“Absenteeism will increase significantly, learning goals will not be achieved, children will have a poorer immune system”

This year’s results of the system for monitoring the physical performance of children Sports education card are shocking for the profession. Childhood obesity has increased by as much as 20 percent due to two-month quarantine.

Results of the annual research Sports Education Card show that after the first wave of covida-19 in Slovenia we recorded the largest decline in children’s physical fitness and the largest increase in childhood obesity in the history of Slovenia. We have been performing measurements in our country for 33 years, which is the oldest system of its kind in the world. Due to this system, we have several times in history managed to take timely measures for the physical fitness of our children, and we are envied all over the world, said the vice deans for scientific and research activities at the faculty at today’s press conference. Maja Pajek.

It’s testing in June this year managed to perform more than 100 schools. More than 20,000 children were included in the sample. Schools that failed to test in the spring are doing so now, and experts expect even worse results.

Catastrophic results

Why was there such a drastic decline in the physical capacity of children, why did we record the worst results in the history of Slovenia? The main reason lies in the lack of systematic work on physical education in schools.

“The measures left great consequences on the daily lives of the children. They stayed at home, the exercises did not work, the playgrounds were closed,” said a professor at FŠ and head of the national SLOfit system Gregor Starc.

“What happened to us? There was a big decline in all the motor skills we monitor. We recorded the biggest decline in endurance and coordination of the whole body. These are skills that we develop the most in school and in training in clubs.” As a result, the overall motor efficiency of children fell, and the percentages shocked the profession. “I didn’t expect such a big drop. We expected a slip of a few percent, not 10 percent and more,” said Starc.

In the 1990s, Slovenia faced the problem of obesity and declining physical performance. Even at the beginning of this century, the trend was negative. But we, as the only country in the world, managed to stop this and turn the trend in the opposite direction. In 2010, the Healthy Lifestyle intervention program was introduced in schools, in which a physical exercise expert at the school led additional exercise programs for children who need movement the most and are not usually involved in exercise outside of school. After that year, we started having more and more able-bodied children. A “Unfortunately, in 2020, it all fell apart.”

Archives of the Municipality of Gornja Radgona

The gyms were lonely during quarantine.

The girls, who were at the highest level in the history of monitoring last year and the year before, crashed. The boys have already managed to exceed the Slovenian average, but this year all the effort of previous years was lost. The decline in physical performance did not occur only in a minority, but in as many as two thirds of all children tested. The largest decline, almost 80%, occurred in the most efficient children.

The percentage of children with an increase in the proportion of subcutaneous fat, which can also lead to increased health risks, increased by more than half. After stabilizing the percentage of children with too much fat in 2010 at 13 percent of the total population, it has now risen to 16 percent. The percentage of obese children in the entire population has grown from six to nine – an increase of as much as 20 percent in just one year.

From poor physical fitness to illness and poorer learning success

“No one expected such a situation,” said a retired professor at FS and the father of the sports education card system Janko Strel, who is convinced that there have been no such shocking shifts for decades. “We cut our ears if it was a percentage or two. To increase obesity by 20 percent, efficiency to fall by 13 percent, and this will have far-reaching consequences. There will be a significant increase in children’s absenteeism, learning goals will not be achieved , children will have a poorer immune system. Teachers are already noticing that children’s attention is declining. Physical activity is one of the key elements in fighting the virus. The immune system is one of the most important factors, “ stressed Strel.

The problem will also appear elsewhere, in the learning success of Slovenian children, the head of the Department of Physical Education at the Faculty of Physical Education is convinced Marjeta Kovač. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve been looking at how movement affects learning outcomes. Good motor skills have been shown to make a tremendous contribution to good learning performance. This needs to be taken into account.” In previous months, we prepared teachers for distance teaching, but we could also prepare them for active teaching, Kovačeva is convinced. Classes should be held outside as often as possible, or children should be able to work in the classroom. She highlighted good practices in Finland, where “Schools install aids in the classroom so that children can get up, hang themselves, ride a stationary bike and so on. They install equipment that encourages the child to move. Teachers of other subjects and the didactics of these subjects need to be prepared so that they can teach the subject active. “

The end of Slovenia’s top sports achievements?

