders, sweeping the path - they all get you moving and gently out of breath. Even better, you’re getting some fresh air and (hopefully!) a bit of sun on your face.
I run a gardening and garden design club each week during term time with Year 4 kids from a local school. They give the lie to the depressing headlines about childhood inactivity – there are so many wanting to take part we have to run a rota. Their favourite activity? - digging the vegetable beds. Yes, sowing seeds is fun, doing the watering is popular, but some energetic digging is what really gets them going!
And our school isn’t the only one getting on board with gardening. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has now signed up 16,500 schools, who all receive practical advice on how to get started, what to do, and how to use the outdoors as part of the school curriculum. Why don’t you find out what your school is doing and how you could get involved? I couldn’t run my club without help from parents and grandparents. You don’t need to know anything about gardening, just be willing to muck in along with the children.
Here’s some more ideas about getting active in the outdoors:
• The RHS has lots of gardening projects for families to enjoy in their own garden at http://www.rhs.org.uk/Children. Each month there are new ideas for what to grow, craft activities to try if the weather’s not great, and information about topics like garden bugs and butterflies.
• If you want something active to do with the kids in school holidays, try your local National Trust site http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/families. They all have loads of outdoor space for kids to run around in, and run lots of activities especially for children. My family has enjoyed things ranging from geo-caching to making a willow wendy-house.
• If you live near enough, visit one of the four RHS gardens http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens. This Easter I’m told that our nearest RHS garden, at Harlow Carr near Harrogate, is offering easter egg trails, a visit from the Easter Bunny, and recycled craft workshops with the wonderfully-named Captain Rummage of The Starbeck Cone Exchange….You definitely won’t need your hockey boots for that!