“We talk a lot about top-notch sports. We’re a global phenomenon, we’re competitive wherever we compete. But it all comes from somewhere, it comes from a population of children,” Starc recalled. Last year, we had as many as 14 percent of promising girls and 10 percent of prospective boys, but even that plummeted to the lowest level in history.

During the period of the declared epidemic, gyms and playgrounds were closed, and all sports clubs ceased to operate. Measures were then prematurely lifted for current top athletes, and young people were cut off from access to playgrounds and gyms by the end of spring.

“Also [Tadeja] Pogačar would not be there if he was not included in such programs. The state must find mechanisms to continue to promote these programs and enable the operation of sports associations, “ however, pointed out an expert in the motor development of children at FS Gregor Jurak. “Our appeal is: don’t close playgrounds, don’t close gyms!” The FS also prepared protocols on how to use playgrounds and gyms during the epidemic. “Instead of closing, the operating time needs to be extended.”

What to do?

How are we going to fix this unexpected drop? First of all, it is necessary to treat all the proposed measures to curb the spread of the virus more comprehensively, also from the point of view of other social areas, Jurak is convinced. “We want more trust and cooperation,” he said. Strel also agrees. “Only trust can save us in this situation. We have to trust the profession, we have to trust the teachers.”

Kovač emphasizes that some issues will need to be settled at the system level as soon as possible. “Quantity and quality need to be increased. Every child needs to have at least one hour of structured exercise a day.” At the same time, other areas need to be strengthened. “We have arranged transportation to school where needed, but the child doesn’t always have to be brought to the school gates,” the bus could stop about half a kilometer away so that the children have at least a 15-minute walk to school. At the same time, it is necessary to arrange safe access to the school for those who walk or ride bicycles, rollerblades, scooters …

It is also necessary to reduce groups in physical education classes. “We have an outdated norm. From the first to the fifth grade we can have up to 28 children per teacher. This is absolutely unacceptable. It is impossible to provide some quality teaching that would have appropriate effects. At the system level, joint teaching of sports pedagogue and class teacher should be ensured. teacher, and the norm should be 12-16 children in one group, “ suggested Kovačeva.

gornja-radgona, opening, ceremony, opening, stadium, tšc-lawns, lawns

Aleš Cipot

The playgrounds have been childless for too long.

As for the coordination of lessons and preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus, the teacher should receive only basic instructions, says Strel. “Unfortunately, superiors have forgotten the basic pedagogical feature. We can impose two to three matters on children and the population, not 100, 200 recommendations. Teachers know: hygiene and distance. The rest will be done by a properly trained teacher himself.”

Experts also warned that the consequences will be visible not only on health, physical fitness and learning abilities, but also on the quality of mutual relations. “It’s the hardest thing for us here. Our biggest advantage has been fostering emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships. Today we cut it all off,” said Strel. “Today we are saving the economy. Knowledge and health must be saved. /…/ The measures of the state must first be directed at children, at people. Then at the economy. There will be no increase in productivity if people are on sick leave. It will not be. one of the first things that measures are going in this direction. Today, the problem is extracurricular activities outside school. According to market mechanisms, prices are rising. “ There is a crisis state subsidy for using the bed in tourism. For enrolling a child in sports, but not, Strel warns. “There has to be a man in the foreground.”

Without the efforts of politics, there will be nothing

These measures need more systemic support, Jurak warned. “We need a corona package. They used to go in the direction of tourism, now we need an intervention law that will bring the appropriate resources to carry out these measures.”

It is also necessary to be aware that the decline in the last year has been as great as the progress in 10 years before, Starc pointed out at the end. “Next April, we’ll see how many children got back, but I can almost certainly say that this recovery will be long-lasting.”


Source: Svet24.si by novice.svet24.si.

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